HABS OFF-DAY – Galchenyuk vs. Yakupov/Briere Demoted To Fourth LineOct 14th, 2013 | By reusch | Category: Canadiens, Latest News
I think it’s unfair to be comparing Nail Yakupov and Alex Galchenyuk early in only their second NHL season.
So let’s be unfair for a little bit. Yakupov was the number one choice in the 2012 draft. Galchenyuk was number three. Who know’s whether the order might have been reversed if Galchenyuk hadn’t missed almost his entire draft year because of knee surgery.
So here we are, five games into the 2013-2014 season following their lockout shortened first season. Galchenyuk is among the early leaders in the NHL scoring race, Yakupov has failed to score a point . in four games. They went head-to-head in Edmonton Thursday. Galchenyuk ha a goal and assists; Yakupov was next to invisible, Saturday night his new coach Dallas Eakins made him a healthy scratch in the Oilers game against Toronto.
Still, these two players have remarkably similar statistics. Galchenyuk has played in 53 games and totaled 34 points (10g, 24ass), Yakupov in 52 games has 17 goals and 14 assists for 31 points.
There is one startling difference: Galchenyuk is plus 19 while Yakupov is minus-7. That means, even strength, in 53 games Galchenyuk has been on the ice for 26 more goals than Yakupov. Granted they’re playing in different environments but, while Galchenyuk is paying attention to the smaller details of the game, Yakupov has not yet absorbed the message.
After sitting out Saturday’s game in Toronto Yakupov said, “I’m not going to change but maybe play better without the puck, or forecheck more, but I love playing with the puck. I really don’t like skating all the time, and forechecking, and hitting somebody every shift. I don’t think it’s my game.”
With some, even those with star quality, the lessons are hard to learn.
Daniel Brière’s slow start has some questioning Marc Bergevin’s wisdom in signing him to a two year contract.
Brière came into, not only a new system but also a completely different mind-set from the type of hockey he spent six years playing in Philadelphia. The adjustment has been more difficult that anyone thought. He clearly still has the tools to be a productive member of the Canadiens but with only one assist (on an empty net goal) and eleven shots, it’s clear his adjustment has been difficult. At practice Monday, Michel Therrien demoted him to the fourth line with Michael Bournival and Travis Moen.
Early struggles from newcomers aren’t rare. The Boston Bruins sent Tyler Seguin out to Dallas in return for Loui Ericsson. Ericsson, a potential 30-goal scorer, has just one goal to show for his first four games in a Bruin uniform. Vincent Lecavalier has only that goal he scored on a power play against the Canadiens to show for his start in Philadelphia.
So, is it lack of chemistry or poor play? It was obvious to anyone paying attention there was no on-ice communciation with David Desharnais as his centre so Michel Therrien moved three of his centremen around to try to find some spark. For two games Lars Eller played between Briere and Max Pacioretty. Pacioretty and Eller had excellent games Saturday night in Vancouver but despite three shots on goal, Briere seemed to be a passenger again. So, now he’s on the fourth line, looking up. Not what you like to see from a credible NHL veteran but with Gionta’s return and all things considered, where else do you put him?
Michel Therrien’s Newest Lines -
Pacioretty – Eller - Gionta
Galchenyuk – Plekanec - Gallagher
Bourque – Desharnais - Prust
Moen - Bournival - Briere
HALPERN LANDS A JOB
There is always going to be room in the game for a player with the special skilles that Jeff Halpern possesses, even at the age of 37. The Canadiens let him go to free agency on July first for the second time. It was the fourth consecutive year he was allowed to become unrestrricted. This time it took a little longer for a team to realize it was in need of fourth line shutdown centre who could win faceoffs. So long in fact that Halpern had to go to Turku Finland to play and stay in sharp at the beginning of the season. The Phoenix Coyotes finally signed him to a two way contract last week. He’ll help them both on and off the ice in the same way he helped the Canadiens twice and the Rangers and Washington over the last four seasons. UPDATE – Due to a technicality, the Coyotes had to place Halpern on waivers Sunday night. Players that begin the season in Europe must clear waivers if they sign with an NHL club.