Rooting Against Travis Moen

Whenever Travis Moen scores a goal, the Montreal Canadiens take a step backwards.

Moen scored a beauty of a goal on Sunday night against the Jets. He managed to blow by two Winnipeg defenders and slipped the puck through Ondrej Pavelec’s pads.

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As soon as it happened, I knew the Habs were in trouble.

For some reason, unknown to your truly, Jacques Martin seems to get fooled by Travis Moen more than any other player on his roster. Whenever Moen scores a goal, Martin somehow gets overcome with the impression that the Saskatchewan native has all of a sudden morphed into a dynamic goal scoring power forward.

Thursday’s game against Calgary was a prime example of this. After scoring perhaps the most beautiful goal if his career, Moen was given the chance to play in a top six role. He started on a line with Thomas Plekanec and Erik Cole. Naturally, it didn’t work. Moen simply doesn’t have the legs or the skill to keep up with those two. So what did Jacques Martin do?

He took Pacioretty off the Gomez line and gave Moen the job.

He took Pacioretty, who offensively is miles ahead of Moen, and dropped him to the third line in favor of a career bottom six forward. Again, it didn’t work.

Don’t get me wrong, Travis Moen is a valuable player to this team. He’s a hard working grinder. He won’t put his team in trouble defensively and is very consistent in his effort level. He plays a physical game and has shown a willingness to drop the gloves in defense of a teammate or to give his club a spark.

He is not, in any way however, a top six player. He isn’t payed like one and he wasn’t brought in to be one. Through eight seasons in the NHL, Moen has only once scored more than 10 goals. It’s unfair to him to keep using him in a role he just isn’t suited for.

He was brought to this team because GM Pierre Gauthier saw what he did in Anaheim next to Sammy Pahlsson and Rob Niedermayer and was hoping he could do the same in Montreal.

Why then, does Jacques Martin continuously turn to him to replace injured top six forwards? Why does he turn to Moen when his top two lines aren’t clicking as well as he would like?

Why is Moen the preferred option over guys like Andrei Kostitsyn, a three-time 20-goal scorer, Aaron Palushaj, who was called up specifically because he has shown offensive skills in the AHL, and David Desharnais, who last year provided an offensive spark when the Habs were ravaged by injuries?

What’s even more incomprehensible is that even after the Moen experiment has failed time and time again, Martin keeps throwing him right back into the fire. It failed throughout much of last season, it failed in the playoffs, and it’s failing again. He is given the type of leeway you would expect an accomplished sniper would have. He’s getting the leeway, the ice time and the chances that Erik Cole should be getting.

Unfortunately, the Canadiens last game also wasn’t enough to change Martin’s mind.

According to Dave Stubbs, Moen was once again practicing with Gomez and Gionta this morning. Let’s hope that blue moon doesn’t show up again.

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