The Habs split their 4 games this week but lost
both games to a team that is quickly becoming a rival in Carolina. The
Bulldogs meanwhile, continued their improved play as of late, winning both of
their contests. We look at a former highly touted prospect in our
nostalgia section, while the Final Thought takes a closer look at the 4 Montreal
prospects playing in the WJHC’s. This, plus the grades, 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
His only loss came when the Habs spent nearly a period shorthanded – it’s hard
to fault the goalie in a game like that. (Previous:
Granted, it was his first game in 7, however, it was far from his best outing to
say the least. (Previous: N/A Average:
His play improved when he was paired with Gorges,
good things happen when he gets involved offensively (2 assists). (Previous:
Can’t argue with his 5 on 5 play or PK work, but
he looks unsure of himself on the PP (mind you most of the Habs do this year.) (Previous:
It was nice to finally see him back and blocking shots like always. The
physical presence I’m sure will come back soon enough. (Previous:
Another player who benefited from having less ice time when Komisarek returned –
he’ll be much more effective playing 3-4 minutes less per game. (Previous:
His play had continued to improve over the past few weeks; it remains to be seen
if less ice time will help this even further. (Previous:
He’s been overworked over the past month or so and
now the cracks are starting to show. If anyone can truly benefit from 6
days off, it’s him. (Previous: 7.00 Average:
He was better than last week. Unfortunately, that says next to nothing, as
his play still needs a lot of work. (Previous:
8.00 The offensive game is
slowly starting to pick up again, it’d be even better if he’d shoot the puck
just a little more often. (Previous: 6.75 Average:
8.00 The coach asked for more
physical play out of him and that’s what he got…plus a couple of goals to boot. (Previous:
7.75 The aggression is always
there with Lapierre. Most of the time, it’s a good thing, but we saw an
instance where it hurt the team (led to a PPG vs Carolina.) (Previous:
7.75 We saw the first instance
of him struggling this week, but he also rebounded from it quite nicely. (Previous:
7.75 He almost always leaves
you wanting more, but at the end of the day, he still finds a way to hit the
scoresheet (3 out of 4 games this week). (Previous:
7.50 It was nice to see him
finally score, but way too many penalties for him to be in the top echelon of
the grades this week. (Previous:
7.50 The brief time he spent as
a centre makes me wonder if it’s a better option (over Maxwell); he seems to be
more confident in that role. (Previous: 7.50 Average:
7.50 It wasn’t a good start to
the week, but it was certainly a strong finish. Let’s see if he can carry
it forward now. (Previous: 6.25 Average:
7.00 Being jerked around from
line to line almost every game is starting to hurt his consistency. (Previous: 7.25 Average:
7.00 Before he got hurt, he was
beginning to remind me of the same Kostitsyn we saw early in the year, and
that’s not a good thing. (Previous: 7.00 Average:
6.75 He’s not bad when he’s
controlling the puck in the offensive zone, but it’s the fact that he rarely is
quick enough to get there that still concerns me. (Previous:
6.50 Although his linemate (Kovalev)
scored 3 times this week, he didn’t factor in on any of them – in fact, he
didn’t have a point at all! (Previous: 6.25 Average:
6.25 He’s shown signs that he’ll be
a solid NHL’er down the road, but he is overmatched at this point. (Previous:
Cedrick Desjardins made the most of his
opportunity this week, winning both of his games while Marc Denis was backing up
Jaroslav Halak in Montreal.
3 Stars: 1) Desjardins – HAM 2) Glumac – HAM 3)
3 Stars: 1) Desharnais – HAM 2) Pacioretty – HAM 3)
Desjardins – HAM
Thomas Beauregard made a good impression in his
AHL debut this week, picking up a point while having a positive rating in his 2
Goals: D’Agostini (14) (Active
leader: Glumac (12))
Assists: Lehoux (23)
Points: Lehoux (31)
+/-: Chipchura (+14)
PIMS: Stewart (90)
Hamilton vs Rochester
December 27: Hamilton vs Syracuse
December 28: Rochester vs Hamilton
For those of you who aren’t completely sick of the All-Star voting process,
there is still time to vote for your favourite Bulldogs for the 2009 AHL
All-Star Game. Click
here to fill out
With the theme of former Montreal prospects in mind, this week we look at a
player who many thought would have a prosperous NHL career (although not with
Jozef Balej was the 78th overall pick by Montreal in 2000 out of the WHL
(Portland). He debuted in the AHL in 2002-03, and was virtually
ineffective, picking up just 20 points (5-15) in 56 games. His breakout
season came the following year, as he picked up 58 points (25-33) in only 55
games, and even made his NHL debut with the Habs, going pointless in 4 contests.
Those were the only games he played with Montreal though, as he was dealt just
before the trade deadline as the key cog of the trade that landed the Habs
Alexei Kovalev. He split the rest of that season between New York and
their AHL affiliate in Hartford (13 games with the Rangers and 5 with the
Wolfpack). He spent all of the 04-05 season in the minors before joining
Vancouver. It was here that injuries really began to take their toll, as
he played just 40 games that season, including one with the Canucks which
ultimately was the final game of his career.
Over the last 3 seasons, Balej has been all around the world. He spent the
06-07 season in Switzerland (Fribourg), where he missed several games due to
injury, but still was in the top-5 in scoring. He then went back to the
Vancouver organization last season, re-joining the Moose for another injury
plagued campaign, playing in only 16 games. This year, he has taken his
trade to the Czech Republic where he is top-5 in team scoring, despite missing
nearly 40% of the team’s games due to, you guessed it, even more injuries.
We’ll be continuing this look back at old prospects in the coming weeks.
If you have a player you’d like to request, drop me a line in the comment box
With the expectation level raised for anything Habs related this season, I can’t
help but be a little concerned for the 4 prospects who’ll be representing the
organization at the upcoming World Juniors. I’m worried that people will
be expecting too much from players who for the most part will be role players at
P.K. Subban (CAN) is a returnee to the team, but early indications show his role
won’t be much bigger from last year. When your coach selects you to be the
defenceman who has to skate as a winger while the team gets a replacement
forward, it’s probably not a good sign. He’ll play more for sure, but he
doesn’t look to be the core player many of us hoped he would be.
As for the two Americans (Danny Kristo and Ryan McDonagh), the latter at least
should have a big role, playing in all situations. Kristo though is
another story. At best, he looks to be a 4th liner but more realistically,
he may be the 13th and spare forward when the tournament begins. The fact
that he was named to the team is an accomplishment, but aside from that, I
wouldn’t expect too much from him.
Nichlas Torp (SWE) already introduced himself to Team Canada in an exhibition
game where he dished out plenty of hits – some clean, others…not so much.
To me, he’s the most intriguing prospect of the 4, but he too isn’t exactly high
on the depth chart on the Swedish roster. By tournament’s end he may have
made a name for himself, but it likely won’t be with a whole lot of ice time.
As always, I know I’m looking forward to another exciting WJHC’s, but I’m
keeping my expectations tempered for the 4 Hab prospects. For now, I’ll
leave those expectations to where they belong, the Habs.
Notes: The Recap will be back to its regular Sunday publication
this week, as the Habs don’t play this coming Sunday. However, because the
Habs play just one game this week, we’ll focus primarily on the Bulldogs in this
edition. Instead of grading the Habs based on their weekly performance,
the Bulldogs will receive a grade for their performance to date. The next
set of Hab grades will be in two weeks time, and will include both that week and
this Saturday’s game vs Pittsburgh.