By J.D. Lagrange, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

DDweise

The beauty of any sport is that there are always fan favourites and others who we like to dislike. While the liking is often easy to explain, the dislikes are not always as obvious. Fans will use off-ice issues to dislike a player, their effort or the way they play the game on the ice, by antagonizing everyone like Brad Marchand or other similar reasons.

PENTICTON, BC. – But then you have David Desharnais. While most people see him for what he is, a player who has never had anything given to him, someone who has had to prove himself at every level, a legitimate NHLer making $3.5M per season, some in the Canadiens’ fan base simply never liked the guy and it’s been rather obvious for quite some time.

In what I would qualify as rather puzzling, not to use more drastic terms, those fans seem to blame or dislike him for something that is totally out of his control, but rather in the coach’s hands: his utilisation and the line he is centering. Those fans disliked the fact that he was centering the team’s top line when he is clearly not a number one centre (and he’s not paid as one), although his best friend on the team, Max Pacioretty, has been lighting it up with him on his line.

Having said all of that, the purpose of this preface is not so much to try to figure out some of the fan base, but rather to look at what bringing Alex Galchenyuk to centre has done to the team and, at the same time, to Desharnais who was relegated to “third” line duty. And I put “third” in quotations for a reason, as aside from the first line (any line with Pacioretty will be first line), the other three lines have roughly the same amount of ice time and they all contribute on the scoreboard.

This season, Desharnais averages just over 14 minutes of ice time per game, which is a few second per game less than Galchenyuk and about 4½ minutes less than Tomas Plekanec. But look at the production: Not known for his fast starts to the season, Desharnais has 12 points in 14 games so far, on pace for a 70 points season. That’s one point behind team leader Andrei Markov, tied with Plekanec in spite of much less ice time.

Many people question how can that be possible, especially when playing with lesser talented players like Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann, a guy who couldn’t get a contract this summer, having to accept an invitation on a PTO at training camp.

Well friends, it’s quite easy to comprehend. In past years, while not a true number one centre, Desharnais was facing the opposition’s top defensive pairings and their top lines, for being teamed up with Pacioretty, the team’s best forward. Night in and night out, he was having to face the best of each team, like Zdeno Chara, Victor Hedman, John Carlson and Ryan McDonagh just to name a few.

As the third line centre, he rarely has to face those guys, often even facing the opponents’ third defensive pairing. For a guy as quick and talented as Desharnais, who is used to facing much tougher opposition, it makes things a lot easier. While he may not be a real first line centre, he’s certainly not your typical third line centre either. He has tons of offensive skills and he still is the team’s best passer amongst forwards.

Desharnais’ best quality this season is perhaps the fact that he makes his linemates better. Dale Weise already has seven goals in 14 games, on pace for 41 goals! No, he won’t get there but considering that his career best was 29 points, which he achieved last season, it’s very likely that he’ll crush his best season ever. Tomas Fleischmann has 10 points in 14 games so far, on pace for 59-60 points. He has reached 61 pts once in his career with Florida in 2011-12, and his second best season was 51 pts with Caps in 2009-2010. A lot of this start is on Desharnais, whether people want to admit it or not.

In the meantime, going into the match-up against the Islanders, Pacioretty hasn’t scored in his last five games. Don’t be surprised to see Michel Therrien switch things up and put Desharnais back with him to get him going and if he does, instead of blaming Therrien, here’s hoping that fans will have the foresight and knowledge to see that the move is to get the team’s top player to score, and not to place Desharnais in a position where they feel he doesn’t belong.

3 on 3 OT IS WORKING

Over the last few years, a lot of fans had grown tired of the shootout, a skill competition to determine the winner of a team game, and the league has finally decided to try Ken Holland’s suggestion of having a 3-on-3 overtime. How effective is it? Well let’s have a look using the same time frame, after 180 NHL games played, how many games made it to the shootout:

2011-12: 27 games
2012-13: 25 games
2013-14: 24 games
2014-15: 25 games
2015-16: 10 games

Already, this is an amazing result. When you put NHL skills on a NHL ice surface and give them that much ice, just about every rush is a two-on-one. In the game against Ottawa, Max Pacioretty made a bad pass which turned the puck over. The Senators went the other way at 3 on 1 and scored. Had they not, there is a very good chance that the Canadiens would have gone the other way on a breakaway or even two on the goalie! That’s excitement folks!

I had conducted a study a few years ago using the BCHL as an example. In that league, they play five minutes at 4-on-4 and if still tied, they go to five more minutes at 3-on-3. They do not have a shootout. If the game is still tied after those 10 minutes of OT, it is marked as a tie, with each team earning a point. Over a seven years period, only two percent of all games played finished in a tie! In my opinion, this is the format that the NHL should adopt.

Go Habs Go!

SHARE
Previous articleGame Day: Islanders vs Canadiens – Preview, Lines, Goalies, TV, Fantasy
Next articleHeadlines: Pateryn, IceCaps, Cherry, Classic, Byfuglien, McDavid, more

J.D. is a Senior writer for All Habs as well as Associate-Editor for the French version Le Magazine All Habs, while one of three Administrators of the fan forum Les Fantômes du Forum. He has created the handle Habsterix as a fictional character for the sole purpose of the internet. It is based on the cartoon Asterix of Gaule and 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 from his home town of Sherbrooke, Quebec, 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.
||
J.D. est Rédacteur-Adjoint sur Le Magazine All Habs et il est un Rédacteur Principal sur le site anglophone All Habs, tout en étant un des trois Administrateurs du forum de discussion Les Fantômes du Forum. Il a créé le pseudonyme Habstérix comme caractère fictif pour l’internet. Celui-ci est basé sur Astérix de Gaule et sa potion magique est sa passion pour les Canadiens de Montréal. Lorsqu’il est né, Jean Béliveau soulevait la Coupe Stanley et il se rappelle des jours où gagner n’était pas un espoir, mais une attente. Pour lui, écrire est un passe-temps, pas une profession. Ayant déménagé dans la superbe Colombie-Britannique en 1992 en provenance de sa ville natale de Sherbrooke, Québec, il a commencé à écrire en français pour garder sa grammaire, jusqu’à ce que ses amis anglophones ne réussissent à le convaincre d’avoir son blog en anglais. Son épouse vous dira qu’il est têtu, mais elle sera la première à reconnaître son grand sens de l’humour. Il est toujours fier de partager avec vous, lecteurs et lectrices, ses points de vue sur différents sujets, et quoi que les gens ne s’entendent pas toujours sur ceux-ci, le respect des opinions et des autres est son énoncé de mission.

  • V S

    I followed DD from his days in with Cincinnati, in Hamilton and in Montreal. He has made linemates more productive in every league. I was very happy to see him playing without Pacioretty. He has been the reason for Pacioretty’s success and that will become more apparent as the season goes on. I have said before that Erik Cole had his best season playing with DD and now Fleischmann and Weise have become the benefactors of DD’s skill. Both are legitimate 4th liners, but this has become the team’s top line. A coincidence? The DD haters would rather see this team without a francophone and management seems to be obliging. Haven’t bought a Molson product for a lonngg time.

    Now I disregard the fallacy that DD is having a good year because he is not up against the other team’s top defence. When Pacioretty was putting up solid numbers he was on DD’s line. Move DD and MP is very ordinary. In any case, anyone who watches MP on a regular basis knows that he is a soft player who floats and collects garbage – lacks hockey IQ. I’m very surprised that he is considered the team’s “best” forward. By the end of this season maybe Fleischmann or Weise will bear that mantle. As for Eller, it would be nice to see him, Tinordi, McCarron and Tokarski packaged for Eric Staal.

    • 7 muranowska street

      agree in almost every way except for staal. Too old.

      as for mp, he is better than what you say, but its also true that dd made him into more than he is…for 3.5 a yr, DD is unbelievable value. I am an angl and shamed of how anglos have treated him…hypocrites…they dont want the politicization of the team based on language and yet, they are doing the very thing they claim to despise to dd…

      • V S

        Thanks for your support on the language issue. Too many people are afraid to speak out. I really refuse to buy Molson products as my silent protest – they have not walked the talk.

        I would not part with Plekanec, he is a solid two-way player. About Eric Staal, he is 31, has been in the league for more than 11 years, but has appeared in only 43 playoff games, so his body has not taken the pounding of playoff grind. Many people may not like this but I would throw in Pacioretty for his brother, Jordan, a 6′ 4″ centre (cap space notwithstanding). Now this may sound like ancient history, but when the Habs brought in Frank Mahovlich he was 33 years old. The Staal brothers will bring the leadership that has been missing from the team.

        There is something that I have observed over the years and that is the MYSTIQUE of putting on a Habs jersey. It seems to transform ordinary players.

        • 7 muranowska street

          Not interested in either staal. Per pleks, at 33, with his salary, and given where we are and what we need and what we have in the pipeline, I am comfortable using him, eller, tinordi and a draft to get that 1st line right winger we need so badly.

          Pacc aint going anywhere..he’s a very good player, our captain and respected by all. Doesnt matter if he plays a perimiter game so long as we match him with an interior player as the right winger for that line…

          pacc DD ??(eberle, okposo, perry, )
          hudon galchenyuk gallagher
          carr/fleischman mitchell weise
          DSP maccaron flynn

  • 7 muranowska street

    Its really quite simple;

    He has been raked over the coals because of his last name. The constant comparison vs. Eller is now officially over. Finito. done. DD has CRUSHED eller in every single way. No matter who dd is with, he produces. Eller? Not so much.

    The real issue , on this team, given what we have in personel, is that pleks is now being played as the number 1, which forces dd to 3 because galchenyuk HAS to start to learn to play center….but pleks is not a number 1 offensive guy. Pleks is a number 1 defensive guy….which means that pleks should either be on line 3 centering eller and someone as a true 3rd line defensive line, and dd is up at number one with pacc and a winger that we still don’t have for a true #1 line, with galchneyuk properly at the number 2 center spot, for now anyhow.

    Personally, I would like to see us trade eller, gilbert, tinordi and a draft pick or prospect and go and get a true number one line right winger, then promote hudon or maccarron or ghetto or carr or holloway and voila..but keeping dd at #3 and using pleks as a #1 makes no sense….

  • 7 muranowska street

    pleks, eller, tinordi and a draft for getzlaf, or perry.