The week for the Montreal Canadiens can be
summed up by the following unofficial stat that shows the team had more line
combinations than scoring chances. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs are the exact
opposite of the Habs, winning 3 of 4 and solidifying 2nd in their division.
Our closer look feature analyzes Johan Eneqvist, while we’ll attempt to delve
into the minds of the Canadiens braintrust in a new segment, plus a final
thought on the Sergei Samsonov situation, in the recap.
Previous week’s grades in parentheses.
This set does not include the Sunday game vs Pittsburgh, as that was included in
the last article.
Cristobal Huet: B- First goal was shaky, but he held
the team in the game longer than they deserved to be. (D-)
David Aebischer: B- Strong game vs the Canes, not so
strong vs the Sens, the goaltending situation is now more confusing than it’s
been all season. (B+)
Andrei Markov: B Decent game on Saturday, particularly
when he’s not 100%. (C)
Mike Komisarek: B- Finally saw the physical play with
more regularity, particularly vs Neil of the Sens.
Francis Bouillon: B- Taking shots generally only works if
they actually get to the net. (B)
Mathieu Dandenault: B- Nothing great, but steady, typical
of Dandenault. (B)
Sheldon Souray: C+ Boy, when he goes cold, so goes the
Craig Rivet: C His one game left a fair bit to be
desired, grade would be lower if he wasn’t sick. (B-)
Janne Ninnimaa: C It was nice to have the extra defensive
body around, would’ve been nice had he done something remotely productive.
Steve Begin: A
Provided some energy and even got a goal, something he didn’t do at the
Tomas Plekanec: A- Last 6 weeks the best of his career,
one of the top Habs yet again this go-round.
Radek Bonk: B Offensive game went dry, kept up his strong
defensive play though. (A)
Mark Streit: B Versatility continues to be his greatest
Maxim Lapierre: B- Not hurting the team while getting
some valuable experience and important minutes. (B+)
Chris Higgins: B- Execution still sorely lacking,
but he did some good things overall this week. (C)
Mike Johnson: B- Seemed to forget the puck while he was
skating at least twice a game. (B)
Alexei Kovalev: B- The timing of his benching
surprised me on Saturday, he wasn’t having too bad a game compared to some
earlier in the season. (B-)
Sergei Samsonov: C+ His return game left some things to
be desired. (B)
Garth Murray: C+ Seemed to play better as his playing
time and role increased.
Alexander Perezhogin: C+ Adequate, but that’s not going
to be enough to get him out of the doghouse.
Saku Koivu: C Took a few surprisingly lazy penalties, is
lacking the energy he generally has. An extra day off here and there I
think would work wonders for him. (C)
Guillaume Latendresse: C Another overly quiet week,
another one who appears to be lacking some jump. (C)
Aaron Downey: C His toughness wasn’t overly required this
week, seemed to be a waste of his limited talents. (C)
Michael Ryder: D-
His lone goal was the saving grace from an F. (C-)
The Dogs had another strong week, winning 3 of
4, and have now earned points in their last 10 games.
February 7, 2007 – Chicago 4, Hamilton
Hamilton Goals: Ferland 2 (12/13),
Shots: 33-31 Chicago
PP: 1-5 PK:
February 9, 2007 – Hamilton 6, Chicago
Cote (3), D’Agostini 2 (11/12), Kostitsyn 2 (17/18), Locke (12)
Shots: 31-29 Chicago
PP: 3-7 PK:
February 10, 2007 – Hamilton 4,
Kostitsyn (19), Chipchura (8), Lemieux (3), Urquhart (1)
Shots: 33-23 Hamilton
PP: 0-5 PK:
February 11, 2007 – Hamilton 9,
Urquhart (2), Lemieux (4), Kostitsyn (20), Locke 2 (13/14), Milroy (22), Ferland
2 (14/15), Baines (9)
Shots: 40-29 Hamilton
PP: 4-7 PK:
3 Key Notes:
February is Andrei Kostitsyn’s month; he has 6 goals and 6 assists in 6 games
so far, and has now surpassed last season’s offensive totals.
2) Cory Urquhart was recalled this week, and he sent notice to the
Habs’ brass that he’s not off the radar just yet, as he totalled a pair of goals
and 4 assists.
3) Jaroslav Halak’s season numbers are certainly strong, but he
hasn’t exactly been that recently, allowing 30 goals in his last 11 games.
Over the last few days, there seemed to be a
surprisingly large debate about who should be sent down when Steve Begin
returned. The illness to Craig Rivet has only delayed the seemingly
inevitable, either Garth Murray or Maxim Lapierre will have to be demoted sooner
than later. The following are debates that the Canadiens braintrust will
have to go through to reach the decision:
Salary Cap: In terms of the cap, there
is hardly a difference between the 2; Murray makes $17,667 more than Lapierre at
the NHL level, a daily difference of less than $100. In terms of actual
money, demoting Lapierre would save more, as he is on a two-way contract, unlike
Short-term gains: There’s no denying
that Lapierre has outplayed Murray, how big a factor could that be?
Long-term gains: If Murray goes down,
the Habs risk losing him to recall waivers, which carries a cap hit of $300,000
for next season.
The Pine factor: Is it worth keeping
Lapierre up if ultimately he’ll be benched in favour of players that the team
needs to play to raise their trade value? Unlike Murray, Lapierre would be
better suited playing in Hamilton rather than sitting in the press box.
Trading: Lapierre: 99%
chance he won’t be moved. Murray: He cleared waivers, so not
much interest there, if he were to be moved, the Habs would likely have to take
someone back, nullifying really the point of moving him. Perezhogin:
Could easily be moved for a pick, allowing both to stay up, but have the Habs
fully given up on him? Or, is he part of a bigger potential deal; is it
worth moving him now to solve this issue? Downey: Easily
could go based on talent, but the intangibles he brings make it hard(er) to lose
him. Ninnimaa: Easily could be waived and demoted, but
given Rivet’s illness and Markov’s knee, he needs to stay with the club as an
Final Assessment: Ultimately, as I’ve
said before, it will likely be Lapierre who in the end goes down, as the
collective risks associated with Murray makes it less appealing to move him
(that potential cap hit could be costly.) It’s also not really worth
making a quick roster dump when it may be better anyway to get Lapierre back
playing a more offensive role, even if it is only for a few games, he’s still
young and needs to work on both sides of the game, not just defence.
By Jason Brisebois
This week, our article will feature Johan Eneqvist. The Canadiens
drafted him 109th overall, in the 4th round of the 2000 entry draft.
Johan, a native of Sweden, current plays for Djurgardens IF Stockholm of the
Swedish Elite League. He made the jump in the 2005 season from Hammarby, a
lower tier team. After putting up fairly good numbers, he has struggled to
adjust to the higher level of competition. He has had trouble finding the
net, but hasn’t looked entirely out of place. Johan plays a solid game.
He excels in both the offensive and defensive ends of the rink. He can be
used in many situations, and doesn’t have any dominant weakness. That
being said, he is not exceptionally good at anything. He does lack skill,
and is a fairly average hockey player. There is no part of his game that
stands out. It is extremely doubtful that Johan will come over to play in
North America. At 25, many see him as too old to come over. He will
most likely not be in the system for much longer.
|2005-06||Djurgardens IF Stockholm||SEL||49||2||7||9||6|
Next week: To be determined.
A few people have asked me what I make of
Sergei Samsonov "retracting" his trade demand. I see it like this:
The 29 other GM’s in the league have effectively stuck their tongue out right at
Samsonov, laughed in his face, and stuck a carefully selected finger in a
specific direction. Believe it or not, this can be a humbling experience.
There’s nothing more to bring you down than being literally told that no one
wants you for free. Of course Samsonov would withdraw his demand, he’d
look foolish saying "trade me, trade me" when anyone could have had him off
waivers for squat diddly. This has nothing to do with the meeting with
Gainey and Carbonneau, Samsonov is only saving face by saying he now wants to
stay with the team. You really want to know what probably really happened
in the meeting? It may have went as follows:
Gainey: "Sergei, at this time, we can tell you that you have
Samsonov: Series of expletives, in both English and Russian.
Gainey: "We know you want out, but really, at this point,
there’s nothing imminent and not much we can do."
Carbonneau: "What you can do though, is pick up your play,
and try and play our system a little."
Samsonov: "That would require shooting and playing expletive
defence though, not my type of play."
Carbonneau, to Gainey: (whispers) "And he wonders why he’s
Gainey: "Well Sergei, there’s no point in staying adamant on your
trade demand, it’ll only make it tougher to deal you, as hard as it is already."
Samsonov: "What should I do then?"
Carbonneau: (excitedly) "Do something productive!!!"
Gainey: (cutting off Carbonneau in a hurry) "What you can do is
keep a positive attitude and play with passion and energy, and let the cards
fall as they may. In the meantime, keep your mouth shut so things don’t
get any worse."
Samsonov: "That’s not exactly my strong point either, keeping my
mouth shut, but I suppose I’ll try."
And there you have it, the unofficial summary of what really happened in the
alleged meeting that happened earlier in the week.