This week, the Habs split a pair of games,
beating the Penguins in Carey Price’s NHL debut before the Hurricanes got their
revenge in Montreal’s home opener. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs are off to a
strong start, earning 5 of a possible 6 points in their first 3 games.
This week’s Burning Issue looks at the Jamie Rivers situation, while we look at
some alarming early trends in the Final Thought segment, all coming up in the
8.5 – 10: Player has exceeded
expectations for the week, very strong contributions.
6.5 – 8: Player has met expectations
for the week, is not hurting the lineup.
5 – 6: Player has performed below
expectations for the week, play has negatively affected the team.
Under 4.5: Player has had a week to
forget, questions should soon be arising about his future with the organization.
#39 – Cristobal Huet:
8.5 Played extremely well vs Carolina,
there was much to blame for that loss, he had no part in any of those things
though. (Season Average: 8.0)
#31 – Carey Price: 8.5 I’m not
sure I’d have given him the #1 star against Pittsburgh, but for his NHL debut,
very well done vs a tough Pens team. (Season Average:
N/A, first rating)
#44 – Roman Hamrlik: 7.5 Very,
very strong defensively, but is almost invisible in the offensive zone.
For $5.5 million per, he needs to get more than the odd wrister off in a game.
(Season Average: 7.25)
#71 – Patrice Brisebois: 7.0
Was one of, if not the best defenceman vs Carolina, a significant reason the
team only scored 1 goal and lost. (Season Average:
#79 – Andrei Markov: 7.0
Excellent against Pittsburgh, but really, really struggled against the Canes,
the Jekyll and Hyde play this week reminded me a lot of the player whose offence
Markov is replacing. (Season Average: 7.25)
#51 – Francis Bouillon: 7.0
Steady, if unspectacular, which is a good contribution from the 3rd pairing.
I was impressed with the passing this week more than anything from him.
(Season Average: 7.0)
#32 – Mark Streit: 6.5
After a very strong debut, really regressed this week. Was ineffective on
the PP, and did not use his strong skating abilities nearly enough to succeed.
(Season Average: 7.5)
#8 – Mike Komisarek: 6.5 Some
boneheaded penalties stand out from an adequate, but below average week, he
needs to get back on track. (Season Average: 7.25)
#26 – Josh Gorges: 6.5 This was
a tale of almost 2 games in 1 for Gorges. The first half of the Penguins
game, horrible, then in the second half, really stood out. Needs more
second half performances if he’s to get regular playing time. (Season
Average: N/A, first rating)
#21 – Chris Higgins:
8.5 Hardest working forward finally puts
one in the net, his intensity never wore down vs the Canes, unlike many other
forwards. (Season Average: 8.5)
#11 – Saku Koivu: 8.5 The
effort’s almost always there, but I sense more urgency in his play, much more
aggressive than last season. (Season Average: 8.5)
#27 – Alexei Kovalev: 8.5 Very
impressed this week, still a couple of gaffes that are Brisebois-esque, but his
aggression compared to last season is a difference of night and day.
(Season Average: 7.75)
#73 – Michael Ryder: 7.5
Didn’t score this week, but don’t discount his contributions to the top line’s
success. He really needs to start shooting more though. (Season
#14 – Tomas Plekanec: 7.5 New
number, but still the same player as last year. Looks much more
comfortable on an offensive line compared to the two-way one from Week 1.
(Season Average: 7.25 I goofed last
week, recorded a grade of 7.0, but did not
post it with the rest.)
#22 – Steve Begin: 7.5 Isn’t
going and hitting anything that moves like last year, and this has helped him.
I see much more energy on the PK, where his skills are needed most.
(Season Average: 7.25)
#28 – Kyle Chipchura: 7.0
Steady, and that’s really all to expect from Chipchura, that’s what he was in
junior and with Hamilton, shouldn’t expect any more or less from him. (Season
Average: N/A, first rating)
#25 – Mathieu Dandenault: 7.0
He was at his best last year when he joined the rush. As a forward,
there’s more opportunities for him to do this, nice surprise thus far.
(Season Average: 7.25)
#46 – Andrei Kostitsyn: 7.0
Was reunited with Plekanec as was the case late last year, there’s some
chemistry between the two. That being said, needs to improve on last
game’s performance. (Season Average: 7.0)
#20 – Bryan Smolinski: 7.0 Like
several others, played quite well overall in Pittsburgh, but there were some
glaring deficiencies on the weekend. (Season Average:
#84 – Guillaume Latendresse: 6.5
Still not up to last year’s level, but overall was much better compared to last
week, starting to become involved in the offence more. (Season Average:
#6 – Tom Kostopoulos: 6.0
Generated some offensive chances, but sadly showed why he’s not expected to hit
double digits in goals this year. Mostly invisible aside from that.
(Season Average: 6.5)
The Bulldogs are now well underway into the
defense of their Calder Cup championship, and started strongly, splitting a pair
vs Rochester, while destroying Lake Erie in their first ever meeting.
Game-by-game, Games 1-3 of the season.
3 Stars: 1) Lapierre – HAM 2) Mancari – ROC 3) MacArthur –
3 Stars: 1) MacArthur – ROC 2) Lapierre – HAM 3) Weber –
3 Stars: 1) Lahti – HAM 2) Kostitsyn – HAM 3) Danis – HAM
You think Maxim Lapierre wants back up with the
Habs? Take a look below to see what I mean.
Goals: Lapierre (4)
Assists: Lapierre (4)
Points: Lapierre (8)
+/-: Lapierre (+6)
PIMS: O’Byrne (10)
Hamilton vs Syracuse
October 20: Hartford vs Hamilton
October 21: Manitoba vs Hamilton
Having gone through the timeline since Jamie
Rivers was signed, I’m very surprised to see the end result, that he is breaking
his contract to play in Russia. When he signed in July, he felt he had a
legitimate shot at the #7 spot, especially since Streit was thought to be a
full-time winger, while anyone who said that Patrice Brisebois would be a Hab
the following month would’ve been sent to a mental institution. That being
said, he curiously signed a two-way deal, which all but concedes that he figured
he’d be up at least up and down during the season (just like last year), so why
leave now? The fact that he’s a veteran player wanting to avoid the AHL
doesn’t surprise me, but this almost seems like it could have been 3 months
better spent elsewhere for Rivers. Life goes on, but this could be a big
blow to the Bulldogs, especially with their defence as injured as it is.
Although we are just 4 games into the current
season, there are a trio of concerns that have jumped out at me already:
1) Like last season, this team tends to live and die by the special
teams. The win vs Carolina: Won the PP/PK battle, the loss vs
Toronto: Lost it. This week, won the battle vs Pittsburgh, but lost vs
Carolina. If this team wants to succeed this year, they need to have their
even strength play win them some games, regardless of how the special teams
2) Equal opportunities to each of the 4th lines seems to occur for
the first half of each game, which happens to coincide with the awful first
halves the Habs put forth this week. There is a reason the 1st line is
what they are, and the 4th is what it is, they’re not equal, why should the time
be close to it?
3) Sticking with the lines, is coach Carbonneau already starting
the period-by-period tweaking of lines? Switching Latendresse for
Kostitsyn was a very odd move, but even more odd was switching them back 15
minutes later. Developing chemistry in the early season is critical,
changing the units like they did last season already would be catastrophic.