In this week’s HW Recap: Final player grades
for the Habs’ defencemen and goalies plus the latest stats from Hamilton’s
playoff run. Even strength production was a weakness for the Habs this
season but who was the best at producing in that situation? Plus, the top
stories of the season in the Final Thought, did the playoff run crack the top-3?
As the Habs are now finished for the season,
I’m going to use the section normally reserved for the weekly Player Rankings to
give my grades for the season. This week, the goalies and defencemen.
Carey Price: A+
He was the player with the most pressure on him all season and he delivered the
best performances more or less on a night in, night out basis. In the
process, he managed to eliminate a lot of the debate about which was the right
goalie to keep after last season. In the playoffs, he wasn’t quite as
sharp but still played relatively well, especially in the first two games in
Season: 38-28-6, 2.35 GAA, .923 SV%, 8 SO
Playoffs: 3-1-3, 2.11 GAA, .934 SV%, 1 SO
Alex Auld: C All in all, it’s hard to
say he didn’t do his job. He finished the season over .500 (albeit playing
largely against weak opponents), didn’t complain about playing time, while
having good camaraderie with Price. It’s far from a certainty but I
wouldn’t be too surprised if he gets another contract for next season.
Season: 6-2-2, 2.65 GAA, .914 SV%, 0 SO
A It was a little rough at the beginning
when he needed to be sat down to try and work some of the bad habits out of his
game but it was worth it in the end. Come playoff time, you’d be hard
pressed to find anyone who felt he wasn’t the Habs’ #1 D, quite the compliment
for a rookie. Becoming more disciplined will go a long way towards making
him even better.
Season: 77 GP, 14-24-38, -8, 124 PIMS
Playoffs: 7 GP, 2-2-4, -2, 2 PIMS
James Wisniewski: A- In the end,
David Fischer wound up being useful to the Habs after all as it was his
compensatory pick (plus a 5th next year) that was used to acquire the American
blueliner. Wisniewski immediately provided another threat on the
powerplay, something the Habs desperately needed. He tailed off a bit at
the end of the season (no goals in his final 16 games including playoffs), it
will be interesting to see if that affects his next contract.
Season: 75 GP, 10-41-51, -14, 38 PIMS (43 GP, 7-23-30, +4, 20 PIMS with
Playoffs: 7 GP, 0-2-2, -3, 7 PIMS
Roman Hamrlik: B- Yes, he ran out of gas
late in the year and the Habs paid for it in the playoffs. But think back
to the season where despite being 36 years old (now 37 by the way), he led the
entire team in total ice time, playing just over 1,760 minutes which put him
46th in the league. A lot of those minutes were productive too, as he put
up his best offensive numbers since his final year in Calgary back in 2007.
Season: 79 GP, 5-29-34, +6, 81 PIMS
Playoffs: 7 GP, 0-3-3, -1, 6 PIMS
Josh Gorges: B- Prior to his injury, he
was having another quiet but effective season vastly improving his blocks per
game ratio. There were times that he looked uncomfortable skating out
there, though that’s understandable given the fact he had been playing without
an ACL for so long. Having had surgery now, it’s hard not to wonder if
he’ll have another gear we haven’t seen from him come next season.
Season: 36 GP, 1-6-7, -3, 18 PIMS
Hal Gill: C+ The towering blueliner had
another of his typical years, very little offence but a lot of blocked shots and
general strong defensive play. The fact that more than one other Montreal
defenceman has publicly campaigned to see him re-signed suggests he was a good
player to have around in the locker room as well. In the playoffs, he only
had a minus rating in one of the seven games.
Season: 75 GP, 2-7-9, -9, 43 PIMS
Playoffs: 7 GP, 0-0-0, -1, 2 PIMS
C He was well worth the 5th round pick it
took to re-acquire him as he instantly brought something the organization sorely
lacked, a physical presence, not to mention an actual healthy body. His
offensive days are long behind him but he showed he can still help a team.
Season: 53 GP, 1-5-6, +1, 88 PIMS (20 GP, 0-4-4, +2, 48 PIMS with Montreal)
Playoffs: 1 GP, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIMS
Yannick Weber: C It was an
up-and-down season overall for him. At times, he looked like a good 3rd
pairing player but at others, he struggled to get through period-by-period.
All in all, he more or less cemented what a lot of us figured at the beginning
of the year, he should be a decent 3rd pairing player that can play the
Season: 41 GP, 1-10-11, E, 14 PIMS
Playoffs: 3 GP, 2-0-2, +1, 0 PIMS
Alexandre Picard: C The only
criticism I really had of him was his inability to play reasonably well for
consecutive games. Fortunately, as a reserve defenceman, he didn’t have to
play consecutive games all that often. It is somewhat easy to understand
why so many teams have let him go already, he’s nothing more than a depth
Season: 43 GP, 3-5-8, E, 17 PIMS
Brent Sopel: D+ He was brought in to
add depth and stabilize the 3rd pairing. He achieved the first goal but
not so much the 2nd as he wasn’t able to log more minutes than the others who
frequented that pairing. In the playoffs he was a little better but again,
couldn’t log enough minutes to give the worn out blueliners some rest.
Season: 71 GP, 2-5-7, +6, 16 PIMS (12 GP, 0-0-0, -1, 6 PIMS with Montreal)
Playoffs: 7 GP, 1-0-1, -2, 2 PIMS
Jaroslav Spacek: D+ Statistically
speaking, it wasn’t that bad of a season compared to last but there’s a reason
why stats don’t tell the whole story. He managed to get even slower which
often made him a liability in his own end, a trend that continued into the
playoffs. As far as bad contracts go, it’s far from the worst out there
but the Habs would be wise to see if there is another team that thinks they can
get him going better.
Season: 59 GP, 1-15-16, +9, 45 PIMS
Playoffs: 7 GP, 0-0-0, -3, 4 PIMS
N/A Andrei Markov and Brendon Nash (not
So far, the 2nd round has been a carbon copy of
the 1st for Hamilton. After winning two at home, they then lost the next
two on the road before winning Game 5, also on the road. At the time of
writing, Game 6 was underway; stats from that game will be included in next
week’s HW Recap.
Hamilton’s top line has largely
been shut down and to their credit, the rest of the forwards have chipped in
here and there, particularly someone who just joined the team.
|32||Frederic St. Denis||3||0||2||+4||4||2|
Goals: Nigel Dawes (8)
Assists: Kyle Klubertanz (8)
Points: Nigel Dawes (13)
+/-: 3 players tied with (+5)
PIMS: Alex Henry (28)
Shots: Nigel Dawes (40)
May 8: Game 6 in Hamilton
May 9: Game 7 in Hamilton*
* – if necessary
If Hamilton wins the series, this will be edited once the 3rd round schedule
Montreal’s ECHL affiliate, the Wheeling Nailers,
trail the Kalamazoo Wings 3 games to 2 in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Game 6 goes Tuesday while if necessary, Game 7 the following night; both games
are in Kalamazoo.
With all the talk of how the Habs were a
powerplay team this season (and it wasn’t all talk as it was somewhat accurate),
I thought it would be interesting to see which players lived off the man
advantage by comparing total points to even strength points (ESP). Here
are the results:
In terms of an evaluation point, I set the ESP%
mark at 70%. The first name that jumps out at me from the list is Gionta
who had just 13 points that weren’t at even strength. For the amount of
time he spent on the PP, I expected to see him with fewer ESP’s and more PPP’s.
Spacek and his 75% ESP ratio shows that he isn’t bringing much to the powerplay
which is one of the main reasons he was brought in two seasons ago. On the
flip side, Gomez nearly had half of his points with the man advantage.
That could serve as more ammunition for those who want to see his 5-on-5 time
cut down next season.
As promised last week, here are my top 3
storylines from this past season:
1) Price speaks up, steps up: This one started right at the beginning of
the preseason where fans inexplicably jumped on him one period in. He said
he’d be better when it mattered and as I went into earlier, he was. He put
the pressure on himself (when it was already there in a big way) and simply got
the job done.
2) Subban emerges: A lot of people had high expectations for him and to
say the least, he likely exceeded most of them. He had his rough patches
but mostly learned from his mistakes. He is the most exciting prospect (of
skaters at least) that the Habs have seen in a long time and the best is yet to
come. It just makes the wait for next season that much longer.
3) No quit: Most of the team was injured at some point, we saw numerous
minor leaguers come up just to ice a barely healthy squad or saw trades made to
add some depth. Despite it all, the Habs for the most part didn’t really
change as a team, the usual highs and lows were there. To me, that says a
lot about the character. Lots of reasons to quit but in the end, the Habs
wound up making the playoffs and making at least a little noise, finishing among
the final 10 teams for the second straight year. If you’re going to go
down, go down fighting which is what this team did.
If you have any questions/comments, please feel free to drop me a line at [email protected]