Friday, May 21, 2010

Habs Lapierre can be a real pain when he plays smart


The Montreal Canadiens Maxim Lapierre has been a genuine thorn in the side of the Philadelphia Flyers and other playoff opposition in 2010.

To me, Maxim Lapierre has always been the player on the Canadiens roster that has the potential to set the emotional tone of a game. He’s the pesky forward that can draw that advantageous penalty or just frustrate to the point the opponent loses focus on the game plan.

He doesn’t have the shooting skill of a Mike Cammalleri, or stick handling ability of a Brian Gionta, but he does bring the aspects of a solid third line player.

His exceptional speed, ability to deliver a hit and occasional scoring touch (15 goals in 2008-09) is often overlooked by his best talent, chirping the crap out of the opposition. In this year’s playoffs, he’s brought all of that to the table.

Game Three of the Eastern Conference Final against the Philadelphia Flyers was no exception. Granted he’ll never drop the gloves, to the frustration of many, but he can sure get under one’s skin when he needs to. But that’s just what a pest does, ask Dan Carcillo.


I first noticed Lapierre’s knack of annoyance while attending a Canadiens/Senators game in March of 2007. There was this rookie getting right in the face of Ray Emery. Still green, he spent the early part of the next season in Hamilton to work on his discipline. It paid off, and he’s been with the Canadiens ever since.

Lapierre’s  one flaw that often exposes him, is getting careless or taking it that one step beyond that usually draws a penalty against him at a bad time in the game.

Lapierre has clearly gained a bit of a reputation of a shit-disturber in his short NHL career. The referees know it, and they are watching him.

His infamous boarding hit on the Sharks’ Scott Nichol, and two arguable diving calls, in one playoff game against the Washington Capitals, are the most recent infractions of notoriety fuelled by his reputation.

Fortunately Lapierre is one of those learning players that can make adjustments to his style without sacrificing much. It’s evident with the fact he has stayed in the 60-80 PIM range in the last few seasons. The discipline is there, it’s just the timing that needs tweaking.

That aside, he has played some of the best defensive hockey of his career this season. If he can continue to curb his mental errors, and  compete and irritate at the level seen in recent weeks, the Canadiens could have a very solid third liner for years to come.

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