The Montreal Canadiens have lost three straight, i.e. every game Thomas Vanek’s played for them since his trade deadline acquisition. They’re 5-4-1 overall in their last 10 games, falling to a wild card spot with 77 points and suddenly sniffing the Detroit Red Wings, Washington Capitals and New Jersey Devils lingering near the bubble.
They’ve scored two goals or less in four of the six games they’ve played this month; which, again, is a little frustrating after you’ve landed the biggest offensive fish in the trade ocean and he’s managed a single assist in a blowout loss to the Boston Bruins.
From Sean Gordon of the Globe & Mail, Coach Michel Therrien on Vanek’s “adjustments” to his new lineup:
As Therrien strives over the final 15 regular-season games to create a balanced, three-line scoring attack – the key to making noise in the postseason – he has limited his experimentation regarding Vanek to playing him with either Pacioretty and Desharnais (where he’ll start on his off-wing Saturday against the Ottawa Senators) or with the defence-first pair of Plekanec and Gionta.
“[Vanek’s] got to make some adjustments to his game. I understand that he’s confident on the left side, he’s been playing there most of his career, but at times you’ve got to adjust with the players that you’ve got and put together lines that you think that you’ll have success as a team,” Therrien said after a 90 minute team practice during which injured goalie Carey Price complete his longest workout since the Olympics (he’s still listed as day-to-day).
Gordon makes the point that Therrien might need to think radically in reshaping the lines to juice the offense and find a comfort zone. Would it make more sense, for example, to try Vanek with Alex Galchenyuk rather than reunite Galchenyuk with his EGG Liners Brendan Gallagher and Lars “1 point in 24 games” Eller, as is the plan for Ottawa on Saturday?
It’s the risk you run when added a significant piece to your lineup at the deadline: Where, and how, that piece fits. There’s enough time before the postseason for the Habs to figure that out … provided, of course, that their wild card lead is significant enough to provide time to tinker without the threat of missing the postseason.