Oh, Montreal Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien joked about it, but one has to believe agent Allan Walsh’s defiant tweet affected the decision to reinsert P.A. Parenteau into the lineup against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday (7:30 pm Eastern)… Just not in the way one might think.
Montreal is goal starved and PA Parenteau with 196 pts over the previous 4 NHL seasons is a healthy scratch.
— Allan Walsh (@walsha) March 11, 2015
Said Therrien, via Sportsnet, and presumably kidding: “We saw the tweet from his agent and that made us think seriously about bringing him back to the lineup.”
Another Canadiens Line Change
Now, obviously head coaches have a hard time being told what to do by their players, let alone their players’ agents. As a result, it’s fair to assume the Habs, who have indeed only scored six goals in their last five games, were on the verge of making a change on their own.
Bank on the timing of Walsh’s tweet (March 10, the night of the Habs’ most recent game, a shutout at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning) being just a coincidence. Therrien was most certainly going to put Parenteau back in the lineup anyway, had Walsh not taken the initiative to publically air his client’s frustration.
Walsh’s tweet could very well have backfired and given Therrien, as a proud individual, pause to ponder his options. Parenteau hasn’t exactly been an offensive dynamo this year with six goals and 15 points in 41 games (but a league-leading four game-deciding goals in the shootout).
So, Walsh’s tweet likely affected Therrien the same way the revelation that a psycho significant other has a history of slashing tires does the choice to break up with them. It made an easy decision a lot harder.
Would continuing to scratch Parenteau have been the worst option? Just to save face and prevent a possible precedent from being set? Probably not, but for a team that insists on persistently giving grinder Dale Weise first-line minutes, all the advice in the world on how to put together a half-decent lineup probably couldn’t hurt.
Again, Therrien is likely not taking Walsh’s suggestion to heart. He’s dressing his client in spite of that advice. Not only that, he’s reportedly starting him off in a top-six role on the second line with Tomas Plekanec and Alex Galchenyuk. About the only assignment that’s more plum? Deciding which goalie to start in the playoffs.
Bad Parenteau -ing
So, now Parenteau gets his shot. While Therrien has stated that there’s no pressure on Parenteau to score, let’s get real. A healthy scratch in five of the last six games, Parenteau has most recently been sat in favor of recently acquired former-Buffalo Sabres Torrey Mitchell and Brian Flynn.
That’s perhaps a statement to Parenteau right there, as they are fourth-liners on pretty much any team in the league… except, of course, maybe the Sabres, for which Flynn scored more points (17) than Parenteau this year.
That meanwhile is a statement which in turn says a lot about Parenteau’s struggles, particularly since the Sabres are essentially last in every offensive NHL category known to man… except maybe goals scored against the Canadiens this year.
The bottom line is Parenteau has to make good on this opportunity, not just for his sake, but the team’s these upcoming playoffs. Because this move enables Brendan Gallagher, the closest thing to a first-line right-winger this team has, to move from the Plekanec line back with David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty.
General manager Marc Bergevin made a mistake getting defenseman Jeff Petry and not much else at the trade deadline. So, Parenteau is all the Habs have at this point to provide a boost to a pop-gun offense. Sure, they’ve been getting by fine with Carey Price in between the pipes for now, but there is little denying every little bit helps, whether it’s on offense or Therrien taking a hit to his pride for the greater good.
Let the record show Therrien made the hard, but right decision here. He deserves credit for that. Granted, he’s not exactly known for doing things the easy way, with this team consistently getting outshot, outchanced, and off to bad starts. But, looking at the team’s 42-18-7 record, he is known for his best possible outcomes. Here’s to yet another, as far as Parenteau on the team’s second line is concerned.
After 10 years of writing hockey, Ryan decided it was as good a time as any to actually join The Hockey Writers for the 2014-15 season. Having appeared as a guest on such programs as CBC Radio One’s Daybreak, Ryan has written for such publications as the Montreal Gazette and Bleacher Report and worked for the NHL itself and his hometown Montreal Canadiens. He currently covers the Habs for THW as a columnist.