For the most part, it was a nice rebound week
for the Habs, taking 5 of a possible 6 points, and finally managed to score more
than 2 goals in consecutive games. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said
for the Bulldogs, after an absolute disastrous week. Saku Koivu is the
topic of discussion in the Burning Issue, while the Final Thought segment looks
at the youngsters and what’s best for them going forward. This, plus the
weekly grades, 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: 9.0
Can’t fault him in the game the Habs lost, and was a big reason the team won
both their games this week. (Season Average:
#51 – Francis Bouillon: 7.5
Likely his best week of the season, and that’s even considering the fact he
finally got a point.
(Season Average: 6.80)
#8 – Mike Komisarek: 7.5
He’s at his best when he gets involved in the rush, his skating is underrated
and often overlooked. (Season Average:
#44 – Roman Hamrlik: 7.0
Despite his strong defensive play, I still can’t get over the ineptness he shows
in the offensive zone.
(Season Average: 7.41)
#79 – Andrei Markov: 7.0
Better than last week, but he still is nowhere near the player he was at the
beginning of the season. (Season Average:
#71 – Patrice Brisebois: 7.0
It’s never encouraging when you hear a player say that he’s likely to play hurt
the rest of the season, but this is the situation with him. (Season Average: 6.95)
#26 – Josh Gorges: 6.5
Nothing really stood out to me this week one way or the other. Considering
he’s fighting to stay in the lineup, this can be good or bad.
(Season Average: 6.78)
#3 – Ryan O’Byrne: 6.0 Several
bad penalties, and a couple of big mistakes highlight an up and down week for
(Season Average: 6.50)
#21 – Chris Higgins: 8.0
The goal totals may not show it, but he was a major threat offensively almost
every time he had the puck. (Season Average:
#11 – Saku Koivu: 7.5 Nice to see
him pot a couple, but even before that, his play had picked up compared to
previous weeks. (Season Average: 7.5)
#46 – Andrei Kostitsyn: 7.5
Had a little extra spark in his step this week, and I don’t think it was all
because of his brother coming up. (Season Average:
#27 – Alexei Kovalev: 7.5 Well, his
ice time went up as promised this week, but most of it seemed to be on the PK,
not exactly the best way to get offence going.
(Season Average: 7.73)
#14 – Tomas Plekanec: 7.5
Paired with Kovalev on the PK, this seemed to get his game going back to early
(Season Average: 7.55)
#32 – Mark Streit: 7.5
When he gets aggressive, he tends to succeed more. As much as he may want
to play defence, he’s better suited to be a forward.
(Season Average: 6.95)
#28 – Kyle Chipchura: 7.0 If I was
Bryan Smolinski, I’d be getting worried about my spot in the lineup, Chipchura
is slowly solidifying himself as a very reliable forward. (Season
#74 – Sergei Kostitsyn: 6.5
Although his line succeeded, he often wasn’t a factor in the plays. That
being said, certainly not the worst debut we’ve seen either. (Season Average:
N/A, first rating)
#25 – Mathieu Dandenault: 6.5
Nothing special, but when your forward line has another defenceman and a minor
leaguer, what can you really expect?
(Season Average: 7.14)
#84 – Guillaume Latendresse: 6.5
For someone who doesn’t have a solid grip on a regular spot, this was not the
time for a minor injury. (Season Average:
#6 – Tom Kostopoulos: 6.5
If only he had a little more offensive flare; even he admitted that pass vs
Philly was a sheer fluke.
(Season Average: 6.86)
#73 – Michael Ryder: 6.5
The plan to get him going is to play him at a new position? At least he
has an excuse for not scoring for now. (Season
#40 – Maxim Lapierre: 6.0
Yet another week of lackadaisical drive; evidently, he figured he wasn’t brought
up to play the same way he did with the Bulldogs. (Season Average:
There’s no need to preface what you’re about to
see when you read the scores/stats below; if you can’t take many losses/bad
stats, do yourself a favour and skip this section.
Games 22-25 of the season.
3 Stars: 1) Linglet – PEO 2) Kariya – PEO 3) Beckford-Tseu
3 Stars: 1) Howard – GRA 2) Danis – HAM 3) Kindl – GRA
3 Stars: 1) Engelhardt – GRA 2) Locke – HAM 3) Ericsson –
3 Stars: 1) Lindstrom – SYR 2) Konopka – SYR 3) Motherwell
Any time J-P Cote leads the team in a good
category offensively, life is not good.
Goals: Ferland (8)
Assists: Kostitsyn (16) (Active roster leader: Locke – 13)
Points: Kostitsyn (22) (Active roster leader: Locke – 19)
+/-: Bouchard/Milroy/O’Byrne (+4)
PIMS: Lapierre (63) (Active roster leader: Stewart – 59)
December 21: Hamilton vs
December 22: Hamilton vs Manitoba
The popular trade concept of the week was trade
captain Saku Koivu, despite the fact that the alleged rumour about a deal with
the Sharks was shot down not only by both organizations, but also by the same
people who were said to (but didn’t) start it in the first place. Sadly
though, that doesn’t seem to stop the vultures who seem to want him out at any
cost. Here’s the reality, and it hasn’t changed for several years – the
Habs aren’t trying to move him, they’ve never asked him to waive his no-trade,
nor has Koivu asked for a trade. Granted, this is the public statement,
but I’m inclined to take the parties involved at their word. There are
some trade talks that seem plausible, but given the current circumstances, this
isn’t about to be one of them anytime soon.
The youth, the youth, the youth, that’s all
I’ve been hearing for years now. "Trade/sit the veterans, play the
youngsters, and this team will be better now and later" is the sentiment that
most fans seem to hold. Those of you who read this piece weekly know my
opinions about getting rid of the veterans (in short, when the strong teams have
them, why shouldn’t Montreal?) Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve had
the opportunity to see pretty much any signed young player with NHL
potential play with the Habs, with varying results of success (there are a
couple still with the Bulldogs, but not many.) Carey Price continues to
show why he’s so highly touted, while Sergei Kostitsyn and Ryan O’Byrne have
shown flashes that they can possibly play down the road, while Guillaume
Latendresse, Maxim Lapierre, and before he was sent down, Mikhail Grabovski,
have not lived up to expectations.
On the surface, some playing well while others struggle doesn’t seem half bad,
that’s what you get from young players. But the fact that almost all of
them have been inconsistent at some point this season (be it at the NHL level,
AHL level, or both) shows one thing: They’re not ready to fully carry a team
yet. So before you start yet another message-board/water cooler discussion
about how the vets (who granted have been inconsistent at times as well) need to
go, think about this: Are the aforementioned players really ready to be core
players in a major market like Montreal? If you’re not 100% sure the
answer is yes, then it may not be time just yet for those types of moves to
happen. As frustrating as it is at times, patience is the key here,
there’s nothing wrong with letting the players develop – more often that not, it
helps more than it hurts, and personally, those odds sound pretty good to me.