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