Habs Need More Offense From Tomas Plekanec

| December 11, 2011

Written by Habsterix, AllHabs.net

PENTICTON, BC. –Playing in a smothering coaching system leaving little room for creativity, skating alongside teammates struggling to put as many pucks in the net as they should, and with the fall of Scott Gomez in the last two seasons, it’s on Tomas Plekanec that falls the burden of being the number one center, the catalyst of an offensively challenged team.

Plek 300x206 Habs Need More Offense From Tomas Plekanec

(Photo: Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)

Plekanec is not having a bad season by any means, collecting 24 points in 30 games so far, which puts him on pace for a 65 points season. The question management and the coaching staff must ask themselves is where or how they can find ways to get more offense when the team sits 25th in the NHL in goals per game. In my opinion, it sits on the utilisation of their only proven and somewhat productive offensive center.

Under Jacques Martin, Tomas Plekanec is victim of his own strengths: skating, offensive threat and defensive awareness. Martin feels the need to use Plekanec short-handed to kill penalties due to that efficiency and the chemistry he’s developed in that role with Travis Moen. While no one in their right mind would argue his defensive ability, it’s also taking away time and energy which he could be using to generate offense instead.

Let’s look at a couple of other similar style centers and compare the ice time by their coaches. At home, Alain Vigneault will often put Henrik Sedin up against the opponent’s top line as he and his brother are so good at controlling the play. True that Vancouver can also rely on Ryan Kesler on the second line but that doesn’t take away from Sedin’s defensive ability. I’m also including three-time Selke winner Pavel Datsyuk for comparison.

Plekicetime 253x300 Habs Need More Offense From Tomas Plekanec

While the overall ice time is comparable, you will notice that Sedin and Datsyuk spend very little time killing penalties. If you watched their games, you will have noticed that Vigneault and Babcock put them on the ice immediately after a successful penalty kill, taking advantage of the fact that the other team’s top offensive players are resting on the bench and they’ll often be facing the third or fourth line on the other side. They are fresh to produce offensively against weaker competition.

As it sits now with the Canadiens, Plekanec wastes precious energy in a defensive role, and he’s sitting on the bench resting after a kill, leaving his offensive line mates like Cammalleri to play with third and fourth liners for a shift. Having to kill penalties takes key quality minutes away from attacking, and that’s crucial on an offensively challenged team.

You can teach defense but you can’t teach offensive skills. You want momentum in a game? Train some less offensively skills players to kill penalties and use your offensive weapons in an offensive role. It seems to be working for other teams.

En français: Le Canadien a besoin de l’offensive de Plekanec

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Category: Feature

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About the Author ()

Habsterix is a fictional character created for the sole purpose of the internet. Based on the cartoon Asterix of Gaule, his magic potion is his passion for the Montreal Canadiens. How old is he? His close friends will tell you that he’s so old, his back goes out more than he does! He was born when Béliveau lifted the Cup and remembers the days when seeing the Habs winning was not a wish, it was an expectation. For him, writing is a hobby, not a profession. Having moved to beautiful British Columbia in 1992, he started writing mostly in French to keep up his grammar, until non-bilingual BC friends pushed him into starting his own English Blog. His wife will say that he can be stubborn, but she will be the first to recognise that he has great sense of humour. He is always happy to share with you readers his point of views on different topics, and while it is expected that people won’t always agree, respect of opinions and of others is his mission statement.

Comments (5)

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  1. Kristina says:

    I think the player the Canadiens need a little more offense from is Michael Cammalleri. In 26 games, the 6 million dollar man has only mustered 6 goals and zero powerplay goals to boot? That just doesn’t cut it. The guy often seems disinterested and is regularly a defensive liability. I know he has rung the posts too many times this season, but to be on pace for 17 goals is a little pathetic for a player with his scoring ability.

    Consistency is the way to describe Plekanec, at all ends of the ice.

    Underachievement appears to be the way to describe Cammalleri these days.

    • I have always found it unfair that Tomas Plekanec is cast in the role of shutting down the opposition’s top line, playing massive minutes on the penalty-kill, and then expected to put up impressive offensive numbers too.

      I agree with Kristina that Cammalleri is underachieving. “Mr. High and Wide” from last year has turned into “Mr. Go Through the Motions” this season.

  2. Good comment Kristina. While I fully agree that Cammalleri needs to pick up the pace, I feel that without Gomez’ production, the offense goes through Plekanec. In no way do I point the finger at him saying that he’s not doing enough, far from there. I just feel like if Martin was to cut his time playing in a defensive role, he would be that much more effective offensively. :)

  3. Dayes says:

    Pleky is getting the snot beaten out of him by the coaching…It’s called “performance punishment.” *sigh* :-(

    He is our all-around best player and we’re wasting him. And no, I’m not just saying this because he’s my favourite.