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I'd like to see us stick to these lines when White comes back:

Gomez-Plekanec-Bourque

Pacioretty-Desharnais-Cole

Moen-Eller-Kostitsyn

Darche-White-Blunden

For the defense, I'd actually try putting Gill back with Subban for a stint. Hal has been solid recently and he and Subban have worked in the past. Does not give us a proper first D-pairing but we can split the work load more evenly among the D.

Gorges-Emelin

Gill-Subban

Kaberle-Diaz

I would maybe consider Nokelainen over Darche. Otherwise, I like what you have here. The Gomez-Plekanec-Bourque line has been interesting over the past couple of games. I would like to see it continue. Pacioretty-Desharnais-Cole has been our best offensive line this season, and the Moen-Eller-Kostitsyn combination has been a pleasant surprise on some nights.

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I agree with everything you said, and like I've pointed out before, I think any people want or expect him to try and make up for both his contract and last season's performance in one game. It's as if anything less than a 5-game goal-scoring streak coming back from injury is unacceptable. Like you, I feel Scotty's been one of our 203 best forwards since his return and while I don't necessarily think he needs to play 22-24 minutes on the top line, it is imperative that we give him quality linemates (be it using him as a center or as a winger) to 1) make use of his level of play and 2) boost his trade value. It just makes sense.

No it doesn't make sense. His level of play is 0G,6A this year, and under 50pts last year. As for his trade value? This is a joke, right? Put him in the 1st line playing top minutes, and what do guys like Cole or Kostitsyn or Pacioretty, who get banged every night, think? What do Eller and Subban think, when the slightest margin of error, is resulted as benching time. Earn your minutes, earn the respect. You came back from an injury? OK, earn everything back.

I have no problem with his contract. I have a problem firstly with him who traded for him, and secondly with the player, who is not the 1st line center they traded for.

As of late, and because i like justice in my life, there is some life in Gomez's performance. This isn't effective point wise, but there is some urgency in his game. Lets hope he doesn't fall in a slump again...

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Silly argument. If you keep playing Gomez with grinders and restricting his minutes, you're reducing his chances of producing, and anyway, since returning from injury he's been working hard and chipping in with points. Fans kill me sometimes, you expect perfection out of the box and anything less is grounds for repeated punishment. I don't like Scott's contract, and I hated the trade that brought him to Montreal, but he's been injured for most of the year and on just about every team it's a given that your best players don't lose their positions simply because of injury. Since his return, he is playing some of the best hockey I've ever seen him play as a Hab. He's doing all the little things right, he's going to the high-traffic areas, skating on the forecheck like a maniac, competing for the puck. That's only five games since he's been back and regaining your form after a lengthy injury layoff takes time. But fans seem to want to punish him for his contract and for the whole miserable trainwreck of a season which IMO has very little to do with Scott's performance -- he's been injured most of the way but NOT the problem when he's been in the lineup.

Some interest thoughts indeed...

You are assuming that if you keep Gomez, with the best wingers, he has chances of producing and contributing. Right...I don't want to remind you his points totals the last two years, do you? He played with the best, then.

You are assuming that when your best players get injured and come back in the line up they shouldn't lose their positions. Right...The case is though, that Gomez isn't your best player, not even close.

You are assuming that since he returned he does all the little things right and he is becoming a reliable player for us. Right...There are other players in our line up, that do right all the little things like Darche and Blunden. They have more goals than Gomez and their salary is some millions lesser.

Sorry, but i still can't find how is this argument silly...

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No it doesn't make sense. His level of play is 0G,6A this year, and under 50pts last year. As for his trade value? This is a joke, right? Put him in the 1st line playing top minutes, and what do guys like Cole or Kostitsyn or Pacioretty, who get banged every night, think? What do Eller and Subban think, when the slightest margin of error, is resulted as benching time. Earn your minutes, earn the respect. You came back from an injury? OK, earn everything back.

Sure, he's only had 6 assists this year, but keep in mind that he's battled a couple of injuries AND played quite a few of his limited games on the 4th line. I'm not going to argue with you about last years' performance, I fully agree that he under-performed and under-whelmed. But the mistake is to lump last season with this one. If one were to watch the games without knowledge of a player's prior stats or contract, most viewers would probably pick Gomez out as one of the top forwards the past 5-6 games. Some of us are saying that here. The media has been saying it. His teammates and coaches have been saying it. Yet many people are continuing to judge him based on expectations based on his contract and not his absolute worth as a player.

Yes, I would like him to score. It's not acceptable for a guy to earn 7.3M and not pot a single goal. But he's shooting more this season, his creativity is much better, and his puck-carrying and zone entries are second to none on the team. I don't think it's a coincidence that since Gomez has been here, we've put up a better record with him than without him. I also believe a player should earn his ice time, and Gomez did not last season; but he's playing his butt off this year and all we can ask is that he works hard and uses his skillset, and he's doing both of those things. The Pens wouldn't bring Crosby back from injury, play him 10 minutes a game on the 4th line, and tell him he can't go back into the top 6 until he's put up 10 goals. Gomez is no Crosby by any means, but he's been a top 6 player his entire career and his level of play has been in line with that this season. It's not reasonable to expect him to put up points playing with Blunden and Darche, so RC has him on a line where we're using his skill to our advantage and improving the play of two guys (Pleks and Bourque) who haven't looked all that great without him of late.

I have no problem with his contract. I have a problem firstly with him who traded for him, and secondly with the player, who is not the 1st line center they traded for.

Just as an exercise, I'd like you to ask yourself this question: if Gomez was making 600k this season, would you want him on the team? My suspicion is that many of his detractors would be much more forgiving of him and be willing to play him. Many might say he's a bargain at that price. Yes, the trade to bring him here was a terrible one, but the problem really is his contract and not the player himself.

You are assuming that if you keep Gomez, with the best wingers, he has chances of producing and contributing. Right...I don't want to remind you his points totals the last two years, do you? He played with the best, then.

You are assuming that when your best players get injured and come back in the line up they shouldn't lose their positions. Right...The case is though, that Gomez isn't your best player, not even close.

You are assuming that since he returned he does all the little things right and he is becoming a reliable player for us. Right...There are other players in our line up, that do right all the little things like Darche and Blunden. They have more goals than Gomez and their salary is some millions lesser.

The first point I will make about this is that even though Gomez had an awful season as a whole last year, he actually had a couple of decent streaks, particularly when he was paired with Pacman and Gio. When he was paired with Moen, Lapierre, a slumping AK46, or Tom Pyatt, he had zero success. But when he was paired with decent wingers, his production and level of play went up. Again, he didn't have a good year last season, but as I've pointed out time and again, that was partly due to bad line pairings that did not play to his talents as a set-up man. Moen, Pyatt, even Gio all missed a good number of great chances and open nets, and it wasn't until Gomez was paired with a bigger player who could finish that we saw results. In fact, that line was our best line for a decent stretch.

On the second point, no one is arguing Gomez is the best player on the team. But is he one of the 6 most talented? Yes. He's not a scorer, so he depends on the play of others to put up points, but he's a top 6 player and has been at that level in all seasons except 2010-11.

On the last point, yes, a guy like Blunden has done little things right too. I'm happy with Blunden. But it doesn't serve any purpose to compare him to Gomez. Blunden at best is a plugger who hits, fights, and plays defence, maybe chipping in the odd goal. He doesn't have anywhere close to the skillset Gomez has. Gomez's maximum potential is far superior to Blunden's and the skills he brings are better-suited for the top 6. It doesn't mean that just because one guy has a scoring skillset and one a plugger skillset that a guy like Pleks or Gomez or Cole is doing a better job in their role than Blunden necessarily, but they're just not comparable and there's a reason no one has ever offered Darche or Blunden 1st line money.

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Sure, he's only had 6 assists this year, but keep in mind that he's battled a couple of injuries AND played quite a few of his limited games on the 4th line. I'm not going to argue with you about last years' performance, I fully agree that he under-performed and under-whelmed. But the mistake is to lump last season with this one. If one were to watch the games without knowledge of a player's prior stats or contract, most viewers would probably pick Gomez out as one of the top forwards the past 5-6 games. Some of us are saying that here. The media has been saying it. His teammates and coaches have been saying it. Yet many people are continuing to judge him based on expectations based on his contract and not his absolute worth as a player.

Yes, I would like him to score. It's not acceptable for a guy to earn 7.3M and not pot a single goal. But he's shooting more this season, his creativity is much better, and his puck-carrying and zone entries are second to none on the team. I don't think it's a coincidence that since Gomez has been here, we've put up a better record with him than without him. I also believe a player should earn his ice time, and Gomez did not last season; but he's playing his butt off this year and all we can ask is that he works hard and uses his skillset, and he's doing both of those things. The Pens wouldn't bring Crosby back from injury, play him 10 minutes a game on the 4th line, and tell him he can't go back into the top 6 until he's put up 10 goals. Gomez is no Crosby by any means, but he's been a top 6 player his entire career and his level of play has been in line with that this season. It's not reasonable to expect him to put up points playing with Blunden and Darche, so RC has him on a line where we're using his skill to our advantage and improving the play of two guys (Pleks and Bourque) who haven't looked all that great without him of late.

Just as an exercise, I'd like you to ask yourself this question: if Gomez was making 600k this season, would you want him on the team? My suspicion is that many of his detractors would be much more forgiving of him and be willing to play him. Many might say he's a bargain at that price. Yes, the trade to bring him here was a terrible one, but the problem really is his contract and not the player himself.

The first point I will make about this is that even though Gomez had an awful season as a whole last year, he actually had a couple of decent streaks, particularly when he was paired with Pacman and Gio. When he was paired with Moen, Lapierre, a slumping AK46, or Tom Pyatt, he had zero success. But when he was paired with decent wingers, his production and level of play went up. Again, he didn't have a good year last season, but as I've pointed out time and again, that was partly due to bad line pairings that did not play to his talents as a set-up man. Moen, Pyatt, even Gio all missed a good number of great chances and open nets, and it wasn't until Gomez was paired with a bigger player who could finish that we saw results. In fact, that line was our best line for a decent stretch.

On the second point, no one is arguing Gomez is the best player on the team. But is he one of the 6 most talented? Yes. He's not a scorer, so he depends on the play of others to put up points, but he's a top 6 player and has been at that level in all seasons except 2010-11.

On the last point, yes, a guy like Blunden has done little things right too. I'm happy with Blunden. But it doesn't serve any purpose to compare him to Gomez. Blunden at best is a plugger who hits, fights, and plays defence, maybe chipping in the odd goal. He doesn't have anywhere close to the skillset Gomez has. Gomez's maximum potential is far superior to Blunden's and the skills he brings are better-suited for the top 6. It doesn't mean that just because one guy has a scoring skillset and one a plugger skillset that a guy like Pleks or Gomez or Cole is doing a better job in their role than Blunden necessarily, but they're just not comparable and there's a reason no one has ever offered Darche or Blunden 1st line money.

BigTed, i am not going to argue with you either. It is obvious that we have different points of views, both respectable and accepted, i hope. It has been a long time since i gave up on Gomez. Most interesting fact though is, that he has declined in our center depth chart behind Plekanec, Desharnais and Eller. Am i right? So the only spot left is centering the 4th line, and i don't feel he is capable of centering a shut down, energy, gritty, physical punishing line, simply because he hasn't enough size and grit to do so. Not to mention that 4th liners are probably the best penalty killers in a team, an aspect that Gomez lacks in his game.

The only solution for him is to be transfered at the wing. Now this circumstance will result two new problems. You play Gomez top lines wing minutes and its unfair to wingers that play their hearts off every night, just to watch an underperformer (0 goals) take their spot. You play Gomez bottom lines wing minutes and you can kiss goodbye the dream of yours, watching Gomez scoring a goal again. It seems to me that there are no spots in the lineup for him to play.

Bottom line is that he is a 7,3M luxury that we can't and shouldn't afford any more. Another thing is the rediculous theory that we are in a winning track because of him. Why not being in a winning track because we traded away bad luck Cammalleri, or Bourque brought with him the winning aura, or something like this. This could be the case, if he came, after his injury, and lighted up the whole place. He didn't though, and at this time of the season, i am more excited of Blunden's play than Gomez's. Finally answering your question i wouldn't find a potential salary of 600K, as a bargain for Gomez, just because i can't find a spot for him in the lineup.

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BigTed, i am not going to argue with you either. It is obvious that we have different points of views, both respectable and accepted, i hope. It has been a long time since i gave up on Gomez. Most interesting fact though is, that he has declined in our center depth chart behind Plekanec, Desharnais and Eller. Am i right? So the only spot left is centering the 4th line, and i don't feel he is capable of centering a shut down, energy, gritty, physical punishing line, simply because he hasn't enough size and grit to do so. Not to mention that 4th liners are probably the best penalty killers in a team, an aspect that Gomez lacks in his game.

You're perfectly entitled to your opinion, I just want to make sure that you're not down on Gomez because of his salary or because of his performance last season. It's hard to separate those things because they've been ingrained into what we see Gomez as, but if you look at things trying to clear your mind of those other factors, he's really not playing that badly this season.

I completely agree with you that he is and should be behind Pleks, Eller, and DD on the depth chart. But I don't think that means Eller or DD is necessarily a better player than Gomez. As I said, Gomez did great with Pacman and Gio last season; imagine what he could do if given a stretch of games to play with Pacman and Cole. He really hasn't had that chance to play with two wingers of the quality DD has had this season. As far as Eller goes, he has better size and a better shot, but Gomez is a better passer, defensive player, and puck carrier. All in all, Gomez is likely the better center right now, but the team needs to invest in Eller because he's the top 6 center of the future here. Moving Gomez to the wing isn't so much a commentary on Gomez's ability at center as it is the will to keep the younger guys there to develop. I could use the example of guys like Gorges or Emelin being asked to play on the wrong side of the ice; it doesn't mean they're bad players nor any worse than Gill or Kaberle.

The only solution for him is to be transfered at the wing. Now this circumstance will result two new problems. You play Gomez top lines wing minutes and its unfair to wingers that play their hearts off every night, just to watch an underperformer (0 goals) take their spot. You play Gomez bottom lines wing minutes and you can kiss goodbye the dream of yours, watching Gomez scoring a goal again. It seems to me that there are no spots in the lineup for him to play.

I don't see the issue with playing him on the wing. If he was playing badly, I would. But he's playing good hockey and he's getting production out of his linemates. Who would you rather see in the top 6? Moen? Darche? Blunden? AK46? The only one with any kind of a deserving claim would be AK and he has good chemistry with Eller, so I'm ok with Gomez getting that shot. I'd also be ok with Gomez playing with Eller, just not on the 4th line.

Bottom line is that he is a 7,3M luxury that we can't and shouldn't afford any more. Another thing is the rediculous theory that we are in a winning track because of him. Why not being in a winning track because we traded away bad luck Cammalleri, or Bourque brought with him the winning aura, or something like this. This could be the case, if he came, after his injury, and lighted up the whole place. He didn't though, and at this time of the season, i am more excited of Blunden's play than Gomez's. Finally answering your question i wouldn't find a potential salary of 600K, as a bargain for Gomez, just because i can't find a spot for him in the lineup.

I believe you're partly right about Cammy being gone helping us too. But if you look at what Gomez is bringing to our line-up, he's adding things we had big issues with while he was out. And Cammy being gone now doesn't account for why we did better with Gomez than without the past two seasons as well. He's also never been on a team that's missed the playoffs his entire career. Now obviously, it's not all because of Gomez, but the bottom line is that we are a better team with him in the line-up even if he's not putting the puck in the net himself. He adds value in other areas and I think there's too much emphasis being placed on his not scoring rather than on what he is doing right. People are choosing to ignore the good aspects of his game, I think, because they don't want to get past his contract.

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Looking ahead to next year...

Pacioretty-Plekanec-Gionta our perfect first line, Pacioretty is the best winger on the team, and his defensive shortcomings would be balanced by the fact that Plekanec is one of the best defensive forwards in the NHL, and Gionta is also very good. This line would do well with the matchups Plekanec gets, and Plekanec would do well with these guys on his wing. Pacioretty and Bourque are interchangable, but I see Pacioretty as potentially being a 33-37 goal scorer with Plekanec, and Bourque potentially as a 25ish.

Bourque-Eller-Cole - This line would be totally badass, give them the massaging that we've given to the two and a half men line all year and see what happens.

Moen/AK/UFA replacement for either - Desharnais - Leblanc Good third line for us, I'd like Desharnais to take on some PP time (to give Plekanec a rest), and to centre a couple of bigger guys. If we resign either one of AK or Moen, they'd be a good LW, or Palushaj can play there if he has a good camp.

Darche-White-Moen This line will probably be centred by White and finished with a couple grinders. Best case scenario is we deal Moen at the deadline and re sign him to play on our 4th line and pick up some other grinder.

Markov-Gorges - A good default top pairing, but a big question mark as to how Markov will play if he ever returns. If he comes back as the old Markov, then we're golden.

Emelin-Subban - Emelin's been progressing along nicely, and could excel next to Subban. Subban would also benefit from the easier pressure that would come with being off the 1st pairing.

Kaberle-Diaz - Works well as a third pairing, we wouldn't have to hide this pairing at even strength, and Kaberle/Emelin are interchangable based on how well they're playing.

Then a 7th D of either Weber or some random UFA depth guy.

I'm leaving off the potential X-factor of a top 5 pick we could potentially pick up. If we end up getting one of Grigorenko, Yakupov, or Forsberg, maybe we deal Desharnais and have our mystery draft pick play 3rd line centre (depending on how they do in camp).

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Engqvist sent down, Leblanc called up. Yawn. Shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic.

So does this mean Gomez at center again? 4th line probably?

Pacioretty-DD-Cole

Bourque-Plekanec-Leblanc

Kostitsyn-Eller-Blunden

Darche-Gomez-Weber

Once White is back lets put Weber, Darche at the press box, recall Palushaj for the 3rd line and make Blunden-Gomez-Weber our 4th line constantly.

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I'd like to see

Pacman-Pleks-Cole

Bourque-DD-AK46

Gomez-Eller-Leblanc

Darche-White-Blunden

- Best center gets the best wingers.

- DD still gets to play with two big guys with some scoring ability. We'll know then if he can still succeed with other wingers.

- Eller, who's cooled off in terms of chemistry with AK, gets two fresh faces.

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Engqvist sent down, Leblanc called up. Yawn. Shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic.

:lol: Good one.

Yeah, I don't understand the purpose of this move. If anything Enqvist should be given as much NHL time as possible right now. He's 24 and we should probably be determining if we want to resign him next season or cut him loose. I mean, we really haven't seen a whole lot from him at the NHL level. Is he going to be content spending more time in Hamilton? I doubt it.

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:lol: Good one.

Yeah, I don't understand the purpose of this move. If anything Enqvist should be given as much NHL time as possible right now. He's 24 and we should probably be determining if we want to resign him next season or cut him loose. I mean, we really haven't seen a whole lot from him at the NHL level. Is he going to be content spending more time in Hamilton? I doubt it.

I think that he is AHL bond. I would rather try some prospects that we haven't yet seen, like Di Simon and Dumont

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Cole Desharnais Paciorettty

Kostitsyn Plekanec Bourque

Gomez Eller Leblanc

Moen White Palushaj

I think its time to start looking towards next year, give young guys valuable playing time and roll the four lines.. Guys like Darche, Campoli, Gill and maybe even Moen should all be moved at the deadline if theres any interest at all. Also give Budaj 7-10 of the remaning 31 games.

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Since nothing is really working this year, i think its time to split the two and a half men line, which is the only line that produces with consistency. We have to find a way to split production through lines, because we are extremely predictable. Plekanec is our best center and he is obvious declining without decent wingers. Keep some tadems with chemistry intact, and play the top-2 lines a units at the power play. Finally give an end to the half 4th line experiment. Create an energetic line with Gomez centering it. So maybe its time to try this:

Kostitsyn-Plekanec-Cole

Pacioretty-Desharnais-Bourque

Palushaj-Eller-Leblanc

Darche-Gomez-White

At defense its time to split Subban and Gorges. They are the most reliable defenders right now, so we have to keep them apart, if we want to create some stability at the back end. Also we are not taking advantage this year, of the success that the Gill-Subban duo, had last year. I know that Gill is one year older, but paired with Subban the only thing he has to do is receive the clearing pass from Subban and keep his asignment out of play. Two pairings with loads of ice time means that you can protect weak defenders at the bottom pairing. At the powerplay use Eller-Subban at the first wave and Kaberle-Weber at the second. Finally its maybe time for Diaz to eat some hotdogs at the pressbox.

Gorges-Emelin

Gill-Subban

Kaberle-Weber/Diaz

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Wouldn't mind auditioning some trios for next season:

Pacman-Pleks-Cole (can our power forwards play the best checkers?)

Gomez-Eller-AK46 (can Eller play with two offensive forwards?... would also consider substituting Palushaj in here, but ideally this line gets a make-over next season with a draft pick, a new player, or Gio)

Bourque-DD-LL (a potential 3rd line for next season)

Darche-Dumont-White (a potential 4th line for next year)

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