Thursday, July 21, 2011
Player Spotlight: Travis Moen
Today we look at an under-appreciated but extremely valuable member of the Montreal Canadiens, Travis Moen.
Many Habs fans have wanted Moen out of town going all the way back to last off-season. They see his $1.5M in cap space as better spent elsewhere, and/or his 29 year old maxed out body better replaced with some young blood who just MIGHT go on to a better career. But the truth is that Moen brings a lot to the team, and today's spotlight will look at just what he does for the Canadiens.
We'll begin with a fun fact: did you know Travis Moen guest starred on an episode of Corner Gas after winning the Stanley Cup as a member of the Anaheim Ducks? See the beginning of the below video, or, for our American readers... Corner Gas is a Canadian sitcom that pokes fun at life in a small Canadian city in the prairies. Moen, being from Saskatchewan himself, brought the Cup by the show in his time with it.
Ok, back to our spotlight. Acting may not be one of Travis's talents, but getting under the skin of the opposition is. In fact, last season, Moen finished second to only Andrei Kostitsyn on the Canadiens in hits with 129. While you finish crying and/or laughing at the fact that Kostitsyn was our hit leader (and it gets worse - tied for third with 110 was Benoit Pouliot; or how about that our hit leader didn't even finish in the Top 75 league-wide), we'll move on to other strengths Moen brings.
Like, for instance, how he was third amongst Habs forwards in blocked shots last season after just Jeff Halpern and Tomas Plekanec. And third (behind the same two) in shorthanded time-on-ice per game. Or how he doubled the fightcard of the second scrappiest Hab, with 8 fighting majors over the course of that season (a 3-3-2 record according to HockeyFights.com).
Long before there was James Wisniewski playing with one eye last year, there was Travis Moen, barely missing a beat despite looking like an actual zombie:
No, Moen isn't a sexy skill type player. But he IS the kind of guy that does all the little things right, on a team where his particular skillset is far from abundant. He's not the quickest of foot, and his offense is limited (career highs of 11 goals and 21 points), but he has proven that he is the type of player you can win championships with.
During the 2006-07 season, as a member of the Anaheim Ducks, his line with Samuel Pahlsson and Rob Niedermayer was the top shutdown trio league-wide come playoff time and were perhaps the biggest reason for the Ducks triumph of the Stanley Cup. Moen was even at his best offensively during that post-season, putting up 7 goals and 12 points in 21 games. While not close to equaling that output, Moen also chipped in a couple of big goals during Montreal's 2009-10 run to the Conference Finals, again showing that he can be a big game player.
A lot of the hatred towards Moen in Montreal has been the insistence of coach's to insert him on a scoring line in a top 6 role. But his misuse is not his fault. Hopefully with a deeper Montreal forward group this year, Moen will appreciated for the strong and gritty third/fourth line game he brings the team. While it is unlikely he'll be re-signed after this final season of his contract, everyone should be appreciative that for every game he was in a Habs jersey, he brought his lunch-pale and went to work, giving his 110%.