SOPEL REPLACES MARA-Shotblocking UpstagesToughness

Apr 12th, 2011 | By | Category: Latest News

Trying to read Jacques Martin’s mind is like trying wrestle with the intellect of the novelist James Joyce..  Both may be brilliant in their own field but one is left spending all of his time trying to read between the lines.

The Canadiens are about embark upon the thirty-third Stanley Cup meeting with the Boston Bruins knowing that, as usual, this will be a speed against toughness matchup.  One would assume that Martin would try to answer with some toughness of his own.

Wrong!

Judging by the last two days of practice, Martin is not in the mood to play Boston’s game.  Paul Mara, one of the two truly tough guys on the team (along with Travis Moen), has been relegated to a fourth defensive pairing in favour of Brent Sopel.  Unless things chance over the next forty-eight hours Sopel will start the series alongside Jaroslav Spacek and Mara will join Yannick Weber in the press box…

Send in the second guessers.

You can get a brain cramp trying to get into the collective head of the Canadiens coaching staff, here is what I think they think.

Sopel is one of the best shot blockers in the NHL and if Carey Price is going to get the same kind of protection that Jaroslav Halak had in last year’s playoffs, that part of the game is going to be one of the keys to whatever success the Canadiens have in this series.

Martin seems to be betting on a Bruins’ reluctance to risk taking penalties.  Their penalty killing isn’t especially good (16th in the league).  And they’ve been particularly bad in that department against the Canadiens who have scored nine times in thirty advantages, which is an extraordinary thirty percent.  The Canadiens power play has outscored Boston’s power play 9-3 over this season’s six games.  That tells me that staying out of the penalty box will be part of the Bruins early game plan.  If the Bruins get behind in the series that may or probably will, change.  And then we’ll likely see Paul Mara.

 

The Practice Lines –

Cammalleri/Plekanec//Kostitsyn

Darche/Gomez/Gionta
Pouliot/Desharnais/White
Moen/Eller/Pyatt

Defense

Gill/Subban

Hamrlik/Wisniewski

Spacek/Sopel

Mara/Weber

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