After Guillaume Latendresse was a healthy scratch for a few games in a row in early December, some Canadiens fans wondered if #84 still had a bright future in Montreal.
The pleasant forward, usually smiling, had a hard time understanding what was happening to him and what Carbonneau essentially wanted from him.
“I don't really know what he wants more from me," declared Tenderness. "I did not understand completely our conversations, they did not answer my questions about the reasons of my benching."
“Maybe he expects me to do more offensively. I have to keep trying making plays even if I have lost most of my confidence.“
Latendresse was asked to shoot from the slot. To play physically, and use his big frame. To protect the puck in the corners. To be good defensively, with or without the puck.
Maybe Latendresse lost his true nature along the way? Maybe Carbo and Tender don't get along too well?
After scoring 16 goals in each of his first two seasons with the Canadiens, Latendresse was off to a good start this season. Playing with Alex Tanguay and Saku Koivu, he notched six points in his first five games.
However, when Chris Higgins came back from his groin injury, he took Latendresse's spot immediately. As a result, the 21-year-old forward was downgraded to the third and fourth lines. He also did not see much power play action, which further reduced his offensive production.
"I don't want to make noise," Latendresse stressed. "I need to keep my rage inside when I show up at the rink. If I want to be in a bad mood at home, it's my business."
Carbo recognized that he wished to spark his young forward and get the best out of him when he would be reinserted in the lineup.
After Steve Begin and Maxim Lapierre were healthy scratched earlier this season, they raised they game significantly in the past few games. Carbonneau was simply trying to do the same with youngsters like Sergei Kostitsyn and Guillaume.
When Christopher Higgins went down with an long term injury on December 9, 2008 against the Flames, Latendresse knew he would have the chance to re-enter the Habs' line-up.
In the last six games, he has two goals and one assist, while seeing his ice-time increase. In the past two games, Guillaume has played on average of 16 minutes on a line with grinders Tom Kostopoulos and Maxim Lapierre, which has been by far the Canadiens' best line this weekend.
That, combined with an increase in his power play time, has helped Latendresse get plenty of scoring chances. Tender is finally driving the net and finishing his bodychecks—just what Carbonneau wants from him.
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