I think I speak for most fans when I say
finally, October is here as the season is underway, with the Habs getting off to
a fairly strong start. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs continue to get ready to
defend their Calder Cup title, as they capped off their preseason this past
week. The final thought segment looks at why cutting Maxim Lapierre was
indeed the right call to make, plus some new features in the inaugural edition
of the Recap.
With a new season upon us, we’re unveiling a
new style of the grading system, to more accurately reflect each player’s
performance. The system will be as follows:
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:
7.5 Was very strong vs Carolina, and even
though he let in some softies vs Toronto, the team certainly had a shot to win
that one (if the PP could’ve popped a timely one.)
#32 – Mark Streit:
8.5 Considering most had him pegged
for 4th line wing duty, this was very nice to see. If he can put up half
of the PP numbers that Souray did, the PP may not be half bad after all.
#8 – Mike Komisarek: 8.0 He
really seems to get up for games vs the Leafs, always seems to be getting into
it. Even saw a little bit of PP time this week.
#71 – Patrice Brisebois: 7.5
It’s almost as if he never left, mostly solid play except for some painful
blunders in each game. In all seriousness, I didn’t think he’d be half as
strong as he is now given the rust.
#79 – Andrei Markov: 7.5
Scored a critical shorty vs Toronto, and then gave the Leafs a freebie after.
Seems to be much more assertive in the opening games, good sign.
#51 – Francis Bouillon: 7.0 His
size hurts him at times, but nothing wrong with his play overall. The big
test will be if he can become more engaged physically unlike last year.
#44 – Roman Hamrlik: 7.0 Where
is he on the powerplay? The man was signed to replace Souray and isn’t
getting anywhere near the ice time. I like seeing #44 and not cringing
about defensive zone coverage though.
#21 – Chris Higgins:
8.5 Doesn’t seem to be missing a beat
despite missing basically half of training camp. Very good decision to
give him an ‘A’ as well.
#11 – Saku Koivu: 8.5 Nice to
see the captain get off to a strong start offensively, even nicer to see that
he’s yet to take a dumb penalty, which happened much too often at times last
#20 – Bryan Smolinski: 8.0
Curiously moved to the 4th line after showing chemistry on the 3rd, he displayed
a level of offensive intensity rarely seen by his predecessor in Bonk.
#25 – Mathieu Dandenault: 7.5
Considering he played most of the preseason as a defenceman, I was surprised to
see how well he played as a winger this early.
#27 – Alexei Kovalev: 7.0 He did
some things that drove everyone nuts, but he also made some strong plays and at
times was a hard player to control offensively.
#46 – Andrei Kostitsyn: 7.0
His shot is still underrated by many, the key to his success though this season
may be his defensive play, given that his linemates doesn’t always understand
the meaning of the word.
#22 – Steve Begin: 7.0 Despite
not being 100% to start the season, he played with his typical enthusiasm and
grit without going over the top as we all remember from last year.
#6 – Tom Kostopoulos: 7.0
At the very least, he brings some much needed size and grit to the team, but I
wouldn’t expect much more. For some reason, I see a lot of Chad Kilger
(when he was with the Habs) in him.
#54 – Mikhail Grabovski: 7.0 He
has some offensive creativity, but he needs to better utilize his speed and
backcheck more effectively if he is to last on the 2nd line.
#73 – Michael Ryder: 6.5
When it was his time to shine with the late powerplays, Ryder wilted, and that
concerns me. Aside from that, nothing overly good or bad from him, problem
is though, he’s a first liner.
#84 – Guillaume Latendresse: 5.5
He lost weight to improve his speed, yet looks slower than before out there.
Worse still, he’s getting beaten offensively, without adding much to the
As this was being written, the defending AHL
champions were opening up the 2007-08 season against the Rochester Americans,
we’ll have the information from that game in next week’s edition of the Recap.
Final cuts were made this week, leaving the roster looking as follows:
#30 – Jaroslav Halak, #35 – Yann
#2 – Ryan O’Byrne, #4 – Marvin
Degon, #5 – Jon Gleed, #12 – Jean-Phillipe Cote, #25 –
Pavel Valentenko, #34 – Mathieu Biron (INJ), #42 – Jamie Rivers,
#47 – Gerard Miller, #55 – Andrew Archer (INJ), #72 –
Mathieu Carle (INJ)
#7 – Eric Manlow, #10 – Cory
Urquhart, #16 – Ryan Russell, #19 – Duncan Milroy, #21 –
Jonathan Ferland, #22 – Matt D’Agostini, #23 – Sergei Kostitsyn,
#24 – Francis Lemieux, #26 – Maxim Lapierre, #27 – Janne
Lahti, #32 – Ajay Baines (INJ), #44 – Jimmy Bonneau, #76 –
Gregory Stewart, #84 – Corey Locke
With the Habs carrying a full 23-man roster, a
trio of players have been healthy scratches through both games so far, Josh
Gorges, Garth Murray, and Kyle Chipchura. The latter player of that group
is exempt from waivers, which begs the question, "Why isn’t he sent down so he
can play?" Unfortunately, the Bulldogs don’t play next until Friday, so
the benefit in sending him down is nullified, other than saving some money
against the cap. For those of you who want to send Latendresse down after
his poor performance this week, this is one of the main reasons why it won’t
When I wrote my thoughts after the first week
of camp, I incorrectly predicted that Maxim Lapierre would stick with the big
club. I figured that his performance from last season would be enough to
give him the benefit of the doubt, which many others did. Unfortunately,
it appears that Lapierre though this himself, as he implied to after being cut
early last week. This annoys me, even though it seems as if we’re on the
same page here. As a fan, I can think like this, but a player with just a
half-year of experience should not be thinking this way, nor mention any thought
of it in public. But that’s not the reason why I like the decision.
When you look at the current roster, it appears as if Lapierre would be a
scratch like Chipchura is now anyways (the team likely would’ve played
Dandenault regardless), and it’s not like Lapierre can’t improve. The
player sitting in the pressbox in his place, Garth Murray, is in a different
boat, he has to clear waivers and has essentially peaked as a player. I
also like the call to have Lapierre start playing the wing, as the player he
ultimately will replace, Steve Begin, is now pretty much a full-time winger and
no longer at the pivot spot. Let Lapierre make the mistakes at the AHL
level, before being brought back up to the NHL and the higher pressure
situations. Don’t kid yourself folks, the decision to demote Lapierre is
not so much a knock on his play as it is thinking long-term. He’ll be back
soon, count on it.
We’re looking for suggestions for the Burning Issue segment as the season goes
on, feel free to make any suggestions. Also, if you have a question you’d
like to have addressed (by either myself or anyone else off of our staff), make
sure you leave an e-mail address that we can reply to, otherwise there’s no way
that we can get back to you. As a staff, we’ve had lots of great
questions, but nowhere to respond to.