Thomas Vanek has had a season to remember, most of which he’d probably like to forget. He started in 2013 at the bottom of the standings with the league-worst Sabres. He was soon traded to the not-much-better New York Islanders before he landed in Montreal, which would become one of the four teams left standing in the NHL playoffs.
It should come as no surprise that Vanek has seen a similar up-and-down trajectory in his short time with the Habs. One minute, he’s part of one of the best lines in hockey. The next, he’s all but in the press box for Thursday’s Game 3 tilt versus the New York Rangers. The only thing we know for sure is that Thomas Vanek is better than we’ve seen so far in the Conference Finals, and coach Michel Therrien will not accept what he’s seen so far.
After a solid series against the Boston Bruins, in which he scored four goals, Thomas Vanek has yet to find his name on the scoresheet against New York. Whether that lack of production is an indication of Vanek sliding offensively (he’s had only one shot in the series, after all) or the team as a whole losing this series badly is up to the coaching staff. It appears, however, that Therrien is content to put some blame on Vanek and demote him for it.
It does seem strange for a team that’s struggled to score in its first two games to slide down a natural scorer like Vanek in favor of someone like Dale Weise. The Habs are down 2-0 because they only scored three goals on Henrik Lundqvist in two games. Forget what they gave up, that’s not going to work. This team needs more offense, not more hits. Even a cold Thomas Vanek offers more offense than the hottest of Dale Weises.
Coach Therrien insists Vanek is not hurt, so we’ll have to take his word for it. In the meantime, the team appears content to keep its top six intact and look to the bottom six for more fuel to what will need to be a major comeback in the Eastern Conference Finals.