May 26 2008 09:44AM
"It's not that we didn't want Gary Roberts in our lineup, those guys we had (in the lineup) before the final did a fantastic job and got a reward. It's about rewarding players." —Pittsburgh Head Coach Michel Therrien, after Game 1 of the SCF.
We can’t figure out for the life of us why Therrien would pull Gary Roberts prior to the start of the series. It’s Gary Roberts, Michel.
You’re staring down a team like Detroit, where basically every single player has over 1,000 career games in the NHL and at least a ring per finger. Your squad is obviously long on runners and gunners and short on wily old veterans like Gary Roberts. It’s not about “rewarding players” at this stage of things, Therrien. It’s about throwing Gary Roberts over the boards with Hossa and having Roberts say “Take a puck to the face if it means we clear the zone.”
Now clearly at this point Hossa will pretend that he doesn’t speak English as well as everyone thought, but the point was at least made. You need a guy like Gary Roberts, with 125 career playoff games, hauling his old Gary Roberts-shaped carcass over the boards and showing the kids there is nothing to fear but losing in the finals and never getting another chance.
Why ice Laraque over Roberts? Who exactly is Laraque going to scare on the Wings? Is he going to fight Zetterberg? Is he going to nail Filppula to the wall? We love le double G, but there isn’t much of anything we can think of that Gary Roberts doesn’t bring to the SCF. And to show you that we know how to work the YouTubes, you can check out the fight where Philly’s Ben Eager tried to give Laraque an elbow to the grill and Roberts taught him what old-man strength is all about. This guy is leadership, this guy is tough and will make the most of whatever ice time he gets.
Holy hell, Michel, get it together. You’re being out-coached right now, and if you gas this series we’re going to send you a bill for the bet we made.