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Who's the weakest link in the team?

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09-25-2003, 05:01 PM
  #1
Munchausen
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Who's the weakest link in the team?

This one's pretty long, so bare with me (or don't )

It seems that we'll have to cope with a pretty defensive system this year. That's what stands out from all the info we've received so far, and it's kind of been confirmed (for me) when I saw the team play against the Bruins (more precisely the way they played). We look better defensively, but we take less chances offensively. We're going to play a more passive 2-2-1 system to limit the mistakes and shots on goal. We're going to play a passive zone coverage behind our own blue line, which will avoid looking foolish by protecting the crease but on the other hand, this will slow down our forwards that won't have the opportunity to take off as fast as before on the counter-attack.

In that (new) context, I think there's 3 veteran players that represent the weakest link (as a whole) of our team since they will have a hard time adjusting, mainly because of their age and one-dimensional style of play. I'm talking about Perreault, Brisebois and Audette. To me, we'll be in trouble as soon as mid-season if we keep all three with us. On a similar idea, Juneau and Dackell suddenly become less useless than they were in everybody's mind since they do fit well, although not in a big role anymore of course.

So if we consider that Perreault does have some value, even if not a great deal of it, and that Ribeiro is showing he wants the 2nd line center job and is slowly earning it step by step (and also considering that we'll lose Perreault at the end of the year anyway), I think it could be a wise move by BG to move him (Perreault) elsewhere, maybe for picks or a 4th line grinder, maybe an upgraded tough guy. The thinking behind this is that Perreault simply CANNOT be used in a defensive role. He's not suited to play on a checking line and will do more arm than good there. This is all of course if management decides that Ribeiro, and not Perreault, is more suited to play on the 2nd line.

Brisebois is a distraction to the team for the simple fact that he's booed night in night out and even if I hate this behavior, I cannot argu with that fact that this probably affects the whole team indirectly. Also, We will need stellar defensive play from ALL our Dmen this year for CJ's system to work efficiently enough to get us in the playoffs. Brisebois needs to be on an offensive minded team, preferable in the West. He cannot play well defensively, no matter how hard he tries, and since it's likely that our games will be won by slim margins, we cannot afford his usual boneheaded turnovers a couple of times every game. Although I think he's a tough one to move due to his huge contract and no trade clause, there's surely something to do if we agree to not take too much in return and/or eat a bit of his salary (or maybe taking an other salary dump in return but with a player more suited for our needs).

Finally, I think there's still room for Audette with the Habs if we want to give the time to our offensively gifted prospects (Higgins, Perezhogin, Plekanec, even Kastsitsyn or maybe Balej) to mature and fully develop for one or two more years in the AHL/RSL. Audette, just like Perreault, could never be used in a checking role either, but if there's room for him on one of the two offensive lines, I say keep him, at least for this year.

This all comes to the lines I'd like to see this upcoming season, and that I think fit well the new defense first philosophy (because again, yes, this is what we're getting this year folks, no need to kid ourselves).

Zednik - Koivu - Ward
Bulis - Ribeiro - Audette
Sundstrom - Hossa - Ryder
Juneau - Kilger? - Dackell
Dwyer

Markov - Rivet
Souray - Komisarek
Hainsey - Quintal
Bouillon/Dykhuis


1st line: Koivu and Zednik give us quality on offense while not compromising their defensive duties. Ward is just as stellar in his own zone as anybody and could FINALLY provide the long awaited physical presence on that line.

2nd line: Ribeiro and Perreault are both defensive liability. But Ribeiro can feed his two wingers. Perreault can't. Bulis provides all the size, speed and defensive awareness needed for this line to work considering who are the other two linemates (a playmaker and a sniper). Audette expressed the desire to play with Ribeiro.

3rd line: Hossa's big, a natural center, plays in both zones, smart on the ice, is strong along the boards and can handle a good deal of big forwards in this league. *IF* he got CJ's message about intensity and consistency, he could become, for this year at least, a very good 3rd line center (Much better than Perreault since he's better defensively and much better that Juneau since he's better offensively, as well as being bigger and faster than both of them). Ryder and him were working well together in the AHL, Ryder lighting a fire most of the time in Hossa's rearend by providing grit and aggressiveness. Sundstrom provides the necessary experience to bring stability and consistency in this line.

4th line: Still good defensively. If Kilger comes back he'll be able to add even more size down the middle and if Higgins does well in the AHL, he could be called back, maybe after the all-star game, to bring in extra grit/defensive abilities.

That's my (new ) take on things given the direction this team seems to be heading in.

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09-25-2003, 05:08 PM
  #2
Mike8
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How can I not endorse a post that has Perreault being removed?

It would worry me to have two defensive liabilities and softies on the same line. So out of those top 6, the two softies and defensive liabilities are Audette and Ribeiro. Keep them apart, and it looks good.

The third line looks very solid. I like that suggestion.

Fourth line I don't like as much. Juneau is too slow to play wing. He would be more effective down the middle.

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09-25-2003, 05:23 PM
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike8
How can I not endorse a post that has Perreault being removed?

It would worry me to have two defensive liabilities and softies on the same line. So out of those top 6, the two softies and defensive liabilities are Audette and Ribeiro. Keep them apart, and it looks good.

The third line looks very solid. I like that suggestion.

Fourth line I don't like as much. Juneau is too slow to play wing. He would be more effective down the middle.
Hey I agree, everything in there's open to debate so I'm not saying these are the only lines that work. I just wanted to give an example of how we could organize/manage our lines considering the official team's defensive direction.

You're right about Ribeiro and Audette. But hey if they can rack up the points and if Bulis could somewhat cover for them, why not. Of course it's not the ideal solution but I don't see soft one-dimensional players fitting anywhere anyway, call me crazy.

Might be right about Juneau. Could just as well be a 4th line of Kilger - Juneau - Dackell which although would not score very often (which is less a problem considering it's not the 3rd line), would not cost us too many costly goals.

I just think we have to go with the flow. If we decide we'll play in a defensive system, might as well only keep the players we have now that are best suited for the job.

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09-25-2003, 05:55 PM
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The weakest link is clearly Audette. Since his injury hes nowhere the player he used to be plus hes small. Ryder could replace him easily and do a better job.

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09-25-2003, 08:06 PM
  #5
Mike8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Komisarek
The weakest link right now imo is Andreas Dackell..
Dackell does not really hurt the team. He is decent on the PK, a decent skater, coachable, and knows how to play systems. He can also cycle the puck and play decent hockey if paired with the right linemates. I'm not his biggest fan but I do appreciate the fundamentals he brings.

I can see where you can say he's the 'weakest link' talent wise, but in terms of what the team needs to achieve, I don't think he's among the top five weakest players. The team's first and foremost objective needs to be team unity and implementing a system. To implement a system, system players are needed. Dackell is a system player. Players that hurt systems are: Perreault, Audette, Brisebois (somewhat), Kilger, Juneau (last year's version), Ribeiro, Dykhuis (last year's version).

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09-25-2003, 10:22 PM
  #6
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The weakest link, is the lack of character throughout the lineup. Our team is littered with soft players, who notoriously skate through the season with little concern or desire.

Dackell, Sundstrom, Juneau, Perrault, Ribeiro, Brisebois,Traverse, Quintal,
... the list just goes on and on.

This team strikes the fear of god into nobody.

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09-25-2003, 10:48 PM
  #7
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I'll say Ribeiro , he's just not effective when we need it .

In 2 season Perrault scored 51 goals and 51 assists in for 102 pts in 155 games and he was our top faceoff guy ( league too )

In 2 season Ribs scored a big 13 goals and 22assist for 35 points in 60 games less than Yanic .

Perrault shooting % last year : 16.6%
Ribs : 8.8%

Ribs : -14 in less games than Perrault over 2 years . Perrualt was -14 over these years but played 60 less games .



At least Ribs bring hopes .... but i think & hope he'll be out soon , thanks Bob for that 2 Way deal

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09-26-2003, 09:04 AM
  #8
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IMO the weakest link on the team is the coaching staff. Outside of Melanson, they are likely the worst staff in the league. Proof is the poor line changes and special teams.

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09-26-2003, 09:39 AM
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I still say that Juneau has to go. He's making too much money for what he does for us. Dackell is much more affordable and essentially the same as Juneau. Dackell should be a healthy scratch on most nights and he should only come into the lineup to fill-in for injuries. I would give Audette a chance to play this year because even though he's small he's feisty.

If this defensive system helps us stay competitive in each game I'll be very happy.

I also agree that Yannic has to be traded. I have no doubt BG knows this as well.

Cap

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09-26-2003, 12:23 PM
  #10
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I dont see any weakest link now. If all player starts playing a system, they could all fit into it. Remember Karya, how can Karya play defansive hockey??? But thats what a good system can do.

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09-26-2003, 12:51 PM
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Munchausen
4th line: Still good defensively. If Kilger comes back he'll be able to add even more size down the middle and if Higgins does well in the AHL, he could be called back, maybe after the all-star game, to bring in extra grit/defensive abilities.
Good post! Not much to disagree with but I have one ax to grind about Higgins.

Except for Kev, I am probably Higgs biggest fan here being a Montreal fan and a Yale season ticket holder. But I can't see using Higgins in a defensive role at this point in his career. He is a talented and creative offensive player who is responsible defensively. I know that he hasn't proven anything at the NHL level yet (and he won't if he plays 12:00 minutes a game with on a line that can't pressure or maintain possession of the puck). I just don't see his strengths as being defensive coverage coming from NCAA at 20 years old. And I am afraid it is setting him up for a fall.

He might turn into a Peca type in a few years when his body is finished developing and he has a 2+ NHL years under his belt but I see Jeff O'Neill much more than Peca. IMO, Chris Higgins in 2-3 years = hits, goals and assists. This year let him develop into the player that he will be, not a -25 backchecker with linemates who can't score.

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09-26-2003, 03:52 PM
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Dykhuis

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Old
09-26-2003, 03:52 PM
  #13
Munchausen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ttnorm
Good post! Not much to disagree with but I have one ax to grind about Higgins.

Except for Kev, I am probably Higgs biggest fan here being a Montreal fan and a Yale season ticket holder. But I can't see using Higgins in a defensive role at this point in his career. He is a talented and creative offensive player who is responsible defensively. I know that he hasn't proven anything at the NHL level yet (and he won't if he plays 12:00 minutes a game with on a line that can't pressure or maintain possession of the puck). I just don't see his strengths as being defensive coverage coming from NCAA at 20 years old. And I am afraid it is setting him up for a fall.

He might turn into a Peca type in a few years when his body is finished developing and he has a 2+ NHL years under his belt but I see Jeff O'Neill much more than Peca. IMO, Chris Higgins in 2-3 years = hits, goals and assists. This year let him develop into the player that he will be, not a -25 backchecker with linemates who can't score.
A lot of yougnsters, albeit good, start their NHL career on the 3rd line. Chistov is a name that comes to mind in recent history. He'll likely play as a top-6 this year on a scoring line.

There's a good thing about playing a rookie in a defensive role, which is letting him adapt, especially when he's sound defensively like Higgins, as he doesn't have the pressure to produce offensively. He can then slowly adjust to the pace of the game with decent ice time and slowly climb his way to the top-2 lines. Nothing wrong with this kind of progression.

What's dangerous is when the coach doesn't want to ease the prospect into the team and throw him on a scoring line to then demote him when he's in a slump, therefore killing his confidence (read Hossa here). Or it's also non-sense when a rookie is played 8 minutes a game on the 4th line without real possibility to earn more ice time as all the veterans are locks in front of him.

But playing Higgins in a defensive role first to adjust to the faster tempo and then move up as time go by is not a bad move IMO.


edit - typo

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09-26-2003, 04:21 PM
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Munchausen
But playing Higgins in a defensive role first to adjust to the faster tempo and then move up as time go by is not a bad move IMO.
I am not saying that that is an unreasonable approach for your elite prospects. All I would be concerned about is too little ice time, undo pressure building up when the points don't come in the checking role, and the main point that Higgins is not going to be any more than an adequate NHL defensive guy this year. I'd personally rather see him develop his special teams skills at 23 minutes per game with the Bulldogs than play away from his strengths backchecking for 13 minutes per in the NHL. But both have their advantages.

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09-26-2003, 04:52 PM
  #15
Munchausen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ttnorm
I'd personally rather see him develop his special teams skills at 23 minutes per game with the Bulldogs than play away from his strengths backchecking for 13 minutes per in the NHL. But both have their advantages.
We agree on that. I also want Higgins to start in an offensive role in Hamilton. I was talking about when (if) he would get called back much later in the year.

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