Lars Eller is set to be a healthy scratch tonight in Vancouver, after being benched against Calgary, with Brandon Prust drawing up in the lineup to the third center slot, and Michael Bournival finally getting his first game of the year.
A few short days ago, Michel Therrien was saying all the right things in regards to his third line, who were playing some excellent hockey in very tough minutes.
Michel Therrien on Eller's line, says they're creating chances: "You should not make the mistake of relying on plus-minus. We don't." Amen.— Аrpon Basu (@ArponBasu) October 24, 2014
So Therrien is putting Eller's line in difficult situations and he's obviously aware of that, which will impact how he judges its play— Аrpon Basu (@ArponBasu) October 24, 2014
That's the kind of thing you expect to hear from an intelligent coach that knows that different roles result in different expectations. David Desharnais gets nearly 40% of the Canadiens' offensive zone faceoffs at even strength, so his line should be expected to provide a lion's share of the offense.
Lars Eller on the other hand, is playing with the leftover wingers, including a player that has no hands and is in the midst of significant decline(Rene Bourque), and for the last four games, a fourth liner (Dale Weise). Eller receives only 18.8% of the offensive zone faceoffs the Canadiens earn at even strength, and he most of his shifts (64.3%) starting in the defensive zone.
Obviously the two players can not be expected to produce the same amount of offense.
So it seemed, for a time, that Therrien got it, then he benched Eller against the Calgary Flames, a game no player on the Canadiens not named Carey Price was giving their best performance. But a benching can be an example, that's fine. Therrien could single out Eller as a message to the team that they had to give a better effort, he loves his messages. Only Therrien gave excuses for his team after the game instead, citing the game the previous night, and three games in four nights, saying his guys were tired.
So if Therrien is willing to forgive the roster as a whole for getting lambasted by an AHL level team in Calgary, a team that going into that game had been getting outshot nearly as badly as Buffalo, why is he all over Eller? It doesn't make any sense, and it makes even less sense that Eller is apparently scratched against the Vancouver Canucks tonight.
The Canadiens are currently 8-2-0, yet they're being outshot overall, being outscored overall, and Carey Price has stolen games in the same way as last season. No one is really scoring, and Therrien is taking out someone who actually can score. In fact, the Canadiens have scored four goals in the previous three games, two of which Lars Eller was directly involved in.
Pacioretty - Desharnais - Gallagher
Galchenyuk - Plekanec - Parenteau
Bourque - Prust - Bournival
Moen - Malhotra - Weise