It was a winning week for the Habs despite
having over $17 million in cap space on the IR, as they won all 3 of their games
including 2 over teams they’re trying to catch in the East. The Bulldogs
had similar success, taking 3 of their 4 games. We look at one of
Montreal’s former tough guys in the former player segment, while the Final
Thought looks at the key to the Habs’ success over the past few weeks.
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
The GA total may not be pretty, but you can’t argue with 3 victories while
facing over 30 shots in every game. (Previous:
Strong defensive play (for the most part) while contributing with 4 points.
The offensive improvement now needs to be there more frequently. (Previous:
Much better in his own end this week, and seemed to block anything within a 10
foot radius of him. (Previous:
Finally bulged the twine, and looked a lot more
comfortable playing with Komisarek this week – it takes some time to bring the
chemistry back. (Previous: 6.75 Average:
Another player who was strong offensively, although his defensive gaffes proved
to be more costly. Still, when your #6 d-man puts up a few points, it’s
not all bad. (Previous: 6.75 Average:
Bounced around with different pairing mates, and even saw a shift or two as a
forward, it’s hard to find any sort of rhythm doing that. (Previous:
He had some absolutely egregious errors this week that took away from his solid
physical presence. (Previous:
I like his offensive instincts, but it’ll be a
while before the coaching staff feels confident giving him a regular shift on
defence. (Previous: N/A Average:
8.25 Aside from making me look
like an idiot with my comment for him last week, I’m a happy camper with 4
goals. Can he keep it up though? (Previous:
8.00 The drive to the net is
back for the first time since he was lighting it up with Koivu and D’Agostini. (Previous: 7.50 Average:
8.00 Still solid defensively
and creating chances at the other end; the only reason his grade dropped from
last week was the small decline in production. (Previous:
7.75 When you drive to the net
and the slot, good things happen. Hopefully he’s now realized this and
will do so more consistently. (Previous: 7.50 Average:
7.75 Complements Plekanec and
Kovalev well as he’s willing to work the boards and go into the high traffic
areas. Had a point in every game this week. (Previous:
7.75 This was the offensive
player we’ve been yearning to see all season. In the past though, playing
with his brother has only been a short-term fix, here’s hoping this bucks the
trend. (Previous: 6.75 Average:
7.50 He did score in 2 of the 3
games this week, but the tenacity that he had in weeks past wasn’t as evident
this go-round. (Previous: 7.75 Average:
7.50 His end to end rushes that
lead to turnovers are driving me nuts, but I’m happy to see the quick chemistry
with Pacioretty. (Previous: 7.00 Average:
7.50 I like his desire and the
fact he doesn’t back down. That being said, him continually losing fights
deflates the team, not pumps them up. (Previous:
7.00 I can’t say about thing
about his play, but his pre-play performance (a creative way to say faceoffs)
really needs some work (under 46% now). (Previous:
6.75 With the youngsters being
as successful as they’ve been, I’d be getting concerned about losing my spot in
the lineup. (Previous: 7.00 Average:
6.75 In his defence, a 4th line
energy player is not his strength, but he also hasn’t exactly been making a case
for more ice time lately either. (Previous:
Goaltending was only a negative factor in one
of the four games this week for Hamilton, and considering that their starter is
in Montreal and the backup was just coming off injury, that’s not that bad.
3 Stars: 1) Lehoux – HAM 2) Gainey – HAM 3) Jancevski –
3 Stars: 1) Lacasse – HAM 2) Latendresse – HAM 3) Trotter
3 Stars: 1) White – HAM 2) Lehoux – HAM 3) Fritsche – LEM
3 Stars: 1) Matthias – ROC 2) Murphy – ROC 3) Garrison –
A pair of players made their Hamilton debuts
this week and made their presence known immediately, as both Steve Gainey and
T.J. Kemp made their marks on the scoresheet.
Goals: Glumac (17)
Assists: Lehoux (25)
Points: Lehoux (37)
+/-: Belle (+18)
PIMS: Stewart (131)
January 14: Grand Rapids vs Hamilton
January 16: Lake Erie vs Hamilton
January 17: Hamilton vs Syracuse
In a week where debates rage on about whether
the Habs need more toughness, let’s take a look at one of their former tough
Francis Belanger was the 124th overall pick (5th round) in 1998, selected by
Philadelphia. He spent a pair of seasons in their minor league system,
splitting time in the AHL and ECHL, before joining the Habs during the 00-01
season. He played in 10 games for Montreal, amassing 29 penalty minutes
and no points before being re-assigned to Quebec, their AHL affiliate at the
time. He spent one more season with the Canadiens organization, though not
making it back with the Habs. The 02-03 season was the beginning of a long
journey that saw him play in 5 different leagues before retiring at the end of
Although he never made it as a successful NHL’er, that didn’t stop him from
being traded for some…sort of. The draft pick that was used to select
him was traded to Chicago for J.P. Dumont, and then to Philly for Hall-of-Famer
With the Habs on this roll they’ve been on as
of late, many wonder how they’re doing it, considering they’re missing their
starting goalie and a line that was their best early in the season. I
think there’s a pretty simple explanation to this.
Last year, the Habs were applauded for their hard work, energy, and the fact
they never gave up, but many felt they were lacking the talent to go all the
way. This offseason, that talent was brought in (Lang and Tanguay), and
through the first 6 weeks of the season, all we heard was, "We have the talent,
but…" Now, the team isn’t afforded that luxury anymore with so many
regulars out of the lineup, so they can’t rely on talent alone, they need to
work for it. And that’s exactly what they’ve done. Give credit where
credit’s due, to the coaching staff for getting the players motivated to work,
and to the veterans (including Kovalev, although anyone who feels there should
be a captain switch should get their head examined) for picking up the slack.
Hopefully what gets taken from this is that the team will continue to work, no
matter when the talent gets back. It’s only then that this team can be
taken to be a true contender.