To say the past week for the Habs was ugly
would be an understatement in the eyes of many, despite beating the arch-rival
Maple Leafs. The Hamilton Bulldogs also followed their parent team’s
pattern of choking in the 3rd period en route to yet another winless week.
We’ll have this, plus the weekly player grades, as well as our Burning Issue and
Final Thought segments taking a look at Guy Carbonneau, 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.
#31 – Carey Price: 7.5
Very strong vs Toronto, but was not on his game in New Jersey, although in his
defence, not many were in that one. (Season Average:
#39 – Cristobal Huet: 7.0 A very
solid first 40 minutes, a humiliating final 25, and an even worse shootout,
hardly All-Star calibre there. (Season Average:
#44 – Roman Hamrlik: 8.0
Much more active on the offensive side of things while continuing to get things
done in his own end.
(Season Average: 7.56)
#79 – Andrei Markov: 7.0
Not his best week by any means, I’m sure his undisclosed injury had a lot to do
with that though. (Season Average:
#8 – Mike Komisarek: 7.0
He wasn’t the worst d-man on the ice this week, but he certainly wasn’t the best
either. (Season Average:
#26 – Josh Gorges: 7.0
Another quality game, kept things simple and didn’t make any big mistakes.
I’d love to see him try and build on it before next weekend.
(Season Average: 6.79)
#32 – Mark Streit: 6.5
Was a little better as a forward, maybe the move will get him going more.
(Season Average: 7.0)
#71 – Patrice Brisebois: 6.5 The
brutal giveaway in New Jersey overshadows what was otherwise a pretty good week. (Season Average:
#51 – Francis Bouillon: 6.5 His
ice time went up this week with Markov’s injury, and he responded with his best
week since his injury.
(Season Average: 6.69)
#84 – Guillaume Latendresse: 8.0
Very impressed this week, he was involved actively in all aspects and popped
home 3 goals, nice to see. (Season Average:
#28 – Kyle Chipchura: 8.0 Very
strong week at both ends, is making a very strong case to become the 3rd line
centre earlier than anticipated. (Season
#27 – Alexei Kovalev: 7.5 In a week
where the team was lacking on the offensive side, he stood out as one of the few
(Season Average: 7.83)
#14 – Tomas Plekanec: 7.5
Like Kovalev, one of the few bright spots, although he too struggled at times.
(Season Average: 7.61)
#54 – Mikhail Grabovski: 7.5
Was a big threat on Saturday, looked much more comfortable playing with his
fellow countryman. (Season Average:
#21 – Chris Higgins: 7.0
Looked pretty good with Plekanec and Kovalev, perhaps he’ll be able to produce
more consistently now. (Season Average: 7.89)
#22 – Steve Begin: 6.5
Despite not having his best week, I still was a little surprised to see him
scratched – he really could’ve been used down the stretch on Saturday.
(Season Average: 7.28)
#46 – Andrei Kostitsyn: 6.5
He was invisible for most of the week, not a good sign when he’s being counted
on to score regularly. (Season Average:
#25 – Mathieu Dandenault: 6.5
Looked better with Chipchura and Latendresse, but still struggled, something we
haven’t seen a lot of this year.
(Season Average: 7.22)
#6 – Tom Kostopoulos: 6.5
He was decent 5 on 5, but struggled on the PK, which comes as a surprise given
his play on it so far.
(Season Average: 6.94)
#11 – Saku Koivu: 6.0
The struggles continue for the captain, although he had a few good plays against
the Preds. (Season Average: 7.61)
#20 – Bryan Smolinski: 6.0
Costly penalty on Saturday, the rest of his play was only so-so. (Season Average:
#73 – Michael Ryder: 5.5
You can’t miss that many golden opportunities as a forward, especially one who
makes near $3 million. (Season
The defending Calder Cup champions now find
themselves 1 point out of being the worst team in the Western Conference.
Games 18-19 of the season.
3 Stars: 1) Jensen – WBS 2) Lapierre – HAM 3) Minard – WBS
3 Stars: 1) Ross – PHI 2) Boucher – PHI 3) Laliberte – PHI
Despite averaging over 3 PIMS per game, Maxim
Lapierre barely cracks the top-20 league wide in that department.
Goals: Ferland (8)
Assists: Kostitsyn (14)
Points: Kostitsyn (19)
+/-: Bouchard/Locke/O’Byrne (+4)
PIMS: Lapierre (63)
December 7: Binghamton vs Hamilton
Milwaukee vs Hamilton
When teams are struggling to score, teams need to get creative to try and get
things going again. Many teams will bring up players from the minors to
try and send the veterans the message, but that’s just not Montreal’s style.
In the team’s defence, the Bulldogs aren’t exactly lighting things up; when
Jonathan Ferland leads the team in goals, help is not on the way. So Guy
Carbonneau, without many good options from the farm, decided to get "creative"
by putting together a lineup that no one in their right mind would have expected
– they dressed 8 defencemen, and to their credit, it almost worked, as the team
did score 4 against a good Nashville team. But here’s what appears to be
the motto heading forward: When in need of offence, dress more defence. It
just puts a whole new interpretation to the saying "The best offence is a good
Sticking with the coaching, as I was doing the grades and looking over the
umpteenth line combos of the season, a couple of things popped in my head with
regards to some of the players. I thought Mikhail Grabovski looked good on
Saturday but when I looked at some of the old lines, it’s pretty obvious why –
he finally got to play on a line where offence was the key, rather than the
defensive/energy lines he’s been thrown on. Then I looked at Saku Koivu,
who has struggled lately and his linemates – a struggling Michael Ryder, a
struggling Guillaume Latendresse (until this week), and now the struggling Bryan
Smolinski and a defenceman in Mark Streit. I know he’s supposed to be able
to create some offense on his own, but if he keeps being placed with struggling
players (even Higgins hasn’t been great lately), his struggles will likely
continue. My point here is this though – Guy Carbonneau needs to get
better at putting the players on lines where they will be able to succeed.
Grabovski will always fail on a defensive line, while Tom Kostopoulos won’t
succeed on a scoring line – we knew this before the season, and yet both have
been experimented with on multiple occasions. If these mixing and matching
mistakes continue, so too will the struggles.