Trades shape high-impact playoff lines

Thomas Vanek has 10 points in his last eight games with the Montreal Canadiens. Eric Bolte/USA TODAY Sports

There are moments in practices, and sometimes in games, where the puck arrives and Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais just aren't ready for it. It’s not that it’s a bad pass or it puts them in a bad spot. Quite the opposite, really. One time against Buffalo, the puck arrived on Pacioretty’s stick, and he had an open net to shoot at. He ended up missing it completely.

“It shows I have to be ready for anything,” Pacioretty said when we chatted.

It’s the realization of playing with Thomas Vanek, a player so talented that playing with him is almost unlike playing with anyone else.

“You never expect that puck -- you should always expect it, but it has surprised me a couple times,” said Canadiens center Desharnais. “Every practice it happens at least once, usually I’m the setup guy. I should be aware he can pass it. It just goes through so many skates and sticks and right on the tape. I just have to get used to it."

Maybe Islanders general manager Garth Snow had it partially right in acquiring Vanek so early in the year. He’s a guy it’s going to take time to get used to playing with, so the more time to make the adjustment, the better.

It’s now starting to click for Vanek and his linemates Pacioretty and Desharnais.