Montreal Canadiens: Time to End Dale Weise Experiment

Montreal Canadiens forward Dale Weise is a lot of things. He’s a hard worker. He’s deceptively fast. He’s already hit his career high in points (17). And, yes, he’s even a first-liner right now.

All these things, but there’s at least one thing he most certainly is not: Someone who should be on the ice in the final minute when the Habs are in need of a goal. And, yet, on Sunday afternoon, there he was, with the Habs trailing 3-2 against the Arizona Coyotes, in the offensive zone.


No Excuses

Montreal Canadiens forward Dale Weise - (Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports)
Montreal Canadiens forward Dale Weise – (Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports)

Needless to say, Montreal was not able to pull even, embarrassingly falling to one of the worst teams in the league, one day after that team lost 7-2 to one of the not-so-great teams in the league in the Ottawa Senators.

Granted, the loss isn’t solely on Weise’s shoulders. Nor is it on goaltender Dustin Tokarski, despite letting in three odd goals, the second of which was just a hair better than Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier’s gaffe on a shot from center ice against these very same Coyotes last week. And, at this point, being a hair better than the Leafs is essentially being all but bald with one hair remaining.

No, this loss was an entire team effort. It had been several weeks in the making too, dating back to Montreal’s impressive 6-4 victory over the New York Islanders back on January 17, the last time Tokarski was in nets. Afterwards, Montreal turned the net over to a healthy Carey Price who proceeded to allow just three goals over the next four, being named the league’s first star of the week for his efforts.


The Dale Weise Experiment

Despite the four victories by Price, the Islanders victory was the last decent game the team played as a unit. It was also the first of six straight games head coach Michel Therrien opted to move Weise onto the first line.

Now, Weise deserves props in that he did score in that Islanders game. However, he’s only earned a single assist since, with the production of linemates Max Pacioretty and Tomas Plekanec also going south by way of the toilet.


YouTube player


Pacioretty only has two goals, Plekanec a single assist since the Islanders game, when the latter had four and the three together exploded for seven points total.

There’s little denying that Pacioretty’s two goals have both been dramatic and all-important game-winners. However, considering prior to the Islanders game, Pacioretty had been on a six-game goal streak and that he scored 39 last season, one has to seriously wonder the following: Isn’t it more likely Pacioretty’s two game-winners have more to do with him than anything Weise brings to the table?


YouTube player


Isn’t it more likely that Pacioretty scored those two goals in spite of Weise, not because of him? And, finally, isn’t it possible that Pacioretty would have had more goals, at least more scoring chances if someone else were on that line instead?

Yes, Montreal had one good game with Weise on the first line. However, following that game, Montreal’s offense dried up faster than exposed hands in -40-degree weather. It went just as cold too.


Silver Lining

Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price
Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price – (Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports)

Sure, Price might have only allowed three goals over the next four games. However, Montreal scored just seven, less than an average of two. They also got outshot in three of the four and 139-109 in all. And, yet, Weise stayed on that first line because the team was winning.

I mean, why mess with a good thing, right? Even though it’s clearly not that good of a thing… like smoking. It takes the edge off after a hard day’s work right? Where’s the harm?

That’s why this loss to Arizona is a blessing in disguise. Oh, you have to look very, very hard to see through the Ghostface mask… or anything else you can think of that’s more unpleasant than going face to face with a murderous ghoul.

It really is an apt comparison for no other reason than the bad habits were slowly killing Montreal. Instead of waiting for them to set in even more and the other shoe to drop against a divisional rival during a four-point game, Montreal lost to the lowly Coyotes. It could have been worse, in other words (although it didn’t look it at the time). And, now, they can move on, beginning with Weise off the first line.


A Weise Decision

Montreal Canadiens forward Jiri Sekac
Montreal Canadiens forward Jiri Sekac – (Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports)

This isn’t to say Weise is a bad player or that he alone is the reason Montreal’s offense went MIA the last few games. He just belongs on the first line the way a car does in a tree. Sure, you can easily arrange it, but it amounts to a car wreck.

P.A. Parenteau would be the logical successor, were he not injured right now. That leaves Jiri Sekac, who just may end up positively surprising on the top line. It’s about time he got another shot playing with his countrymate, Plekanec, anyway.

Based on data compiled by members of the University of New Brunswick’s faculty of computer science, Sekac has played on a line with Plekanec for a grand total of 26:59 this season. Coincidentally, the other player on that line was Weise. There may be some connection to that low grand total.

Meanwhile the Pacioretty, Plekanec, and Weise line? They played together a total of 80:31. That makes it the seventh most common line of over 20 different forward combinations put together by Therrien this year.

While the takeaway here is the Habs could undeniably use more consistency game to game in terms of linemates, this is one time Therrien had best go back to the drawing board. If not, he’ll find himself going back to the white one in need of a goal or two with less than a minute to go much more often than not from here on out.

38 thoughts on “Montreal Canadiens: Time to End Dale Weise Experiment”

  1. Ryan, my good man the problems of evaluating hockey players is very similar to that of evaluating drug efficacy for example. Each merit can be confounded by demerits, not always transparent. The aim of stat approaches is always to find shortcuts and objectivity. It just has not been successful for the most part as there are too many unknowns and the weighting of each factor relatively speaking is problematic. The enterprise is limited by a major element of randomness and somehow unbiased experience is hard to beat. Like Sam Pollock’s infamous horse sense.

    So no problem in plumbing the potential of stats but until validated repeatedly take it with a grain of salt.

    • That’s the thing, in my eyes the argument that Weise belongs off that first line has been validated time and again. Sure, he got that primary assist on the key Plekanec goal, but that’s one play of many. Following a extremely successful three game stretch, during which he accrued five points, he now only has one point in his last five games. Max Pacioretty may still be producing, but he was producing before that makeshift No. 1 line was put together. Logically speaking, Weise isn’t really adding anything another player with greater offensive skills wouldn’t to a greater degree in his place. It’s more a testament to Pacioretty than him.

      Weise is only effective in an offensive capacity in short spurts and relying on him for any extended period of time in such a role is not only doing the team a disservice but him as well. To me, this has been proven again and again over the last dozen-plus games.

  2. Am in favour of exploring stats but they are a long way from being able to substitute for experience which incorporates the intangibles that differentiate the stat approach from the experiential one. I would warn you that as an academic for 40 years and having covered many areas of clinical science, I have seen a myriad of stat approaches to multifactorial problems.

    • All due respect, I have absolutely no idea why you’re bringing multifactorial problems as they pertain to clinical science into a discussion about how hockey. Please, feel free to explain further, specifically how it relates to the subject at hand.

  3. All stats are flawed, except the ones you like, is that it? What matters is how effective lines are together and it’s early to say. But this line has won games. Putting all your best players on one line , now that is an antiquated concept. I have learned in my 65 years as a Hab fan it is pointless to argue under the circumstances.

    • I wouldn’t say all stats are flawed except the ones I like. I will say that the times are changing and metrics are becoming more advanced and that it’s a continual process en route to hopefully eventual perfection. It’s not like I gave you one stat that illustrated my point out of many that didn’t. I gave you multiple stats in one chart that essentially said the same thing: Weise is not a first-liner.

      I do agree that putting all your best players on one line is not a sure-fire recipe for success. I’ve always been a proponent of spreading the wealth as far as the team’s offense is concerned. I also don’t mind Weise on that line every now and then to spark the offense when nothing is working right. But over a prolonged period of time? He can’t maintain that same level of success. All the stats say that… including that assist of his, which, as I said, was his first point since his two-point effort against Boston. Another interesting stat: Weise’s shooting percentage is 12.7%. Pacioretty’s is 12.2%. Can we conclude that Weise is a more accurate shot than Pacioretty as a result? No, because you have to look at the amount of shots taken and hopefully come to the same conclusion I’ve tried to convey in this piece: He can’t sustain it over time.

      It’s not enough to look at stats individually anymore, but collectively to get the bigger picture. That’s what advanced stats try to do. That’s what plus/minus doesn’t.

  4. It’s quality and especially timing that wins games. You seem to be a quantitator, which applies poorly to a team ranking low in total points but high in wins. Wiese’s plus minus is 4th on the team and good things happen when he is on the ice. The Habs would be mad to trade him now and he fits in well with The Ps.

    • Plus/minus is an outdated and flawed stat. Possession statistics argue that Weise is not a first liner. Please visit to see what I mean.

      I never once said that the Habs should trade Weise. He should just drop down to where he belongs in the lineup.

  5. Don’t you feel silly about your Weise comments? That pass last night was the pass of the year and note how he looked left just before he made it.

    • No, don’t feel especially silly. That pass was his first point in four games. I don’t know of any legitimate first-liners who produce at that pace. While I have to give him credit for a nice assist at a critical juncture of an important game and for playing exceptionally since being promoted, he has eight points in 13 games since that Islanders game. Now, that’s relatively decent production, but, if it’s only coming with him playing way over his head, I’d hate to see how the line produces when he falls back down to earth. I like Weise, but as an above-average fourth-liner and a very good third one. In my opinion, the Habs need to go out and get someone to replace him in that position at the deadline. Montreal needs a great of depth on the right side.

    • Have to admit it myself. His assist on the Pacioretty breakaway goal impressed me especially. However, his 13.20% shooting percentage is higher than Pacioretty’s. I have a hard time believing he’s a more accurate shooter. He’ll likely be unable to sustain this kind of success. That’s why I have little problem with him being on the first line every now and then… but consistently? The offense is going to dry up again.

  6. Among the prospects; who will make it WITH THE HABS and how soon?

    De la rose

    Assuming a few do, and assuming they do in the next 1-3 yrs, who do you move off the current roster to make room and which prospects do you use in a package deal.

    My overall point this this; we are not now where we need to be to really be a Stanley cup contender year after year, but, we are close. Do we continue to develop and build for the next 3 yrs with youth or do we go the “vanek” philosophy come deadline day and hope for the best?

    Personally speaking, I am in favour of packaging a few guys this year or before the draft(eller, pleks, emelin, bourneval, weaver, etc..) and acquiring top end talent up front and on the d line and then filling in with a few of the prospects listed above.

  7. eller vs. dd.

    tiny dd is in front of the net constantly, much bigger eller, not so much.

    dd produced with stone hands linemates in year one(darche/pouliot/moen), eller, not so much.

    Don’t get me wrong, eller is a nice guy, but he doesn’t have the fire or production we need. I would rather use him as bait now, with pleks and one or 2 others to land someone substantial.

    As for eller whining, your point is taken re; galchenyuk, BUT, eller isn’t in the same position as galchenyuk…galchenyuk will be a star, whereas eller is just trying to hang on here….eller’s answer should have been, I will play wherever the team wants me to play and I will be the best I can at it.

  8. Ryan, respectfully, we completely disagree on eller. I don’t see in him any growth, any fire, or any character(whining about not wanting to play wing). I have seen more than enough of a sample size…

    If any center goes in the next 1-2 yrs, in my opinion its eller AND pleks. Why pleks? a few reasons; 1) his age and salary versus where the team is at developmentally, 2) his return value and c) we are not winning a cup with him in the next 2 yrs so the time to deal him is soon before his value starts to diminish. Using pleks in a package could net us a very key piece for the next leg up. In 2 yrs he’s 34, pleks just isn’t part of how I would see this team evolving. If we realistically had a shot at the cup this year or next, I say keep him, but I don’t see it and so I would use him now to maximize the value. Sorry pleks fans…that’s how I see it. That is not to say I see DD as the guy to lead us to the cup, but, at his price, age and production, I say we keep him and put him in a position to really put up pts, and he is capable of quite a bit more. oreilly and pacc with him and it could be the key to seeing him put up 70-80 pts. In this era, that is quite good. Eller will never ever approach these numbers.

    • Lol… you’re not the first person to disagree with me and you won’t be the last. Am just glad you do it respectfully : )

      I think “whining” is a vague term and open to interpretation. Was Galchenyuk whining when he said he would prefer to play wing instead of center?

      I actually think we’re in agreement on something. If I had my way, Plekanec would be traded this year before the deadline when he can still fetch something valuable. I just don’t see it happening as he himself is too valuable to the team right now and a player Therrien trusts in all situations. As such, considering Therrien is in it for the long haul, regardless of how I feel about his coaching abilities, I’m not so sure Plekanec won’t get resigned after next season.

      As for Desharnais, putting him in a position to put up points would in my mind require acquiring another top-six forward, one with size to play with him (whether it’s O’Reilly or whomever;), in which case one might wonder if acquiring a top-six power forward would not just render him obsolete (O’Reilly plays center too, by the way). I agree his production has been good for his contract, but I just think the younger Eller has more upside. (we can go back to disagreeing now : ).

  9. by the way, keep an eye on Daniel Carr…the kid just has it….good skill, heavy shot, great hockey IQ, and loves to muck it up and get into the dirty spaces. He’s the type of character guy that bergy loves. I think Mac Bennett also takes off next year. Dietz will also be in the mix…and brett lerner is having a very good year and is a big nasty type of guy we need.

    its comin…

  10. Ryan, I totally agree Thomas wont make it..

    DD past this contract? I see no reason why not…if he had the PROPER winger with size and grit to go with say him and pacc, or with him and galchenyk, that would work well. I think he’s capable of 75 pts in the right line combo and at 3.5 million, that’s great value. Putting him and pacc with gallagher wasn’t quite the right balance, nor was it with PA, nor with eric cole..and although cole was good with them, he’s not the banger/digger with size that opens space for a guy like dd… you need a sniper, a gritty digger with skill and a passer. Despite DD not being put in the right line combo, he has still produced quite well. and I am not saying dd hasn’t been given good linemates, its just not been optimal where his skills are fully maximized given his size limitation. He NEEDS 2 big wingers to be of most value.

    per tinordi, im not convinced. He cant even dominate in the A….Not that he is expected to put up many points, but 6 pts? really? and +4, and 32 penalty mins is not impressive at all either. In any case, he’s a 5th or 6th, and that’s replaceable so using him in a package to get oreilly is ok by me.

    McCarron? time will tell. He certainly is far better this yr than last, although he’s returning to earth without domi. I’m hoping crisp comes in healthy next year to Hamilton and shows a lot more. We need guys like them.

    Eller? doesn’t have the fire or grit and doesn’t impress me at all. I would rather see hudon as the 3rd center next year with de la rose and maybe sekac or gallagher. I also did not like eller saying he doesn’t want to play wing. That was tres uncool.

    • I was mainly saying i don’t see Desharnais sticking long term because of the centers we already have (Galchenyuk and Eller primarily, and maybe Plekanec if Montreal resigns him after his contract expires next season). Of course, you and I have different opinions of Eller, so our respective long-term projections of the depth chart would differ greatly. While I see Eller as being hugely inconsistent and lacking hockey sense at (many) times, I still have faith he will develop into a second-liner based on his size and the production he’s demonstrated in the past. He’s still pretty young. I think he has time to find himself. It’s not like he’s totally a lost cause. He’s still useful out there, even when he isn’t scoring.

  11. Personally speaking, I would not want to give up ghetto…I would rather try to include lekhonen who is having a tough year. With andrighetto and hudon and lekhonen and reway and Thomas soemthings gotta give…no way we can have more than 2 of those guys in the lineup ALONG with DD. It just wont work in terms of overall balance though the lines. I am PRAYING McCarron and crisp make it, and like tinordi, that’s not a shoe in either.

    I do agree however in part that coaching is an issue…skill guys need to play with skill guys and 4th liners need to play with 4th liners. I would rather see ghetto play with the top 2 lines when he gets his minutes than with 4th liners…remember paccioretty when he was trying to break in? He was 100% right and thankfully he had the guts to say it at the time.

    • I don’t think Thomas is going to make it as anything more than a fourth liner and I’m not sure Desharnais is going to last on this team past his current contract. I’m also not sold on McCarron… don’t think I ever was to be honest. I am still high on Tinordi, just not sure he will pan out on this team specifically.

      I actually do remember Pacioretty’s comments and how they were received at the time. It was hilarious. People calling into radio shows saying how this guy has no heart and all that bs. He never even said anything all that inflammatory, just what no one else would, as you say. Thank God he wasn’t traded in between periods one game soon afterwards (I also think Cammalleri got the shaft for no other reason than for telling the truth).

  12. By the way, lorne daltrop is perfectly correct. Jagr is a band aid. Ryan Oreilly is the guy to go and get. I would use eller, tinordi, emelin and a first. Yes, its a lot to give up, BUT, to get a guy like oreilly, who is precisely what we need, its worth it. I am not sure tinordi will ever make it, emelin has been soso, and in truth, while he can hit, he cant fight and doesn’t hit enough anyhow…and eller just isn’t becoming the player too many thought he would be. We can replace emelin and tinordi with a FA or 2 and the promotion of several defensive prospects.

    • The reason I don’t think Tinordi will make it in Montreal (and the only reason) is because he doesn’t fit into Therrien’s plans. I don’t see him ever earning Therrien’s trust. It’s a shame, because I truly believe Tinordi was playing solid defensive hockey before Bergevin acquired Gonchar and he got sent down.

      If Montreal were truly interested in acquiring Mike Green, that’s whom I envision it would take to get him. Whether or not acquiring Green is a good idea is another discussion altogether, though. For O’Reilly, I think Colorado is looking for Andrighetto and maybe a first. Maybe another piece as well. That’s what I heard. Not sure how accurate it is, though.

  13. It would be a huge move for Therrien to place Sekac on the line with Plakanec and Patch. The 2nd line could be centered by Galchenyuk and have PA and Gallagher on the sides. Or you can have DD center that line and put PA with Eller and Prusty. End up with Malhotra Weise and Andrighetto/De la Rose

    • Don’t know how realistic it is for Galchenyuk to center a line any time in the immediate future as Therrien has stated that he asked Galchenyuk what he preferred and the answer was to play wing right now. Parenteau with Eller and Prust seems like a good move in my mind.

  14. The very fact that weise is on the first line tells you all you need to know about where the habs REALLY are in terms of the teams overall development.

    Price’s outstanding play is covering up several big issues that remain in terms of the teams talent level and overall balance. We are not there yet, and are likely 2-3 yrs away. Eller has to go, parenteau has to go, weaver has to go…we need more scoring, more grit, and much better overall quality defensive depth.

    • It feels like Montreal has been 2-3 years away a few times over the past decade… for example in 2008 and 2010, only to take a step back. What’s different about this time, I feel, is Bergevin. I think he understands what you’re getting at and sees it too.

      I actually have faith in Eller, and I think Parenteau isn’t all bad. Weaver, obviously hasn’t been as good as he was last postseason though. Coaching in my mind is a major issue preventing this team from taking it to the next level. It of course can be argued that Therrien is doing the best he can with what he has to work with. Not so sure I buy into that.

  15. The problem with going after Jagr is he would only be a band-aid, covering a glaring need that’s been obvious for a long time. It takes time to build a consistent winner of course. I’d like to see Bergevin take the plunge and put together a package of players (there are several underachievers) and go after people like Ryan O’Reilly, quality forwards the team can build around. Any of the good teams have foundation players that make up the core for this season and future seasons….

    • I agree. I feel Jagr would be a nice complement for Plekanec, but only for this season. It remains to be seen what it would take to get O’Reilly, but if the price is right, why not? Rumor I heard was Colorado was interested in Andrighetto.

  16. Well it’s clear the Habs are in definite need of a 1st line winger. Last year they went out and got Thomas Vanek at the trade deadline to potentially solve the problem….only it didn’t. He was a bust in the playoffs and wasn’t re-signed. Everything obvious to us, out here among the loyal fan-base is certainly obvious to Bergevin and the other experienced hockey minds in the front-office. The rumour-mill is already boiling with who they will go after before March 2nd this year. The team needs to bolster the defence and the first line needs a winger….otherwise their puck possession stats will rear up and bite them in the playoffs…. In Bergevin we trust…..!!!

    • I think before Bergevin does anything rash the Habs should try out Sekac alongside Plekanec on that first line. Ideally, Sekac isn’t a first-liner, but I don’t believe Plekanec is either.

      My wish list involves acquiring Jagr at the deadline to put together an all Czech line in Sekac on the left, Plekanec in the middle, and Jagr on the right. I think Chris stewart could be invaluable on a line with Pacioretty. If possible, Antoine Vermette could also turn out to be a boon at center for this team and provide defensive awareness for a deep playoff run. That’s only at forward though. Defense is another matter.

      I definitely agree, though… while Bergevin has had his ups and downs (signing Briere, for example), since early last season he’s proven to be a legitimately impressive general manager. I’m prone to trusting him whatever he does in the weeks to come.

  17. Interesting read, I’m a big fan of Weise’s, however I have to agree with your analysis. He’s definitely a team player and plays with a ton of heart, but I don’t think he should be on the first line.

  18. to compare the 2nd goal on tokarski remotely similar to the centre ice goal on bernier is ridiculous!! is was however EXACTLY like the second goal they got on bernier. give your head a shake

    • Thanks for reading.

      You’re right, obviously. The center-ice goal was worse. Of course, I did say the goal Tokarski allowed was a hair better. You’d probably win in a debate on the matter, if you were to argue putting them in the same ball park was unjustified. However, I stand by my hyperbole discussing an especially embarrassing loss for the Habs.

Comments are closed.