The Habs continued their strong play this week,
and now are on the verge of securing a playoff spot. Hamilton meanwhile
won both games against what will be their first round opponent, taking over
second in the division in the process. With the jockeying for positioning
in full effect, we look at the schedule moving forward, while the Final Thought
looks at what seems to be the most over-hyped player in recent memory.
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
Continued his solid play vs what was by far Montreal’s toughest opponent this
week; hopefully the flu doesn’t set him back yet again. (Previous:
A pair of relatively easy games vs weak teams, but at the very least, he should
have some confidence if called on before the end of the season. (Previous:
For the first time in quite a while, all of the pieces were put together – the
offense and the defence were on all week long. (Previous:
The offensive game was stronger than in recent weeks, hard to believe that early
in the season we were wondering if he was ever going to score period. (Previous:
Still not where he should be (based on expectations), but it’s starting to come
together, at a perfect time no less. (Previous:
Nothing wrong with the offensive game, but his defensive play made the old heart
beat a little quicker at times. (Previous:
Like Komisarek, this was a better week, but still a ways to go before he hits
his early season form. (Previous:
6.25 Average: 6.96)
Still bringing some good things to the lineup, managed to fit in rather
seamlessly on the top PP unit when Schneider went down. (Previous:
The highest individual grade of the season, and for good reason. My
only concern is that the shift lengths are slowly creeping up, he needs to get
out of that habit ASAP. (Previous: 9.00 Average:
Continues to provide that much needed secondary scoring while the 2nd line
tries to find where its hockey sense went. (Previous:
8.25 Winning the majority of
his draws and helping set up a few goals, a productive week from any 3rd liner. (Previous:
8.25 He may not be like Tomas
Holmstrom in terms of taking up space in front of the net on the PP, but you
can’t argue with the results. (Previous: 8.50 Average:
8.00 Despite that line being so
productive, he didn’t manage a single assist during the week – the obvious plus
side is that means he’s shooting more. (Previous:
Didn’t pick up a point despite his line’s offensive proficiency, but he was
still a key factor to its success. (Previous:
7.00 When he was moved up to
the Plekanec line, that unit improved. That must count for something. (Previous:
7.00 Still did all the little
things without his linemates, but certainly wasn’t as much a threat in the
offensive end. (Previous: 7.50 Average:
Three different games, three different roles, including dropping back to
defence the two games in which he was a forward. There were some
struggles, but considering the constant role reversal, he gets some leeway from
me. (Previous: 7.50 Average:
6.75 Extremely hard to grade based
on a few minutes of action; his line was doing nothing before he went down but
he wasn’t the main reason. (Previous: 6.50 Average:
6.50 Is he the new "Mr.
Inconsistency" now that Kovalev is shaking off that mantra? He needs to
get his line going and soon. (Previous:
6.50 He played double digit
minutes without pulling a groin, a season first. I’m impressed with his
ability to cycle the puck in the offensive end; it brings a new dimension to
that 4th line. (Previous: N/A Average:
6.25 I like the hustle and
intensity, but his skillset lends itself to roughly ECHL ability. Laraque
may be slower, but he can at least accomplish a couple of things with the puck. (Previous:
The benching was a long time coming; hopefully this can re-ignite his game
and bring back the offence from a few weeks back. (Previous:
With a pair of games against what will be their
first round opponent, the Bulldogs were successful in sending a message that
they can hold serve at home.
3 Stars: 1) Desharnais – HAM 2) Trotter – HAM 3) Glumac
3 Stars: 1) Russell – HAM 2) Atherton – GR 3) Lehous
David Desharnais led the way for the Bulldogs,
pulling within striking distance of the team lead in scoring – in his rookie
Goals: Glumac (31)
Assists: Lehoux (39)
Points: Lehoux (57)
+/-: Chipchura/Russell (+25)
PIMS: Stewart (170) (Active leader: Flinn – 120)
Manitoba vs Hamilton
Hamilton vs Grand Rapids
Hamilton vs Toronto
(End of regular season)
No, I don’t mean that it’s time for the Habs to
send out an S.O.S. signal as they’re now finally winning. Here, the
abbreviation stands for strength of schedule. With the battle for
positioning almost sure to continue until late next weekend, it’s worthwhile to
take a look at the remaining schedules for each of the teams in the
playoff/positioning races. Each team’s rating was based on adding up and
averaging the point percentage for each of their remaining opponents. Note
that Montreal’s rating is higher than any team that they’re trying to catch, so
moving up in the standings may be difficult from here on in.
|4||Philadelphia||95||vs FLA, @ NYR,
@ NYI, vs NYR
|5||Carolina||95||vs NYI, vs BUF, @ NJ||0.5273|
|6||Pittsburgh||93||@ TB, vs NYI, @
vs OTT, @ NYR, @ BOS, vs PIT
|8||NY Rangers||89||vs MTL, vs PHI,
|9||Florida||89||@ PHI, @ ATL, vs WSH||0.5783|
|10||Buffalo||85||vs DET, @ TOR,
@ CAR, vs BOS
With the Tampa Bay Lightning shutting down
Vincent Lecavalier for the rest of the season, many people begin to wonder if
he’s played his last game in Tampa and will soon be headed to Montreal. I
am not one of those people who are getting all giddy over the speculation of
whether it could happen or not. The reason really is twofold. We sit
less than a week from the end of the regular season with the Habs making a push
to solidify a playoff spot and yet there’s daily discussion about Vinny.
Even when the team was losing, Vinny. Early in the season? Vinny.
Trade deadline? Vinny. Pick almost any date of the season and the
answer’s the same. We hear more yammering about this guy than half the
players on the current roster, and that’s just not right.
The other reason is the actual on-ice play. Is he a high-end player and
legit #1 centre? Probably. Is he the second coming of the former Hab
who happens to wear the same number? Not even close, despite what the hype
machine stemming out of Montreal seems to generate. He has an albatross of
a contract (how does $70 million in actual salary over the next 7 years sound to
an owner with some cash issues?), and a full NMC to boot. He has a
whopping 2 seasons over a point-per-game in his 10-year career and a similar PPG
ratio as Saku Koivu (0.85 to 0.81), and lots of people want to run him out of
town. In the playoffs, the latter has a better PPG average, so how good is
Lecavalier in the clutch even?
Sure, he’s a good player and could help the team, but so could a lot of others.
Many feel it will take Andrei Markov as part of a package going back the other
way, and there’s a decent chance he’ll outscore Lecavalier this season – as a
defenceman! A bad contract, a wrist problem (which is why he was shut
down), but alas, he speaks French. How much of a premium do the Habs need
to pay for the verbal quality of the statement, "L’équipe joue un bon match ce
soir"? For those who read my rant a couple weeks back, you know my views
on this issue so I’ll refrain from getting into it again.
If the deal is right, of course you do it. But there’s a right time and
place for a deal, and 1 week before the beginning of the playoffs is hardly the
right time. And yet as we move forward, I’m certain that the talk will
once again swing back to Lecavalier, likely within 72 hours of this being posted
– not because of this article, but because it seems every few days there’s
something new to talk about with regards to him. How I’m not sure, but the
Montreal media has certainly been creative in the past when it comes to really
stretching stories/ideas, so I’m sure they can pull it off again. What
they really should be doing is focusing on the stretch drive and the Habs’ quest
to make the playoffs. Something tells me I better not hold my breath…
A note regarding next week’s recap – at
this time I can’t guarantee that it will be written as exams are forthcoming.
If it does not appear next week, the season wrap-up will appear in 2 weeks time.
If you’d like to drop me a line, please do so by
e-mailing me rather
than using the malfunctioning comment box below.