The air conditioning was on full tilt at the RICOH Coliseum on Saturday afternoon, and it seemed to affect the Hamilton Bulldogs, as they put forth one of their worst outings of the season in a 3-0 loss to the Toronto Roadrunners. A crowd of 4,731 fans saw a Bulldog team that seemed like they were just playing for the sake of playing, having clinched the night before, while the Roadrunners came out flying from the start and didn’t let up.
The lineup for today’s game was as follows:
(27)-Alexander Perezhogin-(14)-Tomas Plekanec-(20)-Eero Somervuori
(17)-Marcel Hossa-(46)-Chris Higgins-(18)-Jimmie Olvestad
* (11)-Gordie Dwyer-(25)-Benoit Gratton-(21)-Jonathan Ferland
(38)-Benjamin Carpentier-(41)-Brent Robinson
* (43)-Jean-Phillipe Cote-(55)-Patrick Traverse
(65)-Ron Hainsey-(24)-François Beauchemin
(7)-Phillipe Plante-(23)-Rene Vydareny
This one was over early, as Toronto scored just 37 seconds into the first. A Roadrunner player bumped into the net, pushing it over Jean-François Damphouse, knocking him over in the process while play continued. Mike Bishai centered the puck to a pinching Jamie Wright who roofed it top shelf on Damphousse, who was still trying to regain his footing.
Just 2 minutes later, Jonathan Ferland laid out a Roadrunner player with a vicious high-stick, earning himself a 5 minute major for high sticking. Hamilton manages to kill off the first three minutes of the penalty, before a major defensive blunder by Ron Hainsey allows Chad Hinz to walk in untouched and take the back door feed from Joe Cullen, putting it through the pads of Damphousse.
The Bulldogs seemed to wake up slightly after this goal, registering their first shot of the game at the 10:58 mark of the period, but no more goals were scored for either side. There was no scoring in the 2nd, despite Hamilton outshooting Toronto 10-1 in the period. Don’t let the numbers fool you though, they still played quite poorly, yet they found themselves in a close enough position to make a 3rd period comeback.
But that comeback never occurred, as Toronto sealed it at the 6:12 mark, with Nate DiCasmirro scoring off the rebound from Mikko Luoma’s point shot. Damphousse had no chance on the play, the first save was quite the toughie in itself. After this point, there were just 6 shots on net between the two teams combined, as both teams seemed content just playing out the game in the neutral zone, and getting ready for tomorrow’s rematch.
There were a few bright spots in the game for the Bulldogs, but there were at least twice as many duds. Let’s start the rankings with the goalies:
Damphousse: None of the 3 goals were his fault, he played a fairly solid game, and kept the team in it, despite an obvious lack of effort from most of the skaters in this one. B
Danis: He didn’t play in this one, but that didn’t stop me from getting a read on him in the warmup. From what I gathered, he is a butterfly goalie with a good glove hand. His lateral movement seemed weak, but keep in mind, it was just the warmup. He was also the last Bulldog to leave the ice after the pregame skate. N/A
Plante: Likely the Bulldogs best defenceman in this game, he got the job done in his own end, and did a good job of getting the puck to the net, too bad the forwards couldn’t convert. A-
Vydareny: He still seems lost with the Bulldogs, he’ll make a great defensive play at one point, and the next, he’s coughing the puck up in the neutral zone, leading to a 2-on-1 the other way. Most of his passes seemed to sail wide by a couple of feet too. C+
Beauchemin: In the first period, he had a pair of big hits, but after that, he was a liability rather than an asset. He misread a 2-on-1, and went to check nothing but air, and couldn’t seem to corral a pass all afternoon, although there was a reason for this (keep reading). C
Cote: Another steady, yet unspectacular game for this d-man, he got the job done at both ends of the rink, and was rewarded with some PP time late in the game for his efforts. B
Traverse: Ah, if only he gave as much effort with the Habs last season as he did in this game. He was hustling for most of the game, and consistently made an accurate first pass out of the zone. Sadly, he was extremely soft on the boards like normal, although this didn’t hurt the team surprisingly enough. B
Hainsey: I was not impressed with his outing at all today. He got burned on the powerplay goal, and was on the ice for a second one, but this was the least of his troubles. He couldn’t hit a teammate with a pass often, and when he did, the puck often bounced over his partner’s stick (Beauchemin). He also couldn’t seem to hit the broad side of a barn in this one, often missing the net by 6 feet or more. D
Dwyer: At one point in the game, it seemed as if he was being quintuple-shifted, he always seemed to be on the ice, and that’s not a good thing. He was surprisingly easy to knock off the puck despite his stature, and does not fit in with his assigned offensive role alongside Gratton. This being said, he was one of the better forwards in this one, which likely explains the loss. B-
Plekanec: Tomas played a respectable game, but I, as well as many more in the arena, was expecting a little more. By no means was he a liability, but he wasn’t generating any offensive chances despite being the top centre on the team. He was pretty good in the faceoff circle as well. B-
Hossa: I’m not sure which of Hossa’s traits impressed Montreal management enough to draft him in the first round. Was it his lack of hustle, his softness on the puck, or his inability to discover what the defensive zone looks like? All of these marvelous “skills” were displayed today before his benching in the 3rd period. If only the benching were earlier… F
Olvestad: Couldn’t get much of a read on this player, but I was impressed with what I did see of him. He was quite the skater, leading to some of Hamilton’s few scoring chances, and made a few solid defensive plays as well. B+
Somervuori: Like Plekanec as well as others to come, I was hoping to see a little more out of this player. He made a few nice plays on the PK, but was invisible on the PP. At even strength, he didn’t do much to help the cause, but didn’t do anything to hurt it either. B-
Ferland: His nasty high stick early on in the game seemed to be the killer for Hamilton, as Toronto scored their second goal while he was in the box. After that, his icetime was cut short, but he remained a very physical presence when given some playing time. C+
Gratton: I was unimpressed for the most part by his play today, he showed some adequate two-way play, but was not the gamebreaker his points-per-game average would imply. He also seemed to be soft on the puck in the corners which is unlike him, and he had some difficulties in the faceoff circle as well. C
Perezhogin: Here’s yet another player who left me wanting more. There’s no denying his natural offensive ability, but he didn’t seem to be working hard enough to try to generate any chances. As for his defensive play, it was hard to get a read on, he always seemed to head for the bench after the puck was cleared out of Toronto’s end. C+
Carpentier: As always, he was quite the physical presense, however, this was something that wasn’t really needed in this one. Like some others, he neither helped the cause nor hurt it either. B-
Robinson: His icetime was extremely limited in his AHL debut, but when he was on the ice, he didn’t look out of place. He was adequate in the defensive end, and generated a few offensive chances as well. B
Higgins: Yet another player who I expected more from, Higgins surprisingly had a low amount of playing time in this one, and he didn’t do much with what he was given. He did a good job on the PK, but was invisible on the PP, so much that I was stunned to actually see him on the ice at the end of one of the shifts. C+
Powerplay: The Bulldogs would have been wise to merely decline their opponent’s penalties in this one, they didn’t allow any shorthanded chances, but they didn’t generate a single legitimate chance in the offensive zone in 3 PP opportunities. D
Penalty Kill: Yes, they did allow a goal, but it came on a major penalty, in which they had already killed 3 minutes of. The other opportunities were killed with few chances for Toronto. B+
Team: Overall, this was likely one of the 5 worst performances turned in by the Bulldogs, perhaps they were out celebrating late last night after clinching a postseason birth. Some players played well, but most underachieved in this one. C-
All in all, this was a shoddy performance by the ‘Dogs, who now must rebound quickly, as they have a rematch with the Roadrunners at 5:00 PM tomorrow afternoon. Yann Danis is expected to make his Bulldogs debut in that one.
* Click here for the official gamesheet.