Habs Top Line, All Rubber Bullets

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Apart from Brian Gionta, the Habs top line can't fight it's way in close. It's no surprise the lone goal came off Gionta's stick.

The skills of Scott Gomez and Mike Cammalleri do not dictate the job description of crashing the D to gain the crease. It's not entirely a size thing, but some size on that line would not hurt it. Cammalleri is an opportunist is the slot - that's his game. Gomez is the feeder, a total perimeter player if there ever was one. An anti - Koivu who rarely gets his nose dirty.

GOMER CAN'T PILE

I've noticed something about Gomez of late, and I hate it.

Watch him without the puck sometimes. He skates with his stick in both hands, not one. The stick is parallel to the ice, waist high, and not touching the surface. It reeks of hockey parlance for "don't pass me the puck".

Watch Gomez on a break, he'll pass it off and curl away, coiling towards his blueline. He has a decent shot and some great moves. He should bare down after passing off, and break for the net. He doesn't, and it's starting to gnaw at me.

I don't like perimeter centers. Don't like Thornton, don't like Spezza.

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You know what I miss about Saku Koivu? The way he went to the net without exception, always taking a player with him and freeing up his trailer. He'd take the defender right to the back board and work that area. How often did you see Koivu score from anywhere further than a 15 foot radius of the net.

I'll say it again. Gomez passes off and coils. Andrei Markov's return will only give Gomez a head of steam before he gets ten feet inside the line and coils.

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WHAT IS AND WHAT SHOULD NEVER BE

A number one line should have three requisit elements:

A sniper who can fight off checks as he cruises into the slot to pounce on scoring chances.

A winger who can cycle and dig till daylight ends, wearing down the opposing defender.

A center who not only can dish and deke, but is quick enough and properly positioned to win loose pucks and maintain possession.

Of these three, one must have the physical presence to cause havoc at the lip of the crease.

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Now Cammalleri, given the time and space, is killer, but his best scoring chances vanish rapidly as he is easily nudged off the puck. How many times have you seen his opportunities disappear almost as quickly as they came. Wind up and blow a tire. He cannot be what he is not, which is a power forward.

In Gionta's case, he may be relentless, but he'll scare no one in attempting to body a player off the puck. He has to rely on his savvy and cunning, which are second to none. He's a pest in all the good ways, but against any top pairing D in the league, he'll not bang and bruise too many.

Gomez is all set up, but often waits to pass until he has to, and not while he has options. He's hesitant one on one, as he seldom puts himself in that position. His decisions often eliminate his options. In battling behind the net, he lacks that savvy and cunning instinct that would win him battles. Worst of all, he lacks any semblance of killer instinct.

The line in sum is all flash and little completion. It's perfectly suited for four on four overtime and shootouts, and that's hardly a compliment.

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Against the Lightning, this trio had 17 shots on goals, another nine went wide or were blocked. The line eats up minutes as all players passed 20 on this night.

The Canadiens are bemoaning a lack of secondary scoring, yet they have this "all eggs in one basket" line.

They get a dozen and more great scoring chances per game, but finishing is an issue. They do all this razzle dazzle at blinding light speed, like a bunch of Russ Courtnall's on anoverdose of Prozak.

The line gives the appearance that it is working out, but its conversion rate on chances tells another story.

 

Apart from Brian Gionta, the Habs top line can't fight it's way in close. It's no surprise the lone goal came off Gionta's stick.

The skills of Scott Gomez and Mike Cammalleri do not dictate the job description of crashing the D to gain the crease. It's not entirely a size thing, but some size on that line would not hurt it. Cammalleri is an opportunist is the slot - that's his game. Gomez is the feeder, a total perimeter player if there ever was one. An anti - Koivu who rarely gets his nose dirty.

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