This past week, the Habs showed they could
score with the best of the NHL, popping 16 goals in 3 games en route to an
unbeaten week. In Hamilton, the Bulldogs continue to struggle, again
losing 2 in 3 games for the second straight week. The burning issue looks
at the current goaltending situation in Montreal, while the Final Thought for
the week discusses how the start to this season is eerily similar to that of
2006-07, in the recap.
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:
Quality game vs Boston, very disappointed with the finish vs Carolina, his lack
of alertness on the 4th goal almost let the Canes back in it. (Season Average:
#31 – Carey Price: 6.5
Positioning wasn’t sound, nor was his rebound control, and anything to the glove
side was an adventure. That being said, he did win his game, and that’s
what matters most. (Season Average: 7.5)
#79 – Andrei Markov: 8.0
Much better week, looked more like the player who earned the $5.75 million per
season. (Season Average: 7.38)
#44 – Roman Hamrlik: 7.5
Essentially has taken the #1 job from Andrei Markov, and had points in every
game this week after starting the season slow in that regard.
(Season Average: 7.5)
#8 – Mike Komisarek: 7.5 Aside
from a couple of iffy giveaways, a much stronger week, including some surprising
up-ice rushes. (Season Average:
#32 – Mark Streit: 7.5
Rebounded very well after a below average past week, but still needs to use his
speed to his advantage more.
(Season Average: 7.25)
#71 – Patrice Brisebois: 7.0
Decent week; I wouldn’t think much of his scratching on Saturday, as Gorges
needed to get in there eventually. (Season Average:
#51 – Francis Bouillon: 7.0
The only regular skater that’s yet to put up a point, but that really doesn’t
matter. He’s doing the job defensively, and that’s good enough for now.
(Season Average: 7.0)
#26 – Josh Gorges: 7.0
Like his other game this year, he was shaky at first, but picked it up towards
the end of the game; I’d like to see him get another game in the near future.
(Season Average: 6.75)
#14 – Tomas Plekanec: 9.0 Wow,
there really isn’t much more to say after his performance this week.
(Season Average: 7.75)
#25 – Mathieu Dandenault: 8.5
Scores a pair of goals from the 4th line, exceeding everyone’s expectations by a
(Season Average: 7.5)
#28 – Kyle Chipchura: 8.0 The
mistakes are still there, but already they’re fewer and further between, a sign
of things I hope. (Season
#27 – Alexei Kovalev: 8.0 His last
game wasn’t the greatest, but was a very big threat in the other games.
(Season Average: 7.88)
#21 – Chris Higgins: 7.5 There
comes a time where he needs to start capitalizing on his chances. Seeing
how almost everyone else did this week, this really stands out. (Season Average: 8.25)
#11 – Saku Koivu: 7.5 Wasn’t as
aggressive as last week, his production slipped as a result; how much did the
flu have to do with it? (Season Average: 8.13)
#73 – Michael Ryder: 7.5
Like Higgins, lots of chances, minimal execution, hopefully the goal on Saturday
gets him going. (Season
#22 – Steve Begin: 7.5 A
well-deserved first goal of the season caps off a solid week on the defensive
side of things.
(Season Average: 7.17)
#6 – Tom Kostopoulos: 7.5
I liked the aggressiveness he played with this week, forced some turnovers and
created some chances.
(Season Average: 6.88)
#20 – Bryan Smolinski: 7.0
Steady at the very least, would’ve been nice to see him a little more involved
in the offence though. (Season Average:
#59 – Mikhail Grabovski: 7.0
Nice to see him get his 1st goal. Seems more comfortable on the wing, but
given his size, that’s likely only a short-term fix. (Season Average:
#46 – Andrei Kostitsyn: 7.0
The checking line isn’t his niche, but he didn’t play half bad in that spot,
especially considering he’d sat a full week. (Season Average:
#84 – Guillaume Latendresse: 7.0
He was hitting a lot this week, although most of them were well after the puck
had been moved. My patience is wearing thin with his offensive game
though, and I highly doubt I’m the only one with that concern. (Season Average:
Hamilton improved on their porous offensive
outing this week, however, they still only managed to win 1 of 3, and have
slipped to 4th in the division.
Games 7-9 of the season.
3 Stars: 1) Tardif – GRA 2) McGrath – GRA 3) Cote –
3 Stars: 1) Newbury – TOR 2) Halak – HAM 3) Leveille – TOR
3 Stars: 1) Kostitsyn – HAM 2) Halak – HAM 3) Degon –
A strong week from Sergei Kostitsyn propelled
him into the team lead in points, while Joel Bouchard made his Bulldogs debut.
Goals: Ferland (5)
Assists: Kostitsyn (9)
Points: Kostitsyn (12)
+/-: Locke (+4)
PIMS: Cote (20)
November 3: Hamilton vs Rochester
I suspect this won’t be the last time this
topic gets discussed, but let’s talk goalies, and no, not a controversy.
Through the first 10 games, Carey Price has made a total of 3 starts, which is a
pace of 24 over the full season. The question though, is that enough?
Considering that he’s the backup goalie (and overlooking the other
circumstances), that seems about a sufficient pace. However, given those
other circumstances, it really isn’t. But at the same time, it’s hard to
sit Cristobal Huet with the way he’s been playing over the first 3 weeks.
I think, personally, the time has come to let Price go down to Hamilton for a
few weeks, and bring either of the 2 goalies down in Steeltown up (both have
played about equally thus far.) If Huet’s going to be the guy, let’s see
what he can do with 4 or 5 straight starts, and at the very least, Price can’t
do a whole lot worse with the Bulldogs than the current duo currently is.
It’s a small move, and with the balanced schedule, it may not be the worst time
to try it.
Although it was nice to see the Habs explode on
offence this week, I also saw 3 very alarming trends that remind me so much of
last season, which suggests that this team may be not be as far along as the
early results would indicate. Those are:
1) The PP, although 1st in the league, is nowhere near as good as
the success rate implies. On about half of their opportunities, it takes
the Habs 4 attempts to get the puck in the offensive zone, and have very little
movement when they get there. What’s nice to see is that the odd time,
they score on those same powerplays.
2) The PK continues to struggle, badly, hovering around the 79%
range, which is where the basement dwellers usually are. So far, the PP
has bailed the Habs out on several occasions, as the season progresses, it will
be much, much harder for this trend to continue.
3) Last year, the Habs weren’t the greatest team at closing things
out in the 3rd period. This week alone only solidified the notion that
this trend will continue for a while yet. They let Carolina get within 2
with a 6-on-4 PP, while Pittsburgh sent it to OT with a goal when there was less
than 5 minutes left, and even Boston was starting to show signs of life
(although the Habs did put the finishing touches on that one shortly
thereafter.) Still though, letting up in the 3rd periods of games will
lead to more bad than good, this needs to be addressed in the very near future.
We’re still building our first bank of
questions to be posed to our writing staff, feel free to send any
Canadiens-related questions to us through the comment feature below, it will be
forwarded on to our writers, with the questions and answers appearing in a
future mailbag article.