Battered Blue Line to Blame for Montreal Canadiens Power Play Woes

Felix SicardCorrespondent INovember 20, 2009

GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 12:  Roman Hamrlik #44 of the Montreal Canadiens during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Arena on November 12, 2009 in Glendale, Arizona. The Canadiens defeated the Coyotes 4-2.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

It's unlikely that Jacques Martin and Bob Gainey wanted to see what their team looked like without power play quarterback Andrei Markov. Unfortunately for Martin and Gainey, Markov has been out since the first game of the season in Toronto.

Although it has been a roller coaster ride for the Canadiens since, Gainey and Martin now have a much clearer picture of their team, particularly at the blue line, without Markov.

Simply put, that picture is not a pretty one.

The Canadiens sit 24th in the league in power play efficiency, with a 15.9% success rate. This stat is in large part due to the absence of Andrei Markov, a lock for 55 plus points when healthy.

The rest of the defensive squad has been unable to to step up to the plate on the offensive side of the puck, with the exception of Marc-Andre Bergeron, who has infused some offense into the power play. 

Besides Bergeron, the Canadiens possess no true offensive defenseman, at least not on the big league club.

Jaroslav Spacek was advertised as Markov's new partner before the season, but has provided virtually no offense at all throughout the first quarter of the schedule.

Spacek seems reluctant to jump up in the play and create an odd man situation. In the rare occasions that he has done so, the result has often been a good scoring chance or a goal.

Roman Hamrlik has been perhaps the Canadiens' most valuable defenseman, and even though he has provided some offense, Hamrlik simply isn't the guy you'd want to lean on to be quarterbacking the man-advantage.

There remains the option of calling up Yannick Weber or P.K. Subban. These two provide interesting possibilities, but it was apparent that Weber would need some more grooming defensively following his stint with the Habs, while Gainey has made it clear that Subban will spend the season in Hamilton.

Bob Gainey needs to somehow bring in an offensive defenseman who can revive the power play. Currently, there is no power play quarterback on the Canadiens' roster, and the ones that are on the farm will remain on the farm.

Looking at his players' performances, it is unlikely that Gainey has many general managers calling him about trades.

If Gainey is unable to bring in an offensive defenseman, there remains only one option to infuse offense into the dormant power play.

That would be to put a forward at the point, such as what Guy Carbonneau did last year, when he juggled Alex Kovalev and Sergei Kostitsyn at the blue line.

Calling up Sergei Kostitsyn could do the trick. The disgruntled winger has been contributing in Hamilton, and he might be the team's only hope in reviving the power play.

If nothing is done, the Canadiens will continue to struggle until Andrei Markov returns, because as of right now, Montreal's battered blue line can't get it done.