It was a very up and down week for the Habs,
who, despite less than adequate play at times, wound up splitting their 4 games.
The Bulldogs continue to roll, winning both of their contests, while achieving
an offensive milestone. As always, we have the grades, a closer look at a
former Quebec-born Hab, while the Final Thought takes a closer look at the
Robert Lang acquisition, in the Recap.
8.00 to 10.00:
I) Stars/Superstars playing at or above performance, salary, and role expectations.
II) Above average players producing beyond performance, salary, and role expectations.
III) Average/Role players delivering well beyond performance, salary, and role
7.00 to 7.75:
I) Stars/Superstars playing below performance, salary, and role expectations.
II) Above average players producing at performance, salary, and role expectations.
III) Average/Role players delivering beyond performance, salary, and role expectations.
I) Stars/Superstars playing far below performance, salary, and role expectations.
II) Above average players producing below performance, salary, and role expectations.
III) Average/Role players delivering at performance, salary, and role expectations.
I) Stars/Superstars playing outrageously below performance, salary, and role
II) Above average players producing far below performance, salary, and role expectations.
III) Average/Role players delivering below performance, salary, and role
A solid effort vs Philly, he kept the team close in a game that the team really
had no business being close in. (Previous:
He had a shutout, a stinker, and a fairly strong
game in a very much up and down week – a little consistency wouldn’t hurt. (Previous:
Held his own after being shifted up to the top
pairing, and was one of the team’s better d-men this week before that. (Previous:
The number of mistakes he made could actually be
counted on just one hand – not great, but good considering the rest. (Previous:
A quiet week which considering the circumstances could be a whole lot worse. (Previous:
Tailed off towards the end of the week, but there were moments in the Ottawa and
Boston games that suggested he’s slowly getting back to form.
(Previous: 5.75 Average:
Hopefully the time off coupled with getting pummeled will help bring back the
aggression that has been mostly missing this year. He and Markov just
didn’t have it this week. (Previous:
The one defenceman who could be consistently
relied upon to make plays simply did not this past week – nor did any other
His frequent mistakes were masked by some of the others making the same errors,
but he certainly didn’t bring anything to the lineup. (Previous:
7.75 Had points in 3 of the 4
games and was one of the few consistent threats offensively. (Previous:
7.50 In a week where there was
precious little offence, he seemed to have a hand in a lot of those goals. (Previous:
7.25 Had a great game vs Ottawa
(worthy of a 10), but tailed off quickly thereafter in his offensive production. (Previous:
7.00 Aside from a goal, no
offensive production, but he was one of the few players who impressed me in
terms of the hustle and energy. (Previous:
7.00 He certainly doesn’t
capitalize on every opportunity, but he still makes his way onto the scoresheet.
More on him in the Final Thought. (Previous:
7.00 Two very sub-par games at
the beginning, but really picked things up towards the end. (Previous:
6.75 Certainly not the worse
player on the ice, but hopefully his benching will bring back the Lapierre we
saw a few weeks ago. (Previous:
6.75 Saw more of the energy
that made him a regular in the lineup for the past several seasons – a strong
week to build upon. (Previous: N/A Average:
6.75 A very safe and effective
performance this week; with the defence banged up for a little bit, his presence
in the lineup should be a must. (Previous:
N/A Average: 6.70)
6.50 As quick as we saw the
burst of energy that endeared him to fans last season, it went away even quicker. (Previous:
6.50 If it wasn’t for the fact
I make every effort possible to avoid using N/A for a grade, that’s what he
would’ve had. I base this grade on the fact he was simply adequate in the
limited time we saw him this week. (Previous:
5.75 His play suffered as a
result of Kovalev’s lack of effort, but he certainly didn’t do much to get that
line going again. (Previous: 8.00 Average:
5.50 Normally when a player
struggles, I can say, "At least the effort was there." I can’t even do
that this week – he floated, was lazy, made countless mistakes while showing
next to no effort (you’re allowed to skate after a puck); the only reason this
isn’t even lower is the fact he got the shootout winner in St. Louis.
Carey Price technically had more offensive production than he did this
5.50 A prearranged fight with
the other team’s goon 3 minutes into a game means absolutely nothing to me.
His job is to stand up for his teammates, and he failed miserably. If
people don’t want to fight against him, fine, but he can still play a physical
game to protect his teammates. I suppose he’d have to be in shape for that
to happen though. (Previous:
The Bulldogs’ offence carried the team this
week to a pair of victories. Hamilton is now the highest scoring team in
the Western Conference, but sit in 3rd in the division.
3 Stars: 1) D’Agostini – HAM 2) Meyer – ROC 3) Chipchura – HAM
3 Stars: 1) Russell – HAM 2) Chipchura – HAM 3) D’Agostini – HAM
For the second straight week, Matt D’Agostini
had 3 goals – but this week, a plus rating over last week’s -4.
Goals: D’Agostini (12)
Assists: Lehoux (12)
Points: D’Agostini (19)
+/-: Belle (+10)
PIMS: Stewart (53)
Manchester vs Hamilton
Hamilton vs Peoria
Hamilton vs Houston
As I sit back and try and think of possible
players to feature in this segment (drop me a line if you have some you’d like
mentioned here), I often find myself referring to the stat pages just after the
turn of the millennium, when the Habs had countless injuries and you really
needed a game night program to figure out just who was in the lineup at any
given time. This week’s player is another one of the many who’ll likely be
in this column before the end of the season.
Eric Landry joined the Habs for the 2000-01 season after spending time with
Calgary and Edmonton, having just a small sniff of NHL action (15 games with the
Flames.) He started off the season with the AHL’s Citadelles, producing at
over a point per game clip (32 points in 27 games) before getting the call as
one of many injury callups. Essentially a regular for the rest of the
season, Landry played 51 games with the CH that season, picking up 11 points in
51 games. The following year, it was back to Quebec, aside from a quick 2
game callup (of which he had an assist.) That 2-game stint was the end of
his NHL career, as he left the Canadiens in 2002.
Of course, part of the fun of doing this is chronicling the journey afterward,
which Landry has certainly taken. In 2002-03, he took one last crack at
hockey in North America, playing for the AHL’s Utah Grizzlies, but was never
called up. He then went to Switzerland for 4 seasons, playing for a
triumvirate of teams, not really having the offensive numbers from his AHL days.
Rather than calling it quits, he went off to Russia, and has spent the past 2
seasons playing for Dynamo Moscow. In case anyone’s saying, "Boy, that
team name sounds familiar," it should, as this is where Pavel Valentenko signed
a few weeks back. Currently, Valentenko is pointless in 3 games, with an
even rating and 4 PIMS.
One of the more interesting discussions lately
involves rehashing the acquisition of Robert Lang and whether it should have
been done or not. As you all know, the pick used to acquire Lang was
previously acquired in exchange for Mikhail Grabovski, who leads the Leafs in
goals, which leads to a whole other discussion. Here’s my take on the two:
Some people have been saying that the team should’ve kept Grabovski altogether
and held the difference in salary until later on. Like what happened with
Mike Ribeiro a couple of years back, I think the same would’ve held true with
Grabovski had he stayed in Montreal. The game against Toronto a couple of
weeks ago only proved that there was a significant rift between the team and
Grabovski. Had he made the Canadiens, and that is a valid thing to say,
there would’ve been some locker room issues that the team really didn’t need.
Because of the issues, there is a good chance they would have opted to let
Grabovski go via waivers at the beginning of the year, and let Kyle Chipchura
stay as more of a regular (or bring in a replacement centre still.) With
this in mind, I still have no issues whatsoever with regards to letting
Grabovski go, despite his current 9 goals and 56-point pace.
As for Lang, I’ve said before that I’m somewhat mystified as to why people
believe he’s been a major underachiever this year. Currently, he’s on pace
for 51 points, just under what he’s had the past 2 seasons. Considering
that he’s on the 3rd line with the Habs and not the 2nd line like in Chicago and
Detroit, and there seems to be nothing wrong with his production. Not that
long ago, a lot of people would have been okay that kind of production from the
2nd line, so I think expectations may be a little too high here.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t factor in the salaries here, as there is a major
difference between the two. It’s fine to have lots of cap space, but it’s
essentially useless unless you can use it on something. Mats Sundin
doesn’t factor into the consideration, as he had numerous opportunities to come
to Montreal, and passed every time. The team could sure use help on
defence, but that would require teams to actually have some upgrades
available, something that really can’t be said currently. The only one
that comes to mind from the time of Lang’s acquisition is Mathieu Schneider, who
isn’t exactly having a stellar season in Atlanta.
Long story short, Lang brings a lot of things to the table that Grabovski would
not have – he’s a veteran with playoff experience, is a big, right handed
centre, and is a proven scorer. Their point pace is nearly the same, and I
can say with some confidence that if Lang was in Toronto getting the quality ice
time Grabovski gets, his numbers would be the same, if not better. Lang
may cost more than Grabovski, but he’ll be much more valuable than the latter
when injuries and the playoffs roll around, especially since Grabovski most
likely wouldn’t have been around at the start of the season anyways. It’s
always fun to second guess, but this is one of those instances where it seems
way too premature.
Next week, the Recap will appear Monday due to the Grey Cup – you can
thank the Habs playing Sunday and the first lengthy power outage of the year for
the 2-day delay this week.