In this week’s HW Recap: A new leader atop the
Habs’ player rankings, while new scoring threats emerge in Hamilton’s offensive
explosion. Inside the Numbers takes a look at who’s best and worst at
drawing penalties to offset the ones they take while the Final Thought discusses
a way to completely overhaul the All-Star format for the better.
Players are rated from 1 to however many
players play on a weekly (non-cumulative) basis. Rankings will be tracked
weekly and averages provided.
1) P.K. Subban: Was ‘the celebration’
a little overdone? Perhaps, but the fact still remains that he scored the
key winning goal vs Calgary and was an impact player in every other game as
(Previous: 7 Average:
2) Carey Price: The only possible blemish on his week could be the
Anaheim game but even then he played fairly well. After some midseason
struggles, he looks like he’s back on track.
(Previous: 4 Average:
3) Tomas Plekanec: Just when he was rediscovering his chemistry with
Cammalleri, Cammalleri had to go get hurt. That didn’t change much for
Plekanec though who was near dominant in the games without his usual wingmate.
4) Scott Gomez: After a quiet effort the week prior, Gomez got back to
what he does best. He set up several goals (and numerous more chances),
rushed the puck well, and even looked for his own shot more often than not.
(Previous: 8 Average:
5) Andrei Kostitsyn: For the first time in a while, we saw ‘good
Kostitsyn,’ the player who hustles, gets into scoring areas, and actually scores
every now and then. A very strong week for someone who really needed a
(Previous: 14 Average:
6) Max Pacioretty: Simply put, he was terrific in the games after he was
hurt. The games before though, he looked as if he was tailing off a
little. Whatever happened, it got him going.
(Previous: 10 Average:
7) James Wisniewski: He’s playing way too much out there and it’s
starting to show in his play in the defensive zone. If he’s going to play
#1 minutes the rest of the way, I’d rather see him attack a little less to keep
him fresh for in-zone coverage.
(Previous: 3 Average:
8) Brian Gionta: It was a pretty quiet week for the captain on the
scoresheet but it wasn’t for a lack of effort and chances. If he gets that
many good looks in a normal week, he’ll usually bury a couple more.
(Previous: 12 Average:
9) David Desharnais: I’ve been tough on him relative to his NHL chances
in the past but he’s slowly starting to win me over. His case would be
helped much more with more reliable linemates but it’s still early.
(Previous: 9 Average:
10) Mike Cammalleri: He had a big game against his former team before a
double case of bad luck struck. It wasn’t bad enough to get injured
against Buffalo but to do so after missing basically a wide open net?
That’s a double whammy if I’ve ever seen one.
(Previous: 11 Average:
11) Mathieu Darche: If you look at the highlights, most of his goals
aren’t of the highlight reel variety, they just consist of being in the right
place and doing the right things. Good enough for me.
(Previous: 2 Average:
12) Benoit Pouliot: Looked solid in both games he played after missing
the first pair after coming down with the flu. If he can keep this up from
Desharnais’ line, the Habs’ attack will be a lot deeper.
(Previous: 6 Average:
13) Roman Hamrlik: He had a pretty good week overall but it seemed as if
whenever he made a mistake, it came back to hurt the team which drops him a
(Previous: 13 Average:
14) Jeff Halpern: I thought he had a terrific game against Calgary but
like too many others in Buffalo, saw his momentum derailed by an injury.
He should be ready for Tuesday, fortunately.
(Previous: 16 Average:
15) Lars Eller: Finally got a goal for the first time in way too long.
Unfortunately, he seemed to be back in the doghouse by the end of the week.
(Previous: 20 Average:
16) Andreas Engqvist: Came exactly as advertised – good defensively,
decent on the draw, can’t skate too well and has little offensive instincts.
As a 4th liner, he fared pretty well.
(Previous: N/A Average:
17) Hal Gill: The PK struggled notably which falls on his shoulders
somewhat. On the plus side, Subban has been much better since pairing with
him so I’d hesitate before changing the pairings.
(Previous: 15 Average:
18) Yannick Weber: He’s at his best in the offensive zone, which isn’t
really a good thing for a young defenceman. If/when he can straighten
things out defensively, then he’ll be able to play a bigger role.
(Previous: 20 Average:
19) Ryan White: Yes, he hit and he fought but beyond that, he looked
completely lost out there at times. I now see why he’s struggling so badly
in the minors, he has taken a big step back in his development.
(Previous: N/A Average:
20) Jaroslav Spacek: He has been decent at times in limited minutes but
he needs to have a bigger positive impact on this team. A near $4M d-man
should not be playing the lowest ice time.
(Previous: 19 Average:
21) Travis Moen: If it weren’t for the fact that the Flyers are the next
matchup, I’d be advocating he sits the next game. He can’t/won’t hit and
that’s one of the main reasons he’s on this team. Averaging below 1.5 hits
per game isn’t good enough for him.
(Previous: 17 Average:
22) Alex Auld: Yes, a couple of the goals he allowed weren’t entirely his
fault but when you blow a 4-goal lead in less than a period, a lot of that has
to fall on the goalie.
(Previous: 5 Average:
23) Tom Pyatt: When AHL callups take your place in the lineup, your hold
on an NHL spot becomes even more tenuous. He has to do something to make
an impact fast, or he, like Dustin Boyd earlier, may be doing so from Hamilton.
(Previous: 21 Average:
Despite barely having enough healthy bodies to
ice a full roster, the Bulldogs kept on rolling by winning all 3 of their games
and extending their winning streak to 5.
3 Stars: 1) Russell – HAM 2) St. Denis – HAM 3) Palushaj – HAM
3 Stars: 1) Nash – HAM 2) Maxwell – HAM 3) Klubertanz – HAM
3 Stars: 1) Palushaj – HAM 2) Wellwood – ADI 3) Testwuide
Apparently dressing 8 defencemen is key to
offensive success, as the Bulldogs displayed in their final two games of the
|32||Frederic St. Denis||3||1||2||+3||4||2|
Goals: Max Pacioretty (17)
(Active leader: J.T. Wyman – 12)
Assists: David Desharnais (35)
(Active leader: Ben Maxwell – 22)
Points: David Desharnais (45)
(Active leader: Ben Maxwell – 31)
+/-: Mathieu Carle/David Desharnais (+14)
PIMS: Jimmy Bonneau (104)
Shots: Max Pacioretty (132)
(Active leader: Ben Maxwell – 105)
January 26: Manitoba vs Hamilton
January 27: Lake Erie vs Hamilton
January 29: Hamilton vs Lake Erie
With the Habs being a whopping 4th place terms
in minor penalties taken, I thought it’d be worthwhile to see who is at least
making up for that by drawing infractions on the opponent as well. It’s
one thing to take too many penalties, but if you’re drawing that many or more,
you’re doing your job to some degree at least. Here are the results:
Note: All figures are on a per-60 minute basis at even strength only,
courtesy of Behind the Net.
Interestingly enough, I can’t help but wonder
if Eller’s presence at the bottom of this list is why he often rides pine late
in games. On the flip side, it might also help explain Pyatt’s repeated
presence in the lineup; not only does he kill penalties, he draws quite a few as
well. In Subban’s case, though he takes a lot of penalties, he makes up
for it by drawing just as many.
With the NHL’s All Star Game set for next week
and there being all sorts of talks on the changes and suggestions for future
years, I thought I’d weigh in with my 2 cents. First off, kudos to Brendan
Shanahan for at least generating a little buzz about the game with the fantasy
draft. Sadly, that doesn’t change the game itself but at least the draft
should be interesting. The idea I’ve been pondering doesn’t have the
draft, but it also doesn’t have just an All Star Game…and no, my idea isn’t to
scrap the event altogether although that too wouldn’t be a terrible one.
It’s an outside the box idea, but here it is.
Basically, I would suggest a mini tournament of sorts for All-Star weekend.
6 teams, 10 players each, with each division comprising a team. Each NHL
squad sends 2 players (so equal representation for every hockey market); each
division team has 8 skaters and 2 goalies, selected by the coaches of each
division. Games obviously would be played 4 on 4 so there’s enough skaters
for 2 full lines.
As for how the tournament plays out. Saturday is the conference
round-robin. Each division plays the other two from their own conference
in 10 minute games. I’d prefer more time per game but it’s not realistic.
The top-2 from each conference then move onto the semi-finals to be played on
the Sunday. Each semi-final would be a 20 minute period (or two 10 minute
ones) with the winners moving onto the final.
I, like many others, have always believed that if there was something at stake,
the games would at least be mildly competitive. Sadly, divisional bragging
rights probably aren’t enough so securing a title sponsor willing to put a cash
sum up would help the cause. As for the final itself, this would be
a 30 minute game, comprised of two 15 minute halves. The winner gets the
prize and the bragging rights.
The games as they’re structured would mean that the most any team would play is
a total of 70 minutes, just 10 more than the actual All-Star Game itself.
Granted, a drawback is that with only 8 skaters, the players would be playing
more than usual. But, since there generally isn’t much effort and hustle
anyways, that concern is mitigated somewhat.
To me, the best thing behind this is what happens with the fans. First
off, for those attending, more players means more autograph and photo
opportunities, media access, etc. Greater interaction is something the NHL
always claims it’s striving for. But that’s not the best part, fans by
cheering on their players are also cheering often for their arch rivals.
Fans cheering for the 2 Hab representatives to move on also have to cheer on
Toronto and Boston players. If you’re going for a unique experience, that
would be a way to go, a feeling most fans may only be able to stomach for 2 days
Is the idea plausible? Maybe, it would take some persuasion to have that
many extra players going and to basically drag more coaches, referees, etc to
the hosting venue. I certainly think it’d be more intriguing than simply
one 60 minute scrimmage with a lacrosse score at the end. This is fan
friendly, TV friendly (lots of time for interviews), and since it’s all the rage
this year, it’s just different. I’d be interested in tuning in to see this
tournament, would you?
If you have any questions regarding
this article or the
please feel free to drop me a line at
[email protected] or through
the comment box below.
Note: Since the Habs just have 1 game this week, the HW Recap will take a
1-week vacation. The following week, Montreal plays on both the Saturday
and Sunday so the Recap will return on Monday, February 7th.