In this week’s HW Recap: Taking a closer look
at the Habs’ 1st round, with the weekly player rankings, plus keys to success
and a discussion on possible lineup changes. The Bulldogs also are up 2-0
in their series, inside is the weekly StatPack plus the latest on the next two
players to enter Hamilton’s ever-growing infirmary.
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) Carey Price: Heading into the
series, everyone from the fans, to the media, to the players knew that he would
need to be at the top of his game. A 0.50 GAA suggests he is doing exactly
(Previous: 3 Playoffs:
2) P.K. Subban: It’s not often I put a player who didn’t manage a single
point (aside from a goalie) this high but he’s earned it. His poise with
the puck has been terrific and he has done quite well balancing when to be
aggressive and when to sit back. Getting under several players’ skins
doesn’t hurt either.
(Previous: 4 Playoffs:
3) Brian Gionta: At the end of Game 1, he was the only player on either
team to have a goal. That’s about as good a start to the playoffs as you
can really ask from any forward.
(Previous: 1 Playoffs:
4) Mike Cammalleri: Though he was a little quiet on Thursday, he was the
Habs’ best skater in Game 2. Even his defensive play (even getting some PK
shifts) was impressive.
(Previous: 2 Playoffs:
5) Tomas Plekanec: Although I’m a little worried with how many scoring
chances he has missed on, you can’t argue with the fact the line he was checking
against didn’t score while he was out there and that his PK performance was
(Previous: 7 Playoffs:
6) Scott Gomez: This is more of the Gomez we saw for most of last season,
good offensively with the odd defensive lapse (sadly his biggest one directly
contributed to the Boston goal). The positives certainly outweighed the
(Previous: 8 Playoffs:
7) Ryan White: 7 hits in roughly 9 minutes (as he did in Game 1) is
impressive in any game, even more so when it’s his playoff debut. He isn’t
doing anything offensively but his physical play alone is making him quite
useful so far.
(Previous: 14 Playoffs:
8) Tom Pyatt: He was particularly strong on the forecheck, simply keeping
plays alive or eating up time on the clock. Couple that with his PK
efficiency and you come up with one of Pyatt’s best weeks of the season.
(Previous: 13 Playoffs:
9) Yannick Weber: He gets thrown in the lineup last second and pots his
second career playoff goal in just four games, while not playing his regular
position. That’s making the most of a bad situation.
(Previous: 18 Playoffs:
10) Lars Eller: Maybe the Bruins bring out the best in him as for two
straight games, we saw the consistently good Eller instead of the inconsistent,
streaky one. A very encouraging playoff debut.
(Previous: 19 Playoffs:
11) Brent Sopel: I give him full credit for saving a couple of sure goals
and blocking a few other shots. However, I drop him down as in a few of
those instances, it was a mistake he made that kept the puck in the defensive
zone, ultimately forcing him to bail himself out.
(Previous: 11 Playoffs:
12) Andrei Kostitsyn: He didn’t play all that much but he certainly made
the most of when he played between his lower body injury. After last
season’s struggles in the playoffs, this was a good step forward, aside from
having to miss Game 2 (and maybe more).
(Previous: 5 Playoffs:
13) James Wisniewski: Generally, I’m happy with his offence and not his
defence. This time though, it’s the opposite. He has so good of a
shot but doesn’t seem to be trying to utilize it much. I’m not trying to
start a rumour but I can’t help but wonder if he could be banged up, which could
explain his offensive hesitance, particularly in terms of shooting.
(Previous: 6 Playoffs:
14) Mathieu Darche: Yes, he scored what proved to be the winner in Game 2
but that was about the only time I really noticed him as his linemates made most
of the noise. Certainly not a bad pair of games by any stretch, just quiet
(Previous: 10 Playoffs:
15) Hal Gill: Same old, same old with him, as he was barely noticeable
but didn’t make any mistakes. For Gill, that’s about as good a week as you
can ask for given his role.
(Previous: 20 Playoffs:
16) Roman Hamrlik: With the matchup battles between the coaches (the Habs
wanted Gill/Subban against the B’s top line while Claude Julien tried to get
Spacek/Sopel against them), he almost seemed like the odd man out. He
didn’t play bad by any means but in terms of impact, this was one of the quieter
weeks he had all year.
(Previous: 12 Playoffs:
17) Travis Moen: He is winning the physical battles along the boards but
isn’t doing much to help offensively. Considering he is on what’s supposed
to be a scoring line (though the strength so far has been the defence), I have
to drop him down a few spots.
(Previous: 21 Playoffs:
18) Jaroslav Spacek: His minutes are being limited and he’s making the
most of them. Don’t construe being this low as having a bad week, it’s
just that few Habs played poorly.
(Previous: 17 Playoffs:
19) David Desharnais: His play on the penalty kill is pretty good but
offensively, he isn’t generating much of anything out there. 11 games and
counting on the pointless drought, he’ll need to get that side of his game going
(Previous: 16 Playoffs:
20) Benoit Pouliot: His offensive drought continues although he isn’t
playing all that bad. On the positive side, he didn’t take any dumb
(Previous: 22 Playoffs:
So far, so good for the Bulldogs as they held
serve at home in their first round series against Edmonton’s affiliate, the
Oklahoma City Barons.
It was a well balanced attack
through the two games although one of the scorers (Fortier) is now out
indefinitely after being injured in the first game of the series. Also
injured in Game 1 is Petruic who is day-to-day.
|32||Frederic St. Denis||2||0||1||E||6||0|
Goals: Nigel Dawes (2)
Assists: Engqvist/Klubertanz/Wyman (2)
Points: Nigel Dawes/Andreas Engqvist (3)
+/-: 4 tied with (+2)
PIMS: Alex Henry (4)
Shots: Nigel Dawes (8)
Here is the remaining Round 1 schedule vs
Oklahoma City. Games 3-5 are in Oklahoma City, 6 and 7 in Hamilton.
Game 3: April 19
Game 4: April 20
Game 5: April 22
Game 6: April 24
Game 7: April 25
So far, there hasn’t been a whole lot to
complain about in the Habs-Bruins series so instead I’ll pose a couple of
questions to ponder. When does Paul Mara get a game and who comes out when
Jeff Halpern’s ready to come back?
For the first one, I’d honestly break up the
winning lineup and give Spacek Game 3 off. It’s not that Spacek is playing
bad but in the playoffs, I’d want to avoid guys sitting as healthy scratches
regularly. Mara brings a physical element to the lineup and seeing as how
Boston upped the hitting ante for Game 2, it’s reasonable to expect them to do
so again. In that instance, Mara could be useful. His ice time is
also similar to what Spacek has been playing recently so it’s not as if he’s
stepping into an unfamiliar role either. Even though there are
superstitions when it comes to changing a winning lineup, it wouldn’t hurt to be
proactive with getting Mara a game.
As for Halpern, my answer, though surely
unpopular, is Desharnais right now. If his most notable contribution to
the lineup is his play on the penalty kill, you’re better off with Halpern in
there as he can do that while bringing some veteran poise. I wouldn’t sit
Desharnais indefinitely but in terms of getting Halpern back in while playing C
(which is critical), he is the weakest of the 4 centre links right now. A
game or two off to take a mental break would also probably be beneficial for
Desharnais given his offensive struggles over the last several weeks.
Continuing on with talk about the playoffs,
here are my 3 keys to continued success in this series for the Habs:
1) Two scoring lines: If both the Gomez and Plekanec lines can at least provide
some sort of offensive attack, Montreal should be in good shape. One of
the more glaring problems during the season was that when one line was on, the
other usually wasn’t.
2) Keep the pressure on: Any time a team is trailing in the series, any goal (or
even a momentum swing) just makes the comeback situation seem that much more
perilous. Playing passive as the Habs have been known to do at times this
year will give the Bruins a pretty good chance to take Game 3 and get back into
3) Discipline: So far, Boston’s powerplay has been rendered largely ineffective.
But with the personnel they have, it probably won’t stay asleep forever.
Limiting their opportunities to get that part of their game going will be quite
important to quell any potential momentum.