Travis Moen: A Waste of Money or Poor Coaching?

If we were to look at the past Stanley Cup winners, we find that their 4th lines were not filled with goons, plugs, or useless hockey players. The Kings 4th liners on their past two Cup teams were guys that produced at key times in the playoffs; guys like Dwight King, Trevor Lewis, Jordan Nolan, Kyle Clifford, Jarett Stoll, and Michael Richards. The Blackhawks have a couple recent Cup victories under their belt as well, their 4th liners were Marcus Kruger, Viktor Stalberg, Brandon Saad, Daniel Carcillo, and Brandon Bollig, while in 2010 they employed John Madden, Ben Eager, Adam Burish, Andrew Laad, and Bryan Bickell. Even the Bruins championship 4th line had the likes of Gregory Campbell, Daniel Paille, Shawn Thornton, and Tyler Seguin. All of these teams had an abundance of talent in their top-nine which forced the likes of Andrew Laad, Michael Richards, and Tyler Seguin down to the 4th line. A few goons were mentioned on these teams but none of them played the full amount of games on route to the Stanley Cup, and none of them had any significance to each respective victory. Line-ups and line combinations in the playoffs are basically non-existent due to many factors such as the opponent, strategy, injuries and the fact of being playoff hockey. The 4th line is rarely played in the playoffs, but due to the nature of the grind to win a Cup, these 5 Championship teams iced their 4th lines regularly to give the top lines proper rest. Every team that has ever been successful in the Stanley Cup playoffs has had tremendous depth which includes a solid 4th line that the coach trusts to play more than 5 shifts per game.

Rob Niedermayer, Samuel Pahlsson and Travis Moen hold the Stanley Cup Photo: Jim McIsaac

Rob Niedermayer, Samuel Pahlsson and Travis Moen hold the Stanley Cup
Photo: Jim McIsaac

Now, on the topic of Travis Moen, he flanked the 3rd line for the Ducks in 2007 on a line with Rob Niedermayer, and Samuel Pahlsson. Moen was used as a regular top-nine forward where he actually thrived. The year 2007 was over 7 years ago, and Moen was 25 years of age. Times have changed. Statistically speaking, Travis’ best season in the NHL was as a member of the Anaheim Ducks in  2006-07 when he netted eleven goals, and twenty-one points. During that same year, the Ducks went on to win the Stanley Cup, and Moen wound up scoring seven goals and twelve points in twenty-one games on route to lifting the trophy over his head. Moen threw thirty-four shots on goal in those playoffs which was two more than the 32 he shot during the 45 season of 2012-13. In 35 playoff games with the Habs since the cup run with the Ducks, Moen has only recorded two goals and two assists. Moen has battled a number of injuries since he became a Montreal Canadien back on July 10th, 2009 after signing a 3-year deal worth $4.5 million. Bergevin re-signed the Stewart Valley, Saskatchewan native to a 4-year deal worth $7.2 million back on June 29, 2012. With two years remaining on his contract, surely Marc Bergevin has been trying to shop Travis Moen, however what is taking so long?

Depth, depth and more depth is Bergevin’s favourite word. CHaracter, CHaracter and more Character is Michel Therrien’s favorite word. The problem is that Travis Moen is both of these things. Even though two young studs like Sekac and Bournival can skate circles around Moen, they continue to sit in the stands while Moen continues to see ice. Through seven games this season, Travis has no points, two penalty minutes, and seven shots on goal. Since these stats basically say that Moen has been utterly invisible thus far, lets take a look at some fancy stats:

5v5 on ice face-offs thus far this season: Total face-offs 50, Offensive zone 22% (11), Defensive zone 44% (22), Neutral zone 34% (17). Rather predictable for a 4th line defensive forward who flanks Manny Malhotra.

5v5 on ice Fenwick per 60 minutes: FF60 30.44, FA60 38.33, FF% 44.3%. For a defensive forward, it’s not uncommon to see a below-50% Fenwick%.

Perhaps the scariest thing about Travis Moen has nothing to do with him at all; it’s how Therrien chooses to deploy him.

5v5 on ice when leading: TOI 14:17, FF60 16.80, FA60 50.41, FF% 25%, Total face-offs 16, Offensive zone 6.2% (1), Defensive zone 56.2% (9), Neutral zone 37.5% (6)

5v5 on ice when trailing:  TOI 17:25,  FF60 48.23, FA60 27.56, FF% 63.3%, Total face-offs 25, Offensive zone 28% (7), Defensive zone 36% (9), Neutral zone 36% (9).

What can’t we crunch from these numbers? Moen plays more often when the Habs are trailing. Moen shoots more than the opposing team when the Habs are trailing. Moen is used as a shut-down forward when the Habs are leading, and used as an energy guy when the Habs are down. So in summary, Therrien gives Moen numerous opportunities to score when the Habs are in need of offense instead of skilled forwards… Great. Remember when Therrien held the torch in the Canadiens home opener and received a hefty ovation? If you find yourself guilty of such a disgusting offense, please go dine on elephant dung.

Underlined in all of Moen’s numbers is the idiot coach who continues to ice him over better players. The argument on whether Travis Moen is worth $1.8 million isn’t much of a debate at all. Considering the market for 4th liners isn’t exactly booming while taking into account the money coming to him over the course of his contract, Moen is a stable 4th liner in the league for at least two more years. Travis does his job well from blocking shots, throwing hits, standing up for teammates, and being reliable defensively, making him a very good depth forward. The problem is that Michel Therrien plays him as if he’s a top-nine forward. Moen has never been a finesse hockey player with great speed and skill; his point totals affirm this. Why Therrien is so dumbfounded to this is totally beyond me and all of Habs nation.

Photo: Montreal Gazette

Photo: Montreal Gazette

Now although Moen is a veteran of over 687 NHL games (Jiri Sekac and Michael Bournival have only 60 NHL games combined) he has a career shooting percentage of 7.5, but put in perspective, last season in 65 games for the Canadiens, Moen’s S% was 3.6 (2 goals on 56 shots) compared to Michael Bournival who shot at 9% over 60 games (7 goals on 78 shots). Just for numbers sake, Jiri Sekac has only played in 6 NHL games and has one goal to his name on 4 shots (25% shooting percentage) but has created numerous scoring chances.

I am not here to rip on Travis Moen; he’s done everything asked of him and he’s done it to the best of his ability. Heck I still remember when Jacques Martin and Randy Cunnyworth put Moen on Plekanec’s wing with Gionta. Good times. Moen isn’t the guy you should be hating on, and considering the bad he does which does not outweigh the good he does, Moen earns a heartfelt applause when he returns to Montreal in a different jersey.

What I’m saying is this: Michel Therrien is a bad coach. He NEVER seems to ice his best line up. His formula is never to tinker with a line up that wins, even though that theory has been destroyed time and time again. Michael Bournival and Jiri Sekac are both leaps and bounds better options than Moen, or even Rene Bourque for that matter. But of course instead of going with sanity, Michel Therrien chooses to side with idiocy. Tonight is Bournival’s season debut for the Canadiens, but he’s replacing Lars Eller… Am I the only one who hates Therrien?

I’ve come around to fancy stats, the media has come around the fancy stats, heck even good coaches (Hitchcock, Babcock and Vigneault) have began to use them, why is Therrien such a stuck up arse? There is zero evidence to support his theories and methods. Sekac is a better option on the 3rd line than 2/3’s of the 3rd line the Habs are apparently icing tonight (Bourque-Prust-Bournival). This is such a struggle to be happy as a Habs fan even with an NHL-best 8-2-0 record, knowing that this isn’t the best the team can be right now. Speed is the identity of Les Glourieux since the holy dynasty began. Bournival has insane speed, and Sekac is basically Max-Pac fast with the same size. Giving guys like Moen and Bourque ice-time over guys like Bournival and Sekac is not only stupid, it puts the team behind the 8-ball before the opening faceoff. How many more years of Therrien?

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3 Responses to Travis Moen: A Waste of Money or Poor Coaching?

  1. Well said as I too am a fan who does not like M/T at all. He has constantly done the craziest of things and he methods of punishing players went out an ERA ago. Players may need messages and Eller’s penalty the other night was beyond stupid but he sat the rest of the game and to ice 2 fourth lines tonite is insane. I hope we do well for Price’s sake but this experiment if successful will only give M/T more dumb ideas and eventually the team will stop listening to him. Isn’t it time for a players only meeting to at least stop the insanity. I do like M/B and most of what he has done but his blind love(french language) for M/T has to stop because we can only get lucky so many times and our Stanley Cup window is opening but it could close soon with the Canadien dollar issues and cap management before we get rid of M/T. He needs to sit in the rafters for a game and see what is wrong with his style of coaching especially the (un)powerful power play. I could go on but my blood pressure will not allow it.

    dra58 October 30, 2014 at 5:51 pm Reply
  2. Good read!
    I guess the answer to your question is “five”… At least, as far as we know it now.
    But if he continues like that, I predict “2,67” 🙂
    Cheers.
    GHG

    Cris October 30, 2014 at 8:04 pm Reply
  3. Thanks for reading dudes! You guys know what’s up that’s for sure! Enjoy the game tonight!

    Colton Di Stefano October 30, 2014 at 8:45 pm Reply

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