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Sunday, November 7, 2010

On The Defense

Well, another week has gone by in Habsland.  The results this week are not too promising - the only win has been against the Sabres...They are really playing pitiful so far this year..but I digress.

There has been a general call for the Habs to get the lead out - one thing this team has in abundance is speed up front, savvy veterans and a nice mixture of youth on the side.  They are still a work in progress and you know sooner than later, they will break out of their slumps.  J-Mart has been accused of keeping the veterans in their comfort zone for too long.  Hey, I am one of those to be sure.  One thing I found in the past two games is that the aforementioned veterans may be starting to come around.  Has AK46 gone cold or just in a mini-slump about to burst at the seams?  Wish I knew the answer to that one. 

The defensive core this year has some issues to work out.  There are 8 defenders on the active roster, only 6 of which play the other two are wasting away in Balconville. 

According to reports, Picard has been told to find accommodations in Montreal.  If this is indeed the case, this means there are some changes in the offing.  Has anyone else noticed that since Picard is no longer in the lineup the team is no longer playing as well as they were?  I thought so. Contract status: UFA at the end f the year. 

The other way to look at it is since Markov came back the team has not played well.  Personally I choose not to look at it this way because Markov is an elite defenseman in this league.  He needs to work out the kinks a little - He will come around.  It was major surgery and he seems a little tentative out there. Contract status: UFA at the end of the year. Now to find a way to get Picard in the lineup without sitting Markov.....

Ryan O'Byrne has some upside and I believe he is on the trading block as a package.  That is the only thing that makes sense to me. OB + for ???.  He desperately needs a change of scenery.  He will probably flourish elsewhere.  Then we Habs fans will yell and have revisionist thinking on another one of our prospects.  Contract Status:  RFA end of the year.

How Spacek continues to hold a spot is way beyond me.  The guy is putting forth an effort - that can be seen on the ice, he seems to have just lost the extra step he had earlier in his career best we can hope for is he retires He would be a good candidate for a buyout at the end of the season.  Contract Status: signed until end of next season at a cap hit of 3.8M. 

In fact, the only other d-man currently on the roster signed after this year is PK.  As expected he has showed flashes of brilliance.  The other teams have zeroed in on him as a key to the habs.. He is constantly being hit as they try to get him off his game and take stupid penalties.  He still has some growing to do but is progressing nicely. Contract status: entry level contract RFA end of next year.

Hal Gill is still a slow footed, stay at home D-man who can elevate his game when playing against the best the NHL has to offer.  He cannot do that for 82 games plus playoffs - not a fault because no one can. He is what he is and he does more right than wrong in my humble opinion.  Contract Status: UFA at the end of the season.

Josh Gorges is a good serviceable defenseman.  He is not flashy, not spectacular, he quietly and effectively gets the job done.  He is starting to shoot more which will help on a team that is having trouble scoring. He brings a lot to the table every night and seldom gets caught out of position. Contract Status: RFA at the end of the year (due for a big raise as he earns less than OB).

Last, but certainly not least, Roman Hamrlik he has lost a step but is still effective at keeping the puck put of the net.  He is a steadying influence back there.  Would I sign him to an extension? Probably not.  He is a good serviceable defenseman who would be better playing fewer minutes who can step up when needed but not all the time.  Contract Status: UFA at the end of the season.

J-mart or Perry Pearne has not been able to properly utilize what he has on the defensive side of the ice.  Have they been too worried about offense?  Possibly.  I would like to see a new defensive alignment rising out of the ashes of this 8 legged monster.  In the meantime I am waiting for a trade or two to come down the pipe.

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