Friday, 7 March 2014

Adding Tomas Vanek means the Canadiens need to shuffle their forward lines


These are the Canadiens top three lines.  In the right configuration.

1) We need to jolt René Bourque back to life, let's see if a couple of seeing-eye passes from David on his stick for tap-ins gets him re-energized.  And as we've parroted to each other ceaselessly for a couple years now, he has had his best seasons playing on the right wing, even though he shoots left, it's an Erik Cole situation.

René would need some very hands-on coaching, with lots of video, telling him where he needs to be.  David darts everywhere in the offensive zone, and Max seeks out open spaces so he can unleash a wrister, therefore René's job is to stand in front of the net, dig for the puck behind the net, generally make himself a nuisance to goalies.  He's not contact-averse, or lazy, he just sometimes seems to be aimless, like he's not sure what his role is.  Let's narrow it down for him: you're Brendan Gallagher, but bigger and stronger.  And you'll get goals.  Lots of them, if you find your stroke.

2)  Same with Daniel Brière, give him more of a chance to produce by putting him on the top line and allowing him to be creative.  Massage the lineup based on who we're facing, insert René when the other team is bigger and tougher.  Insert Daniel against speedier teams, or when René's focus flags.

3)  Thomas Vanek prefers the left wing spot, give him a few games to let him acclimate to Tomas and Gio.  Unless there's a fundamental lack of chemistry, he should be fine.  The effort should be there, it's his contract year.  If he looks at Michael Ryder's case this off-season, he'll figure out it's not in his best interests to coast for the final twenty games.

4)  Kid line!  Let's attach the Gallagherizer battery to the electrodes on Lars' neck, see if he can jump-start his game.  When Max was injured early this season and underperforming, and David was going through an existential funk/drought, they were given the benefit of the Brendan to get their sync back.  If it worked for them, if it was fair and right to do so, let's do the same for Lars, and Alex, to a lesser degree.  While I do remember that this line runs hot and cold, and they were ice-cold when they were broken up, it's certainly worth a shot to see if they can re-capture the magic.  You think Lars won't get an extra spring in his stride seeing Brendan on his right wing instead of Dale Weise?

5)  The bottom line should normally consist of Ryan White at centre, or sometimes Brandon Prust, with a rotating cast of Travis Moen, Brandon Prust and Dale Weise on the wings.  Mix in Michaël Bournival when he's ready.  Deploy the Parrosator when necessary.  In very rare circumstances should Daniel Brière centre this line, and again this would only occur when playing an opponent when we need scoring instead of size and toughness.

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