Kukla's Korner Hockey
by The Upper Canadien on 11/04/10 at 07:41 PM ET
Interesting day on the farm in Habsland. Max Pacioretty, in a radio interview with Tony Marinaro of the Team 990, expanded on an RDS article that noted he’d rather stay in the AHL for the season than be called up to Montreal. Many interpret his comments as a slight against Jacques Martin, as he noted that former coach Guy Carbonneau gave him lots of confidence by reassuring him and working with him, yet under Martin every time he made a mistake he ended up on the fourth line.
Pacioretty commented that it is better for his development to play second line in Hamilton, even if he stays for the full year, than it is to play fourth line in Montreal. And you know what? That’s refreshing. Too often guys think they deserve to be in the NHL from the start, but as we know most need seasoning. For the record, Pacioretty and former college roommate Aaron Palushaj are tearing up Hamilton in the early going, with 12 points in ten games and nine points in five games respectively.
Also succeeding under the tutelage of Randy Cunneyworth for the Bulldogs? David Desharnais, with 14 points in 11 games to start the year. As many will recall, Desharnais had a very positive training camp and was a fairly late cut. Interestingly, Ryan White, who many thought should have made the team, has had a lacklustre start to the season, with only four points in ten games.
While it remains unlikely any of these players are called up in the near future, with the lack of offence from the Habs second line, one never knows what Jacques Martin may try to shake up the team. A call-up is always possible, but a constant re-juggling of the lines is much more likely, as every Habs fan knows.
Speaking of line changes, the trios were in fact different today in practice, with Andrei Kostitsyn bumping down to the second line to play with Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta. Martin spent the day trying out Lars Eller with Tomas Plekanec and Mike Cammalleri. Can Kostitsyn get the GG’s going? While most will see the demotion of Kostitsyn as a potential worry, since his chemistry with the top line seemed to be growing, it may in fact mean more pucks go to Cammalleri, which could be a good thing. These changes go under the heading of sharing the wealth, as the coaching staff attempts to jumpstart his second line.
As for the top line, many have been disappointed with the play of Eller, but he has had little in terms of real chances on offensive lines. Will he stay with Plekanec and Cammalleri for a time, or, like Pacioretty, be sent back to the fourth line after a mistake? Anything is possible on a Jacques Martin team.
The Habs face Buffalo tomorrow evening, and then a rising Ottawa team on Saturday. Carey Price is expected to start Friday night, and if he plays well I would suspect he goes Saturday as well. If the Habs make it through the weekend successfully, they will still be battling for the top of the East, safe in the knowledge that their good start continues.
However, should they play poorly this weekend, and should the offence continue to sputter, is a trade in the offing? Three points each after 12 games just will not do for Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta. A power play firing at less than 5% is unacceptable. Tomas Plekanec, Andrei Kostitsyn and Mike Cammalleri cannot continue to account for 50% of Montreal’s goals. Should the second line continue to falter, something’s gotta give. Is the answer a free agent signing or a trade acquisition?
I gotta believe after today’s comments, the answer definitely isn’t Max Pacioretty.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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