I've got to start this off with the most important thing that happened tonight: I called that Hoffman goal. It may not be impressive since he is our leading goal scorer, but hey, if it was so obvious why didn't Cameron move him up from the fourth line earlier? Like maybe before we were down 3-0 in the series? I digress.
I could not be happier with the way this game panned out. Cameron waits until it's half a period into an elimination game to finally move up Hoffman, and he comes through THAT GAME. That is a statement. And to be honest, it really proves how stupid Cameron has been. Cameron has redeeming qualities, but I will never forgive him for waiting this long to take Hoffman off the fourth line.
Part way through the first period the Hoff was put back into his rightful place in the top six next to Zibanejad and Bobby Ryan. Michalek was bumped down to the fourth next to Smith and Neil. There was an immediate impact. All of a sudden, the Sens controlled the game. Turris line skates out, dominates as always. Hoffman line skates out, dominates. Pageau line skates out, dominates. Smith line..uh..well they only played about 10 mins. The point is, we need that second line going if we want to win games. We can't alternate between the Turris line controlling the game, the Zib line getting outplayed, the Pageau line controlling, and nothing from the fourth. This is the line up that got us to the playoffs. This is a team that in nearly unbeatable. And the fact that Hoffmans presence in the top six made all the difference goes to show just how good he is.
I don't know. I've watched every game this season, and Hoffman has looked this good all year, but it seems like Cameron is ignoring it, like he has something against him. It's so frustrating. He has proved himself in undeniable ways. All you have to do is watch the games, and Cameron doesn't have a choice, he's standing behind the bench every game - so what is he looking at?! Hoffman is a star. He skates like Karlsson and is one of the best puck handlers I've ever seen. Call me crazy, but I still won't be happy until he gets a shot on the first line. Give me one good reason why he doesn't deserve that opportunity. And give me one good reason why you'd think he wouldn't score even more.
If Hoffman was playing top line minutes all year he would have easily broken 30 goals. I'd bet 35 - at least. And you know what? He looks frustrated with his ice time, and you can't blame him. I just hope he doesn't take his first opportunity to ditch the Sens for a team that can appreciate that ability, because he can be a superstar. He will be a superstar, mark my words.
Speaking of marking my words, did I mention I predicted that Hoffman would score if he was put into the top 6? Just reminding you. Man that is satisfying. I was wearing my Hoffman t-shirt under my Karlsson jersey. I almost put the Hoffman shirt over the Karlsson jersey because I was so full of pride.
Now, changing the topic a bit. Only a bit. Let's talk ice-time.
I'm afraid Cameron is overplaying Mark Stone, especially because of that wrist injury. Stone had an amazing game, I was saying it all night, but he might be preferring pass to shoot. He did have 3 shots, but I feel like this is the time to take a little pressure off him, not play him more than any other forward.
Heres the forwards ice-time in order, curtis-y of LazarBeam:
This is where I ask again: Is Cameron even watching the game? Ryan has been a liability. I love him, he's played pretty well lately, but he is far from what we have come to expect of him, and he has gone a 12th game without a goal, giving him one goal in his last 23. Like, I just don't know what to do besides write angry blogs about it at this point. He's gotta be injured, but really, either way, how is he playing more than Zibanejad and Hoffman?? I get the feeling because of his reputation and salary Cameron will not put him on the fourth line. I could talk about Hoffman all day, but Zibanejad looked great once again tonight and deserves more minutes as is, and definitely more minutes than Ryan.
Stone looked tired this game, and now looking at his TOI it makes perfect sense. This game was as intense as they get, and while injured he was asked to play 22 minutes, over 2 minutes more than the next guy. I really don't know how Cameron can defend his choices.
Condra looked amazing all game, and that is a testament to the poor player evaluation skills of Paul Maclean. As well, 19+ mins is getting crazy when you're playing Hoffman and Zibanejad under 14 mins. Play your best players the most, but there were a handful of players, including Condra, that were probably overplayed.
I am happy Lazar is getting an increase in minutes. He was flying all night, and can destroy guys with huge body checks. And he has a pretty good offensive upside, and is just a winner. I'd say 15 mins is just right.
I'm as big a Pageau fan as they come, but I could stand to see more balance in ice time through out the line up. Pageau had a hell of a game, but theres no need to play him so much more than Hoffman and Zibanejad. Alright, it's enough with the complaining about Hoffman and Zibanejads ice time, but really, this team could be improved.
I'd also like to see Chiasson draw back in for Neil. And then play on the second line with Ryan on the fourth. Not that Chiasson on the second is such a shoe in, but Ryan isn't really contributing much. I feel bad for the guy, he must be injured, cut him some slack and minimize his role until he can get himself together. Chiasson looked great when he was played in the top six, I don't know why Cameron chooses to have a short memory. And clearly there is something with French players playing against Montreal, so what's taking so long?
I'm not saying the Sens should do everything I say, but if we wanted to put out the best line up that this system can offer I think it'd look like this:
I must be crazy. Actually I'm pretty sure this would give us too many NHL contracts or something but hey put Legwand and Neil on waivers for all I care. And Gryba.
That ranting really made me feel better. What a game. Thanks for anyone who made it this far! GO SENS GO Let me know what you think in the comments section!
LazarBeam, signing off.