The Canadiens this past week was one to
remember, although not necessarily for a good thing. The team rallied
around their general manager Bob Gainey, going 3-0 after the tragic announcement
regarding his daughter. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs also had a perfect week,
going 2-0. We’ll also look around the NHL, as well as a closer look at
prospect Oskari Korpikari, plus everything you needed to know and then some
about the Canadiens trade this week, including a final thought on why it’s only
fitting that Patrick Traverse was dealt now, in the recap.
Due to collegiate exams, I had no time to put
together a recap last week, and as such, there are no previous week’s grades to
Cristobal Huet: A-
Saved the team’s bacon when they came out flat to start the game against Tampa
Bay and Pittsburgh.
David Aebischer: B Solid start for him overall, final
goal against Boston a little iffy and could have proven costly.
Andrei Markov: B+ Much better this week, better first
passes, and became much more involved in the offense, something he is capable of
doing much more often.
Sheldon Souray: B Didn’t get undressed by Crosby like
many worried about, no concerns about the recently injured wrist either.
Janne Ninnimaa: B Solid, yet unspectacular game from him
Francis Bouillon: B- Starting to return to the form we’ve
become accustomed to.
Mike Komisarek: B- I’d love to see a stat of how many of
his shots get blocked, I wouldn’t be surprised if he had more of his shots
blocked than actually hit the net.
Craig Rivet: C+ Didn’t do anything wrong, didn’t do
much of anything though.
Mathieu Dandenault: C+ Like Rivet this week, didn’t
hurt nor help, he was just…there.
Saku Koivu: A+ What a week he had, not much else to
say than that.
Maxim Lapierre: A No one could conceivably have expected
him to get a point-per-game since his recall. His high energy is one
thing, but the offence? Wow…
Mark Streit: A Looked really good with Lapierre, very
impressed with the way he’s progressing since being converted to the wing.
Alexander Perezhogin: A- The offensive game was a
focal point this week, only reason this grade isn’t higher was the fact than
nothing went in for him.
Guillaume Latendresse: B Another strong week for him,
next step is to keep up the production from a lower line now with Higgins
returning to the lineup.
Michael Ryder: B Starting to put the biscuit in the
basket again, just imagine if he’d hit the net more often then 1 in 3.
Chris Higgins: B For someone playing his first game in
19 contests, he was very effective and had no problems keeping up with the tempo
of play. Very encouraging sign.
Tomas Plekanec: B His best week of the season, points
in all 3 games, and even got his linemates going…a bit at least.
Sergei Samsonov: B Great game vs Boston, average in
the other two.
Alexei Kovalev: B- Scored a goal (finally), still
looks far too disinterested too often though. At least he put something up
Radek Bonk: B- Decent week, looked a little hesitant
with the full cage on Saturday though.
Mike Johnson: C His worst week as a Hab thus far,
challenging Ryder for worst aim on the team.
Garth Murray: C Decent week overall, but is it too
late for him?
Like their NHL counterparts, the Bulldogs also
had a perfect week, going 2-0, and giving themselves a 7-point cushion on a
North Division playoff spot.
2006 – Hamilton 8, Rochester 4
Hamilton Goals: Stortini (8), Grabovski (8),
Jancevski (2), Biron (4), Kostitsyn 2 (8/9), Ferland (8), Lemieux (1)
Shots: 32-28 Hamilton
PP: 3/4 PK:
16, 2006 – Hamilton 4, Syracuse 1
Hamilton Goals: D’Agostini (7), Locke (7),
Cote (1), Biron (5)
Shots: 34-29 Hamilton
PP: 2/10 PK:
3 Key Notes:
Edmonton Oilers have switched their defenceman on the team, recalling Mathieu
Roy and assigning Jan Hejda to the Bulldogs. Also to note on defence,
Andrew Archer’s return to the lineup has sent Andre Benoit to the press box.
2) W Andrei Kostitsyn has 11 points in his last 4 games.
3) D Mathieu Biron’s 2 goals in his first 2 games with the Bulldogs
trumps the departed Patrick Traverse’s 1 through the whole season.
With contributions from
Jaromir Jagr’s Incentive for
Incentives: If Jagr wins the scoring title, he will trigger a clause
in his contract with the New York Rangers that will add another year to his
current contract, at $8.6M for the 2007/08 season. If he wins the Art Ross, Conn
Smythe or Hart trophies this season, then that clause will also go into affect.
However, if he combines to score 80 or more goals, or 180 or more points over
the current season and next combined, and the Rangers win 2 playoff rounds over
that span, another 1 year extension will go into affect on his contract for the
2008/09 season. Also, if Jagr scored 40 or more goals, and 90 or more points in
the 2007/08 season, along with the Rangers winning at least one round in the
playoffs, then his 1 year contract extension for the 2008/09 season goes into
affect. He also has an “escape” clause, that if none of these extension clauses
are triggered, he is able to earn $1M as a parting gift. It’s unclear if the
Washington Capitals will be on the hook for their part of these extensions.
Boston pick diagnosed with cancer: As if the atmosphere for the
Canadiens/Bruins matchup could not have been more solemn, it was revealed on
Tuesday that Boston’s 1st round pick in the most recent draft, Phil Kessel, was
diagnosed with testicular cancer. Fortunately, it was discovered early
enough to be treated, and the team doctor announced late Saturday that tests
showed no evidence of anything remaining in Kessel’s system. Although
there is no set timetable for his return, Kessel is very confident that he will
return to the lineup at some point this season.
Balsillie withdraws: In a bit of a surprise, the projected new
owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Jim Balsillie, has withdrawn his offer to
purchase the team…for now at least. Reports suggest this was a result of
the league’s insistence on him keeping the team in Pittsburgh, regardless of the
outcome of the Isle of casino bid at http://loginsbobet.fun/. The fact that Balsillie was
present at the Pens/Habs game on Saturday suggests, to me at least, that there
is still some interest on his part in purchasing the team. Speaking of the
casino bid, it is expected that the announcement of who wins the bid will be
announced sometime this week, and could very well be the saving grace of the
franchise (or the straw that broke the camel’s back.)
Quick hits: Mike Kitchen was fired as coach of the St. Louis Blues
this week, and was replaced by Canadiens consultant Andy Murray…the NHL’s
annual holiday roster freeze is in effect from December 19-27, while the World
Junior Championships start on the 26th.
By: Jason Brisebois
This week’s feature prospect is a lesser known
one. Oskari Korpikari, a 22 year old defender and a native of Oulu, Finland.
Drafted by the Canadiens 217th overall in the 2003 draft, many are hoping this
rugged defensemen can crack the lineup some day. Oskari has been playing
with Karpat of the SM-Liiga since 2002, and was part of their championship teams
in 2004 and 2005. Korpikari is known for his strong defensive play.
He is a very safe player, and extremely strong in his own end. He is known
to deal out devastating body checks, and make the long pass. However, do
not mistake Korpikari as an offensive player. It took him until his 4th
season in the SM-Liiga to notch his 1st goal. In fact, he only has 7 points in
five career seasons with Karpat. Offense aside, Korpikari has a strong
upside. He is very solid defensively, and could become a regular. He must
take the next step and move to North America, however if he wants to remain with
Career Regular Season Stats:
Career Playoff Stats:
Next Week’s Report: To be determined.
For each trade the Canadiens make this season,
we’ll take a closer look at it and throw out 3 things you may have not known or
realized about the trade:
Acquired: #34 – D Mathieu Biron from San Jose in exchange for D
3 Key Facts:
1) Biron, unlike Traverse, is an RFA at
year’s end. Both are on two-way deals for the league minimum of $450,000,
so there’s no gain or loss in that regard.
2) It’s not like Biron was high on the Canadiens wish list. Both he
and Traverse were on San Jose waivers in the same time period, and we all know
who the Habs first took.
3) Biron, unlike Traverse, will actually fill a role on the Bulldogs this
season. He will help out the team’s powerplay, as attested by his 18
points with Worcester, whereas Traverse, who saw regular PP time, had just 5
points in his stint with the Bulldogs.
Since the tragic news regarding Laura Gainey,
the Canadiens organization has spoken very highly of the family-like atmosphere
it attempts to employ, and to their credit, they do a very good job of it.
Everyone feels for Bob’s loss, and you can be assured that someone inside the
dressing room led the “Let’s win one for Bob” chant before the Boston game
earlier in the week. The organization as a whole treats each player as
family, and says family is a priority above all, evidenced last year with Mike
Komisarek’s situation to which you all know about already. This leads me
to, interestingly enough, recently dealt defenceman Patrick Traverse. Upon
his acquisition (and the subsequent pickup of Janne Ninnimaa), he requested that
the team try and move him back to Worcester so that he could rejoin his family.
And up until this week, the team was unable/unwilling to oblige his request.
It seems only fitting, that given how the team is doing whatever it can for Bob
Gainey this week, that it also grants Traverse his wish, by accepting a
defenceman they showed they had no interest in before as an acceptable return to
allow him to rejoin his family. There are things more important than life
than hockey, none more important than family, and it is truly nice to see that
time and time again, the Canadiens organization practices what it preaches in