FanPost

Entry: Who takes the final defense spot?

At the present time, the Habs have 7 NHL-ready defenseman on the roster. But the question remains: Who will take the last spot? Tinordi or Beaulieu? Both have played 4 NHL games thus far. While they both play very well, they play different styles. Tinordi plays a bigger, physical game whereas Beaulieu plays a more offensive style of game. Personally, I think Nathan Beaulieu deserves to be the 6th defenseman on the Canadiens. The Canadiens have a terrible power play. Plain and simple. It's bottom half of the league at the moment and desperately needs to improve. If the power play gets going, the Habs might be able to score a few more goals in the first two periods, and avoid having to conduct amazing comebacks all the time. Sure, comebacks are awesome to see and the fans love them but in the end, the Canadiens need to win hockey games and eventually teams will tighten up on defense in the third period against the Habs and not allow them to score so late in the game. Carey Price can single handedly keep us in games and the Canadiens need to score goals so he can do that.

That's where the power play comes in. Presently, the Habs are 30th overall in total power play time with 35:28 minutes worth of power plays over 8 games, with the first place Anaheim nearly doubling that. Although the Habs get little power play time, they need to start converting on the power plays they do get. With Nathan Beaulieu, you get an offensive defenseman who can work the second power play unit with Tom Gilbert who is a great skater and has a heck of a wrist shot. He is exactly the type of left-handed offensive defenseman needed to help the struggling power play. At 5-on-5, it is beneficial to have Beaulieu paired with Weaver, playing 15 minutes a night or so, to possibly provide an offensive spark and help an already good breakout with his exceptional passing ability. Not only can he help offensively, but defensively he is sound. Like most young NHL defenseman he has quite a bit to work on, but playing in the NHL full time would really help him adjust to the NHL speed of decision making, an art he already has a grip on. While Tinordi is by all means a serviceable NHL defenseman, he turns the puck over a fair amount. While he has improved significantly in that regard since last year. The most devastating turnover last year being the one on the offensive blueline off of a pass from Desharnais against Columbus. Tinordi majorly fumbled the pass, allowing Ryan Johansen to take it from him and fly down the ice on a breakaway in the final two minutes of the game to roof the game winning goal from the backhand over the blocker of Carey Price. Tinordi has improved since last year, but I've seen a few flashes of last year from him and currently don't trust him on the point in the offensive zone. Beaulieu is good with the puck, but away from the puck it's a bit different. He is not a great body checker. But his defensive positioning is pretty good for a defenseman of his age and it will continue to improve with playing time in the NHL. Tinordi is arguably a better defensive player, in terms of both defensive positioning, stick checking and body checking. Another thing to consider however, is the player that the young 6th d-man will be playing with.

Enter Mike Weaver. The veteran defensive d-man is very good defensively, and blocks shots like nobody's business. He is a big reason why I feel Beaulieu should see more games. Tinordi plays a similar style to Weaver, but plays it in a bigger way. He checks more, and blocks shots less. Beaulieu on the other hand is more of a puck moving defenseman, who has a good shot and great puck control. He'd be a perfect compliment to Mike Weaver, who can more than handle being flanked by an offensive defenseman. On top of that, they have shown chemistry before, especially in last years playoffs where Beaulieu recorded 2 assists and was +3 in 7 games. He would provide much needed offense behind Subban and Gilbert while being protected defensively by Weaver. It's unrealistic to say that Beaulieu will be the next Erik Karlsson or PK Subban, but he certainly has the potential to be a solid top 4 defenseman for the Habs. And who knows? In a year or two, after he has more NHL experience under his belt, he might very well be playing with PK Subban on the top pairing. There are a reasons to support Jarred Tinordi playing more minutes, though. For one, Weaver is not a big guy. And he isn't the most amazing body checker either. He's not bad, and he can throw the big hits, but not very consistently. Jarred Tinordi would provide another defensive and a much more physical component to that pairing.

After all of this, I come to the conclusion that the Canadiens would be better served with Beaulieu on the left of Mike Weaver. He provides great offensive capabilities, a relatively big guy and very good skating to the final defensive pairing. Am I right? Am I so wrong I should throw my TV and Computer into the St. Lawrence River and give up watching the Habs for ever? Let me know!

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