MECHANT MARDI WARNING

by Jacob Saltiel
Black_Panther_on_mud_hill

It’s -20 in Montreal?
from http://woostermiddle.stratfordk12.org

No doubt looking forward to tonight’s game against the Canadiens, the Florida Panthers took Monday night off, losing 4-0 to the Ottawa Senators.

Juggling

Since losing to the Leafs on Saturday, Therrien has been experimenting to generate something resembling cohesion from his 2nd and 3rd lines.

Chantal Machabee of RDS just tweeted that the result of these experiments is to drop Eller* from the lineup, move Galchenyuk and Gallagher to the 3rd line with Prust, and bump Bourque up to Plekanec’s wing as follows:

PaciorettyDesharnaisCole

Gionta-Plekanec-Bourque

Prust-Galchenyuk-Gallagher

MoenWhiteArmstrong

Assuming this is what the lines will be by gametime, it looks like Therrien’s hoping to put together a 3rd line with some grit, scoring, and peskiness (moving from left-to-right across your computer monitor). Given that Gallagher’s also a rookie, and Galchenyuk struggled to distinguish himself on Saturday, it might be optimistic to expect structured play from this line.

Last year, Bourque failed to do much riding shotgun with Plekanec, and it’s not as if he had an extended training camp to build chemistry. Despite that, Bourque might be an improvement on Galchenyuk by scrambling less and providing a better target for Plekanec’s passes.

Word is that Bouillon will still be patrolling the 2nd unit powerplay as Therrien insists on playing Kaberle and Markov together.

The Return
Kovalev will probably get some cheers tonight, and the Habs will get a look at least year’s Southeast Division champions.

The Panthers have two scoring lines. Last year’s top-line of Fleischmann, Weiss, and possibly Scottie Upshall in Versteeg’s absence** returns. The other scoring line is big and consists of Kovalev, Mueller, and the exciting young Huberdeau.

Therrien will have to match one of his top-two lines against one of those Florida lines, since he doesn’t have two checking lines. It’s unreasonable to expect Galchenyuk to match up defensively against the Panthers and the 4th line should be rumbling with the big line and trying to intimidate Huberdeau and knock Kovalev out of his narrow comfort zone.

Theodore will be sitting this game out, which may not help the Habs if the Desharnais trio can’t run wild on the Florida defence.

Big Game Hunting

The Panthers should be tired from two days in two nights. If the Canadiens can play with more organization on their 2nd and 3rd lines than they did on Saturday, they should be able to take this game. Of course, with Kovalev in town, there’s the possibility he reciprocates the love from the stands with a huge night, setting up Huberdeau for success in his first game in Quebec.

***

*Not sure why Eller’s getting dropped so soon in the season other than for Therrien to make a point.

Machabee, again: “Lars Eller laissé de côté pour le match de ce soir. Pourquoi cette décision après un match? “Pas le temps de niaiser” a répondu M. Therrien.”

This translates as:

Reporter: Lars Eller is a healthy scratch tonight. Why would you drop him from the lineup after just one game?
Therrien: No time to screw around.

**Versteeg’s on the IR with hip surgery

.

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