First off, we’d like to welcome you to the recap, which replaces our weekly Hamilton Bulldogs report. In this weekly publication, we will still have some Bulldogs coverage, as well as a recap on the Montreal Canadiens. We’ll also have a who’s hot and who’s not segment, as well as the latest headlines around the NHL.
This past week, the Montreal Canadiens found their way out of a 4-game slump, defeating the LA Kings 3-2 on Saturday night. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs continue what is becoming a very ugly slump, losing 4 straight and 10 of 11. Meanwhile, league wide, the first blockbuster on the season, the Mike Danton saga took another turn for the unexpected, and Dick Pound speaks out on the NHL. All this and more in the inaugural edition of the recap.
The beginning of the week was already going to be bad enough, having to face the Ottawa Senators, but it got worse in a hurry. Mike Komisarek left the team to be with his ailing mother, who sadly passed away the next day. To take his place, Ron Hainsey was called up, but he was claimed on re-entry waivers by Columbus. Add to that an injury to Sheldon Souray and Andrei Markov’s suspension, and the Habs had just 5 defencemen dressed – and that included Jean-Phillipe Cote, who made his NHL debut in the 4-0 loss to the Sens. Thursday night in Buffalo, the Habs, with a full roster, were able to jump out to an early 2-0 lead, but a weak goal late in the 3rd let the Sabres get back in it. Buffalo took that momentum and carried into OT, scoring the winner to take it 3-2. On Saturday, it was a different story, as the Habs saved their best for last, taking care of Mathieu Garon and Co by a 3-2 count. Of note, Montreal had 7 rookies dressed for the game.
The Good: Pierre Dagenais finally remembered how to score, potting 3 in the team’s last 2 games. Something must’ve frozen over, and it’s not the ice.
The Bad: The Canadiens are 2nd last in the East in goals scored, and the defence has a lot to do with that. To date through 27 games, the D corps has combined for a total of 8 goals.
The Ugly: Radek Bonk’s goalless streak in the regular season has now hit 41 games, a whole half season. The last time Bonk scored a regular season goal, the Montreal Expos were in Spring Training. Ouch
The Curious: The all-rookie trio of Kostitsyn-Murray-Perezhogin played a combined total of 3 minutes on Saturday night. Murray, making his Canadiens debut, played all of 0 seconds, while Kostitsyn has seen 1:08 of icetime in 2 games.
The Dogs started out bad in losing Ron Hainsey to Columbus, and then got worse as the week went by. A pair of road games in Manitoba saw a 7-2 loss on Tuesday, followed up by a 4-3 shootout loss the next night. Then, in a pair of big divisional games, the offence went kaput, or more accurately, North to Montreal. Friday night saw a 3-1 loss to the Marlies at home, while the second end of the home-and-home saw a 2-1 defeat. Early Sunday saw J-P Cote, Andrei Kostitsyn, and Garth Murray all return to the team.
The Good: Miraculously, the Bulldogs are not miles out of a playoff spot, in fact, they are just 7 points out. The not-so-good? 4th place Syracuse has 5 games in hand.
The Bad: Andrei Kostitsyn has shown some improvement in his offensive game this season, but the defensive game has gone awry. He is a team worst -12 in just 24 games.
The Ugly: The team has lost 4 straight and 10 of 11. Can it get much uglier?
The Curious: Management, despite a shortage of players, opted not to recall either Cory Urquhart or Jimmy Bonneau up to fill out the lineup, yet used that as an excuse for yet another porous outing.
Who’s Hot, Who’s not:
|Emery sets NHL record for best record to start a career, lead the league in goals by a mile, and have 3 of the top-4 scorers.|
|Modano’s starting to play like he did years ago, while Turco’s heating up. And better for them, there hasn’t been a Patrick Traverse sighting yet.|
|3||Tampa Bay Lightning|
|8-1-0-1 in their last 10, St. Louis is healthy, and the ‘O’ is firing on all cylinders. It also helps that their goalie tandem is fully healthy.|
|Lemieux and Crosby have a few bad games, and they go into the tanks. 2 of their 3 goalies cleared waivers this past week, wonder what that says?|
|29||St. Louis Blues|
|Finally, they’re not the worst in the NHL in goals against! That’s gotta count for something. What that is though, I’m not sure.|
|30||Columbus Blue Jackets|
|Over 2 weeks in Columbus for Sergei Fedorov, and still no goals. Brule returns, and goes down again for 6 weeks. On the plus side, Rick Nash is close to returning, but will it even matter?|
Thornton dealt to Sharks:
In a deal that stunned many, GM Mike O’Connell got rid of his star player for some depth guys, Marco Sturm, Wayne Primeau, and Brad Stuart. Boston gets some help on D, but with Glen Murray not 100% and Sergei Samsonov reportedly wanting out, who’s going to score? Meanwhile, Thornton should help rejuvenate a struggling Sharks team, who currently sit 7 points out in the West.
Just when you thought it wouldn’t get stranger…
The Mike Danton saga has taken another turn for the weird. A series of recorded phone call situations show Frost as the target, even though he continues to deny so. Danton has recently requested reconsideration of his sentence, saying that he was promised to be moved to Canada, but has not been as of yet. This just in, David Frost resigns as a certified player agent with the NHLPA, how will this affect the relationship of these 2? Stay tuned.
Pound speaks out:
WADA director (and Canadian) Dick Pound recently came out and stated that as many as 1/3 of NHL players are on some sort of performance enhancers. This elicited reaction nation-wide, but none more than the outspoken Don Cherry, who’s calling for the NHL to take him to court, and make him put his money where his mouth is. Pound, who admits he has no hard evidence, states that in conversation with team doctors and other organizational members, the number could be as high as 80%. In response to this, Gary Bettman issued a letter to Pound, requesting that he provide some proof. The letter was issued a week after the statement, should something be read into this?
Thought of the Week:
With Columbus GM Doug MacLean “stealing” another defenceman from the Habs via waivers (the other being Francois Beauchemin), we have come to this conclusion: Habs GM Bob Gainey will not be sending him the old-fashioned Christmas card this year.
This concludes the inaugural edition of the recap. We’d love to get some feedback on our new article format – anything else you want to see? You can use the feature below to contact us.