Seems a little odd that the way to solve the Canadiens five-on-five offensive woes is to make an adjustment on team defense but, after tinkering with his forward lines over the last four games, that is the only thing Michel Therrien could come up with.
At Monday practice, Therrien moved P.K. Subban back up with Andrei Markov and placed Tom Gilbert with Alexei Emelin. Whether the move will kickstart the forwards is open to question. Having Subban and Markov together will definitely change the puck possession numbers.
There are many, including most of the hockey analytics crowd, who think the signing of Gilbert was a mistake. I’m not one of them. At least not yet. Judging by the ice time given him, neither is Therrien.
Gilbert was paired with Markov from the beginning of training camp. It hasn’t been the best of marriages. Their game never seemed to synch up. As a unit their 5-on-5 Corsi numbers are the worst among the Canadiens defensemen with Gilbert at 48.3% and Markov at 48.8, figures not improved by the fact that they make most of the defensive zone starts.
The fact that Gilbert is one of the league leaders in giveaways also has fans grumbling although this problem has never shown up in his past seasons with Florida and Minnesota. It should be added that Gilbert is also in the league’s top ten in blocked shots. A change does seem in order and Therrien apparently is going to try Gilbert with a stay-at-home guy like Emelin something that might relieve the pressure of those tough minutes he faced playing next to Markov. We’ll see how it works out.
So far as the forward lines are concerned, it continues to be musical right-wingers.
Off his game against Calgary, Dale Weise has earned his spot on the line with Desharnais and Pacioretty. Were you aware that Weise has assists on three of Pacioretty’s five goals this season? That means Gallagher stays with Galchenyuk and Plekanec and Parenteau is back with Eller and Bourque. Sekac and Bournival continue to be the Canadiens spare parts.
Lines at Monday practice
Pacioretty – Desharnais – Weise
Galchenyuk – Plekanec – Gallagher
Bourque – Eller – Parenteau
Prust – Malhotra – Moen
Markov – Subban
Emelin – Gilbert
Beaulieu – Weaver