In this week’s HW Recap: Was the captain’s
scoring streak enough to move him to 1st in the Player Rankings? In
Hamilton, the Bulldogs continue to fight for a playoff spot despite not being
able to ice a full lineup. Looking at the numbers, are there any trends in
terms of faceoff success, while the Final Thought pulls a positive out of
Friday’s loss in New York.
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) Brian Gionta: The true leaders step
it up when things are tough, so what does Gionta do when the Habs are down to 9
regulars out? Scores in consecutive games, hard to beat that.
(Previous: 8 Average:
2) James Wisniewski: His game against the Rangers was a lot time coming,
he was getting all sorts of chances beforehand. Defensively, he also
stepped things up with all the other blueliners down.
(Previous: 7 Average:
3) Carey Price: Yes, he wasn’t at his best against New York but he was
the only reason the Habs were even close against Washington. Against Tampa
Bay, he made all the key saves too. Everyone deserves a mulligan now and
(Previous: 1 Average:
4) David Desharnais: It wasn’t the quantity of assists he had, but rather
the quality. Some of his moves were ones that we wouldn’t even expect from
some of the more veteran scorers. I’ve been hard on him at times this year
but I have to give credit here, he was very good.
(Previous: 17 Average:
5) Andrei Kostitsyn: Aside from Gionta, he was the only other forward
to score more than once. His play along the boards was also a lot stronger
than usual, forcing a couple of turnovers even if the statisticians didn’t give
him proper credit.
(Previous: 20 Average:
6) Alex Auld: He did everything he could to give the Habs a shot on
Friday after that horrific first period. Coming in cold like that, it’s
hard to ask for much more.
(Previous: N/A Average:
7) P.K. Subban: He continues to play well in whatever role is thrown at
him by the coaching staff, while his offence was a factor for the first time in
a while. However, the fact that he leads the NHL in minor penalties by a
d-man (3rd overall factoring in forwards) is something that will need to be
(Previous: 1 Average:
8) Roman Hamrlik: Yes, there were some times where he was blown by but
given the minutes he’s logging, it’s not entirely unexpected. Like Subban,
minor penalties are a notable concern for him as he sits tied for 4th amongst
all NHL defencemen.
(Previous: 1 Average:
9) Travis Moen: Although his scoring streak ended, he still has looked
okay on the scoring line, which is something that is rarely said about him
despite numerous opportunities.
(Previous: 5 Average:
10) Lars Eller: Though he struggled against New York, he was one of
Montreal’s better and more consistent forwards against Washington and Tampa Bay.
It’s nice to see he’s handling more minutes without too many problems.
(Previous: 2 Average:
11) Mike Cammalleri: Yes, he struggled notably. However, he did
score a shootout winner so I can’t drop him all the way down to where he
deserves to be based on his overall play.
(Previous: 9 Average:
12) Paul Mara: With him on the blueline, all of a sudden the Habs’
defence corps doesn’t look that weak in terms of toughness. He has looked
decent with the minute increase recently as well.
(Previous: 4 Average:
13) Scott Gomez: He had his ups and downs, some real good moments
were lessened by some poor ones in the defensive zone. With Plekanec out,
he’ll need to step it up.
(Previous: 12 Average:
14) Ryan White: No matter how much he hits, I still can’t get over
his skating. In order for him to have even the most marginal of impacts,
he needs to get better in that department.
(Previous: 14 Average:
15) Tomas Plekanec: No one really saw what injured him against
Washington. Heck, no one really saw him against the Caps as he was
having a quiet game before the injury.
(Previous: 3 Average:
16) Aaron Palushaj: All in all, not bad a couple of games for an
offensive minded winger stuck on the 4th line. He had a few scoring
chances, didn’t look out of place skating wise, though he struggled passing the
puck. Could be worse.
(Previous: N/A Average:
17) Nigel Dawes: Yes, he scored in the shootout but really didn’t do much
else out there. He plays with a lot of energy and doesn’t back down in the
corners which is good to see though.
(Previous: N/A Average:
18) Hal Gill: He looked a little slower than usual vs Washington, though
I’m guessing that the illness that has kept him out of the lineup for the last 2
games may have played a role in that.
(Previous: 15 Average:
19) Tom Pyatt: He’s like the antithesis of White at this point of the
year. He can’t hit but he can skate like the wind. If nothing else,
he can eat a couple extra minutes here and there given the injuries.
(Previous: 21 Average:
20) Jeff Halpern: A pretty quiet few minutes of work before his injury.
Nothing really more can be said here.
(Previous: 11 Average:
21) Alexandre Picard: As the trend seems to be, he does well after being
sat down (sat vs Washington, played against the Lightning). But, also as
the recent trend goes, he struggles mightily after being pressed into playing
(Previous: 13 Average:
22) Yannick Weber: If there was ever a better definition of a player who
has lost all confidence, I’d like to see it. He is tentative in all 3
zones and as a result, is getting beat far too often.
(Previous: 19 Average:
23) Benoit Pouliot: Perhaps Jacques Martin would be better suited picking
someone else to serve penalties when they have to send someone in.
Evidently, he’s getting much too comfortable in the box, as his late penalties
once again proved costly.
(Previous: 22 Average:
Despite using all of their options off the
Clear Day list plus one other player, there still aren’t enough players
available to ice a full squad. Suffice it to say, the offence has
With a patchwork team, someone
needs to step up. A few have, which resulted in Hamilton getting the win
in Rochester and nearly eking out a point in Abbotsford (the winner came with
less than a minute to play).
Goals: Nigel Dawes (33)
(Active leader: Dustin Boyd – 16)
Assists: David Desharnais (35)
(Active leader: Brendon Nash – 22)
Points: Nigel Dawes (54)
(Active leader: J.T. Wyman – 32)
+/-: Nash/Palushaj (+15)
PIMS: Jimmy Bonneau (164)
Shots: Nigel Dawes (169)
(Active leader: J.T. Wyman – 138)
March 25: Hamilton vs Rockford
March 26: Hamilton vs Chicago
March 27: Hamilton vs Peoria
Due to this edition of the HW Recap being
published earlier than normal, the Standings Synopsis section has been dropped
for the week. It will return next week as the Habs look like they’ll be
jostling for position basically to the end of the season.
Overall, the Habs sit 22nd in the NHL in terms of faceoff percentage at 49.6%.
However, going through the statlines when I write a 3 Stars piece after a game,
I’ve noticed a lot of nights where a certain player does either really well at
the dot, or really bad. Lately, I had noted that some of the good nights
were at home and the bad ones on the road. Was this an aberration or part
of a pattern?
Here are the faceoff percentages for the the Habs’ players who have taken at
least 100 draws this season, with splits of home and away.
|Player||Overall||Home||H +/-||Away||A +/-|
As you can see from the table, Plekanec and
Gomez see their success rate drop somewhat notably on the road. As they
take by far the most draws on the team, this is a concern. On the other
hand, we see Jeff Halpern is actually better on the road than at home.
I’ve been advocating this for a while and having seen this, will continue to;
assuming Plekanec and Halpern are paired together when both come back, it’s time
to let Halpern start taking more of the draws, especially on the road. A
nearly 12% difference between the two on the road can make a huge difference in
Yes, Friday’s loss in New York was a bit tough
to take, especially after being more or less manhandled in the first 20 minutes.
But by the time the game was done, I was more proud of the team than I figured.
Once the score hit 5-1 and Auld was in, I thought there was a shot that the
Rangers may hit double digits with the game practically out of reach and the
But as we’ve seen more often than not this year, Montreal rarely ever backs
down, and Friday was no exception. Although they ultimately didn’t win the
game, they were much better in the 2nd and 3rd periods and ultimately outscored
New York in that span. Given all the injuries though, I think the Habs can
take a positive out of that; they, despite being so shorthanded, know they can
bounce back even after a rough period. That type of mentality will be
crucial moving forward. With so many guys out, there will be rough patches
but even despite all that, the Habs, or Bulldogs as some are dubbing them, can
at the very least compete in each game from here on out, they’re not going to be
outclassed or outworked. Even in a loss, there can still be a silver
Note: The HW Recap will move back to its normal slot on Sundays starting
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