Left Wing Recycle

There have been no fewer than 8 different members of the Montreal Canadiens who have lined up on the left wing  alongside Thomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta this season.

Here is a breakdown: (even strength situations only)

Player:              Time on ice :   Goals scored : Goals allowed: 

  1. Bournival;      140 mins  :                    5     :         6
  2. Briere:              101 mins :                     8    ;         1
  3. Bourque:          88 mins  :                    1    :          0
  4. Galkchenyuk:   88 mins:                    2   :           5    
  5. Moen:                   81  mins:                  1   :           2
  6. Eller:                     55 mins                      1  :            4   
  7. Prust:                  42 mins   :                  2   :           2
  8. Pacioretty:       39 mins  :                  1   :          1 

Is it any wonder why knowledgeable hockey fans in Montreal are question the competence of Coach Michel Therrien?

Changing lines is one thing, but Therrien has taken to to the extreme. Daniel Briere has been on the ice for 17 even strength goals the entire season in 446 minutes of ice time. An average of one goal scored every 26 minutes.  When playing left wing with  Plekanec and Gionta the team has scored a goal every 12.5 minutes.      ( 8 GF in 101 mins). When Briere has played with any other players the tea,m has scored 9 goals in 345 minutes , an average of  one goal scored every 38 minutes.

Defensively Briere is on the ice for an average of one goal against every  21 minutes.  When playing with Plekanec and Gionta one goal against in 101 minutes, when playing with any other players 20 Goals allowed in 345 minutes , an average of one  goal every 17 minutes.

In essence ,  what we are witnessing is an incompetent coach who is scrambling his lines so frequently that he doesn’t seem to remember which combinations were actually producing. 

It must be very frustrating for a player like Plekanec, not to mention Briere, who is constantly in the coaches dog house for not producing., to be  continuously lined up with different team mates.

Anyone care to guess why Eller played on Plekanec’s wing the last few games……..On Jan 16th against Ottawa, when Therrien was doing his usual mid game line shuffling he happened to  put Eller on the wing  with Plekanec and Gionta.  Plekanec scored a goal to tie the game 4-4 in the third period. It seems as if Therrien figured that he found the golden combination because for the next 4 games he played Eller on the wing with Plekanec and Gionta while playing Briere at center on a different line.

To summarize Briere played 101 minutes with  Plekanec and Gionta, they produced  8 goals and the line was split up and never reunited. Eller plays a couple of shifts , the  line happens to score a goal and because of that the he takes Eller away from his natural center position to play on the wing , while playing Briere at center in Eller’s place.  Anyone watching could see that Eller was not comfortable on the wing, yet Therrien stuck with them through a  4 game losing streak,  until finally putting Eller back at center for the game against the Hurricanes.

Thanks for reading my first blog!


Steve O.


Update: Over  Super Bowl weekend, with Bournival out of the lineup on Saturday, Therrien started off by playing Moen with Plekanec and Gionta, after being shut out through two periods Briere was re-inserted on the line and he scored the team’s only goal on his 4th shift.

On Sunday versus Winnipeg, with Bournival back in the lineup, Therrien kept the Briere,  Plekanec and Gionta line together for the entire game! Gionta  scored the Hab’s only goal, but it was on a 4 on 4 situation with Briere on the bench.

3 thoughts on “Left Wing Recycle”

  1. UPDATE: Here are the update d numbers for the Plekanec and Gionta left winger recycle program:

    Left wingers playing with Plekanec and Gionta:

    Player: Time on ice : Goals scored : Goals allowed:

    Bournival; 172 mins : 5 : 6
    Briere: 170 mins : 10 ; 1
    Bourque: 97 mins : 1 : 0
    Galchenyuk: 135 mins: 4 : 7
    Moen: 94 mins: 1 : 3
    Eller: 48 mins 1 : 2
    (earlier numbers posted were incorrect)
    Prust: 45 mins : 3 : 2
    Pacioretty: 42 mins : 1 : 1
    Vanek: 24 mins : 0 : 1

    Interesting that not only has is the line of Briere, Plekanec and Gionta been our best producing offensive line this season (averaging one goal scored every 17 minutes at even strength), they have also been the most effective defensive (shut down) line as well having been on for only one even strength goal in 170 minutes of even strength ice time.

    Just for comparison sake, the team, as a whole, has averaged one Goal scored every 33 minutes at even strength, and allowed one goal against every 28 minutes on the season so far.


  2. Thanks for doing the hard work on these stats. This pretty much backs up what any smart Habs fan has seen this year, Briere has played his best when on the wing with Pleks and Gio. I think the reason why he has been centering the 3rd and 4th lines so much is because this is where he is more comfortable. Briere prefers to play Center and was promised this position before coming to MTL but he obviously does much better when playing on the wing. Every time that line is together it’s like found money, they score goals. I hope MT sees this and decides to keep them together once and for-all.

  3. Great data analysis SteverenO! When you put it that way it seems crazy that Therrien would put these combination of players on the ice…looking forward to more posts.

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