Monday, January 19, 2015

Do Unto Others...

Matt Calvert Gets on The Score Sheet
Sorry for a bit of a late post here, but I wanted a bit of time to reflect on the win over the Bruins.  They are who we are chasing now, and they are a mere 13 points ahead of us.  Ugh.  On the positive side, the CBJ take the season series against Boston, 2-0-1, which is a real step forward four our group.  Yes, perhaps Boston is having a bit of a down year, but we're not?  So real progress there.

The best part of it was that we beat Boston at their game.  When the Bruins are at their best, they'll keep you close in a tight, hard fought game, then break your back late in the third period.  Been there.  Seen it done.  It hurts, with Lucic often scoring late on a physical drive to the net.  This time is was the CBJ sticking one in late, on a real nice, very determined play by Cam Atkinson, moving into the slot to make the first shot that solved Rask, but barely.  Calvert got to the tap-in before the Boston defender could get there, then followed up with an empty netter to ice the game.

One of our readers asked me if I thought Head Coach Todd Richards was the right guy to be coach.  I think yes, and here's why.  The injuries have been brutal, and they are not on the Coach's list of responsibilities.  Filling in with the best AHL guy will only take you so far, and when you are using 5 of them, other teams will take advantage of it.  This is the NHL, and they care naught for your weaknesses, they just want to beat you.  But my argument isn't that it's not his fault.

My argument is more about how he managed the lineup in the last two games, a loss and a win.  HCTR assembled the line of Foligno-Johansen-Hartnell and it has been productive for several games.  Then Jarmo reached down to Springfield and pulled up Josh Anderson, a weighty young lad who we hope has a great future in the league.  So for the New York game, Richie tossed Dubinsky into the doghouse for a brutal gaffe in the Montreal game, and demoted him to the fourth line.  He also pushed Wennberg up to the 2nd line, a place he will ultimately play long term, along side Calvert and Atkinson.  That is a very fast line, which is a good thing to roll out against the high flying Rangers.  Anderson went in on a third line that with Dubinsky playing on that line at times, which ended up being pretty stout.  Although that game did not end well for us, Richie did a good job matching personnel to the opponents and we only lost 2-1.  The Rangers laid 5 on Pittsburgh last night, so holding them to 2 whilst having momentary brain cramps isn't so bad.

Against Boston, Richie broke up the successful Johansen-Foligno-Hartnell line, by moving Morin up to the line, and creating a Dubninsky, Hartnell, and Anderson line.  This line caused Boston all kinds of trouble, because it is a very Boston-like line, a good combination of size and skill.  Anderson's speed really helped this line.  Playing the Wennberg-Atkinson-Calvert line again, made enough of a speed match-up problem for Boston that they could not capitalize on the youth of the center (Dubinsky was still on the ice when Atkinson and Calvert did their thing to win the game, however).  This game of course, was a nice win.

So my point is that so long as he is not holding a hand of AHL deuces, Richie does a pretty good job of arranging his line up to create match-up problems for the other team.  I think that's what Jarmo and JD saw when they extended his contract.  So yeah, Richie is the right guy for this group I think.  It's been a tough, and unlucky year for our bunch.  But as they get healthier, they are going to get better, and it will be rough on the other teams to have to play our guys down the stretch.  For what that's worth.


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