June 5, 2012; Montreal, QC, Canada; Montreal Canadiens new head coach Michel Therrien is introduced at a press conference at the Bell Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-US PRESSWIRE

Michel Therrien's Lines

We miss hockey very much, even more so with the prospect of a lockout coming our way. So each time us Habs fans get a new bit of news it becomes time to analyse it to death.

Today, we got to see a glimpse at Coach Therrien’s line chart white board in today’s article by David Stubbs in the Montreal Gazette.

From the photo I was able to reconsistute the lines Therrien had on the board.

Pacioretty Desharnais Cole
Eller Plekanec Gionta
Moen Prust Armstrong
Gomez White Gallagher
Geoffrion Galchenyuk Leblanc
Blunden Nokelainen Palushaj
Avtsin Dumont Nattinen
Bournival Holland

Many of the combinations might seem strange but its the first thing people should remember is that this is for pre-season rather than real games. This isn’t necessarily the combinations he’d ice if game 1 was tomorrow. If we’re looking for insights here its in terms of what experiments Therrien is looking to try at camp.

  • First off, Gomez is on the roster. It looks like they intend to have him at training camp and competing for a spot. Therrien is also seeing how he does as a bottom line left winger, which is interesting.
  • The vache sacrée line is kept together. Looks like Therrien, as he’s stated publically, is running with last years top scoring line.
  • Eller-Plekanec-Gionta. Eller hasn’t been at this best on LW, but he didn’t play much there in 2011-12 either. Eller-Plekanec-Cole was a dominant defensive line when it played at the start of last season though. This combines the team’s best three defensive forwards together and might be an interesting idea for the top shutdown line. Losing Eller from the 3rd line would probably lead to weakness there however. Eller is likely playing there to make up for Bourque being out for injury but if this unit does well it might be permanent.
  • The chief grinders are put together with Prust at center. Prust was a C in lower leagues but has largely been a winger in the NHL. If he can take a faceoff and hold the middle of the ice I could see the Habs trying this as a checking/grinding line. They’d get beat on even strength but maybe they are good enough defensively to avoid getting killed.
  • They are also looking at giving White a shot at center. I’d bet they’d like one of him or Prust doing that job in the bottom six. I’d bet Gomez remains in the lineup at plays one of the center spots as well.
  • Gallagher looks high on the depth chart, maybe he’s going to get a real chance off making the team at camp.
  • Galchenyuk starts with AHL/NHL tweeners Leblanc and Geoffrion. Good place to see how much game he has and maybe move him up if he really impresses. Good place for Leblanc to show some stuff as well.
  • Blunden-Nokelainen-Palushaj look like the first line for Hamilton.
  • Likewise for Avtsin-Dumont-Nattinen. AHL top niners playing with each other. Interesting that Nattinen has been more of a winger here and last season in Hamilton.
  • The CHL graduates playing together here just like they might in Hamilton. I think Gallagher would be great with this pair if he doesn’t make the NHL lineup.
Gorges Kaberle
Markov Emelin
Boullion Subban
Tinordi Weber
Beaulieu Diaz
St. Denis Ellis
Thrower Pateryn
  • It looks like the quest for a 2nd pairing is underway, with two potential candidates set to be put through their paces. Markov-Emelin makes a lot of sense on paper but didn’t do so hot to end last year, albeit when neither player was at their top form. Gorges-Kaberle is another that looks like it could work on paper with two players of complimentary skillsets lined up together. I’d think the better of the two gets the second pairing job with the other broken up with its top defenseman being the 1st LD with Subban and its other being the third LD with Diaz. Or Therrien is a crazy man playing favourites by trying to get his pet a chance to play with his best player.
  • The promising new pro left D play with the young NHL right D in Tinordi-Weber and Beaulieu-Diaz. Sensible way to see what they’ve got for future reference.
  • Likewise young Ellis gets partnered with steady St. Denis. That could be an AHL shutdown pairing.
  • Thrower is highly regarded enough to be on the board just after his draft while his team-mate Dietz is off to the side in the undifferentiated prospect group.

Interesting stuff. Now we just need a training camp to watch.

EDIT: Stubbs took down the photo. I think the line board just became an “A Winning Habit” exclusive.

Tags: Michael Therrien Montreal Canadiens Training Camp

  • MathMan

    Not to read too much in that board (Kaberle is not likely to be the first-pairing LD) but it’s interesting to see the sort of thing they are at least looking at. 81-14-21 may be a strong tough-minutes line, but then I’d be inclined to put it at the top of the depth chart.

    Moen-Prust-Armstrong would be a fantastic fourth line. One you could send over the boards in moderately tough minutes and have success. As a third line, it’s underwhelming.

    Gallagher ahead of Leblanc, really? Leblanc is likely going to better than half those bottom-sixers by the end of the year… if he isn’t already.

    Regardless of what one thinks about Gomez he’s a better center than Prust or White. I would feel a lot safer if the third line was Moen-Gomez-Armstrong. Although I wish we had another scorer to put there. Perhaps Bourque could go here when he’s healthy; maybe he keeps his linemates from shooting, but if your center is Scott Gomez that’s not much of a flaw.

    They’re not REALLY seeing Subban as behind Kaberle and Emelin in the depth chart. There’s just no way. I think that maybe Kabs and Subban were swapped.

    Also, “vache sacrée”.

    • Stephan Cooper

      It makes sense to at least try these guys out at wing and center if you think you might need that option later in the year.

      Leblanc is probably in a better position here than Gallagher anyway, he gets Galchenyuk as his center and at pre-season level hockey Geoffrion is a decent LW.

      Basically it looks like this is a lineup to test things out.

      Its encouraging to see Nokelainen treated as an AHLer.

  • The Bear

    Vache sacree? DD is the #1 center. Period. End of story.
    go back to biochemistry dude.

    • Stephan Cooper

      You’re devoting an awful lot of effort to say I’m wrong on this subject.

    • MathMan

      I thought the #1 center would be the best center on the team. That would mean Plekanec.

  • Josh D

    These lines are most like based on a balance of skill/defensive ability/tougness. I don’t think most of these are anywhere near final, but like Stephan reiterated having Leblanc with more skilled players like Galchenyuk is better then White/Gomez.

    • Sir

      I view this board as more of a depth chart than anything, perhaps this picture was no mistake…

      a very convenient depth chart, the two summer acquisition are top 9
      along with the also recently resigned potential UFA Moen. Armstrong
      played some center, so did Prust a while back, everyone is happy as to
      where the coach sees them. That being said I think most fans would be
      surprised if the season were to start without some potential offensive
      element on the third line. Also thrilled about this board are Gallagher,
      Geoffrion, Galchenyuk and Leblanc who now know that the coach sees them
      all as having to outclass only one other player to make the club and
      therefore are one good camp away from winning a spot. Nokalainen has a
      one way deal and needs not worry. I think most defensemen on the board
      can also feel good about themselves seeing this knowing there will be a
      competition open to most for spots on all pairings. Eller can’t be sad
      about this either.
      This is the depth chart that most players would
      want to see going into camp and the fact that this is out should
      facilitate the competitive apsect of the camp, when camp there will be.