The month of January for the Montreal Canadiens
has been, to say the least, a very strange one. The team can have an
atrocious outing one night, with a great one the next and vice versa.
Throughout this up-and-down time, many people have been saying the same thing
over and over, special teams remain strong, as does Cristobal Huet. But
how true is this? We’ll address this issue with a closer look inside the
numbers, as well as our regular look at the Bulldogs and a pair of final
thoughts in an adjusted edition of the HW Recap.
Overall for the season, the team has been
extremely strong on the powerplay, with a 22.8% efficiency rate. In the
last 10 games, where the inconsistency has been at its worst, the Habs have been
firing at almost the same rate, 22.4%. An encouraging stat though, the PP
has scored on 5 of its last 15 opportunities.
Like the powerplay, the PK has also been strong
for the most part of the season. Recently though, they’ve been, well,
pitiful. For the season, the team sits at an 86% success rate. The
last 10 games though? Just 78% (39/50), including allowing 3 goals
shorthanded in 2 of the last 6 games.
If I hear "There’s no doubt about it, Huet is
the real deal" one more time, I swear I’m going to lose it. He is 4-6 in
his last 10 starts, and has been yanked in 2 of his last 8. (And if it
were up to me, he’d have been pulled in a few more as well.) On the
season, his numbers aren’t overly bad, a 2.67 GAA and .921 SV%. Recently
though, they are just awful, a 3.62 GAA and .894 SV% in those last 10 games,
with no sign of the slide stopping soon, as evidenced by Saturday’s horrendous
outing against Toronto. Given that he lost the starter’s role until early
November, and this play of late, there should be no more talk of the Hart and
Vezina trophies as I’ve been hearing and reading for so long.
The Dogs had another strong week, taking both
of their games; their second win of the week pushed them back into 2nd in the
January 26, 2007 – Hamilton 3, San
Hamilton Goals: Milroy (20), Ferland (11),
Shots: 33-22 Hamilton
PP: 3-7 PK:
January 27, 2007 – Hamilton 3, Manitoba
Benoit (6), Kostitsyn (14), D’Agostini (9)
Shots: 39-30 Hamilton
PP: 1-2 PK:
3 Key Notes:
Despite leading the AHL in every important statistical category, Jaroslav Halak
has played less than Yann Danis. I would love to hear why Don Lever
is effectively benching an All-Star.
2) Even though the Bulldogs are 3rd in their conference for goals
scored, Hamilton doesn’t have a top-20 scorer. They do have 3 between 21
and 40 however.
3) Mathieu Biron has not been the offensive catalyst the ‘Dogs were
hoping they were getting. In 21 games, he has just 2 goals, with a whole
single goal coming on the PP.
This week, a thumbs down to the ludicrous
overreaction by fans for things that really didn’t deserve it. The
demotion of Maxim Lapierre sent shockwaves throughout Montreal, despite the fact
that he was wasting cap space when the team wasn’t playing during the break.
Let’s face reality people, he is (for now), an adequate 4th liner who is better
suited playing 20 minutes a game in Hamilton and developing his overall game,
rather than seeing limited action with the Habs. And, let me break it to
you now so you can react accordingly…he will be sent down again,
possibly some time this week with Begin set to return. If possible, let’s
avoid the "What is Bob doing" comments to something that is actually
Also, I just loved reading all the angry comments towards the CBC for them
showing just the retirement ceremony for Ken Dryden and not the Montreal/Ottawa
game. Has anyone stopped to think of a reason why the CBC would avoid that
opportunity (without the inherent anti-Montreal rhetoric that seems to follow)?
Here’s the bare facts: RDS holds the rights to the game (as per their
agreement with the Canadiens organization). They are under no obligation
to willfully relinquish the rights (the full broadcast ones) to the game unless
they choose to. In this case, they didn’t, and that’s their own
prerogative. Personally, I think it’s a very poor decision, but that’s
just me, my opinion doesn’t count to them. Wanting to show something, the
CBC decided to show the ceremony itself, which is what a lot of non-Canadiens or
Senators fans would want to see in the first place, the game is of lesser
importance to them. I’ve been saying for a while now that the CBC should
do more things like this (how many watched the Yzerman ceremony earlier this
month and then turned the channel)? The reality of the situation is this –
your frustrations are misguided, rather than whining to and about the CBC,
direct it to who actually deserves it: RDS and the Canadiens, for entering into
such an agreement that permits this to happen. Good news for some at
least, there is an English channel covering the game, A-Channel Ottawa (formerly
the New RO), which is available in Ontario that I know of…it could be worse.
The discussion of Peter Forsberg potentially
coming to Montreal has gotten many to discussing the nature of the Habs’ cap
situation, with varying results. By my calculations, the Habs currently
have used up $26,759,448.91 in cap space, and with Lapierre currently up, have a
daily cap hit of $232,594.33. As of Sunday, January 28, there are 70 days
left in the regular season. If the roster stays as is, the team’s
projected cap total would become $43,041,052.01, under a $44 million cap system.
Here’s fair warning for you, if you don’t want to see a ridiculous amount of
number crunching, please skip the next paragraph.
Let’s say, hypothetically, the team wants to acquire Peter the banged up.
He has a daily cap hit of $30,748.66. If a team (any team) were to acquire
him on deadline day (Feb. 27), the cap hit would be $1,260,695.06 over that
span. Add that to the current projected number shown above and the Habs
are over the max, so this alleged Kostitsyn and a 1st will not work, so let’s
give that one up, shall we? Without getting needlessly complex, someone
off the NHL roster will have to go for a player of Forsberg’s calibre (or pretty
much anyone else if any deal is made before the trade deadline), and
unfortunately for Sergei Samsonov, he does not have as much value as he purports
back in his native Russia. So, what does this all mean? Simply put,
not a whole heck of a lot other than the fact that if the Habs want to acquire
anyone of significance that can actually help the team out, they’re going to
have move someone off their current roster, so a word to the wise: Alleged
rumours that have the Habs getting quality for picks/prospects cannot be
legit…let this be a lesson learned.
The regular edition of the HW Recap will return on February 5th (the day after
the Super Bowl); the Canadiens grades will encompass that week plus the game vs
Special note: To all readers, please
put your e-mails if you’re sending comments, I will respond to all of them,
including those that have involved the childish name calling for no particular
reason. I would much rather explain my reasoning for an omission rather than being called an idiot and moron because I left out the blatantly obvious.