HabsWorld.net -- 

In this week’s HW Recap: Which of Montreal’s
power forwards climbed to the top spot in the Player Rankings?  In
Hamilton, the Bulldogs managed to finally climb out of the league cellar after
winning 3 of 4.  Plus, my Final Thought looks at what type of deal the Habs
should be looking at next.

Player
Rankings

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) Erik Cole: This was arguably his
best all-around week.  His offensive game was strong while his physical
play didn’t let up.  It’s amazing what a legitimate power forward can do
for this team. (Prev: 3  Avg: 5.33)

2) Max Pacioretty: Speaking of power
forwards, this one didn’t have a bad week either.  He is starting to look
more comfortable along the boards, something that will only make his game
improve. (Prev: N/A  Avg:
3.88)

3) Carey Price: Yes, he struggled in the
shootout.  However, a .939 save percentage for the week is quite
impressive; it’s hard to pin either SO loss on him as without some key saves
(even in the Vancouver game), they wouldn’t have made it there. (Prev:
2  Avg: 4.00)

4) Josh Gorges: He logged even more
minutes than usual and helped shut down the opponents’ top lines yet again. 
His offensive game hasn’t been there lately but considering it’s a contract
year, I’m not too upset about that. (Prev: 5
 Avg: 7.00)

5) Tomas Plekanec: He seems to be back
to his usual quiet but productive style while still playing in a shutdown role. 
I have to wonder aloud how his offensive numbers would improve if the Habs had a
prototypical defensive C to take the pressure off him. (Prev:
7  Avg: 4.89)

6) Mike Cammalleri: He quietly had an
improved week, particularly in his effort level.  His lack of goals is
still worrisome but you have to think that has to end soon enough. (Prev:
8  Avg: 10.38)

7) P.K. Subban: To be honest, I’m not
entirely thrilled with his play.  However, he is logging some critical
minutes and has been relatively successful in what is essentially a shutdown
role so it’s hard to be all that tough on him. (Prev:
9
 Avg: 9.44)

8) Tomas Kaberle: He had a part in
every goal in New Jersey…and I mean every goal for either side. 
His poise with the puck was impressive, that alone will pay dividends over time. (Prev:
N/A  Avg: 8.00)

9) Andrei Kostitsyn: He had a decent
week although the one negative for him was that he was the only forward who
managed to have a minus rating in every game. (Prev:
1
 Avg: 6.29)

10) David Desharnais: Despite his
linemates scoring over half the goals, he didn’t get a single point.  On
the plus side, his faceoff play was very strong as he gets closer to last year’s
success rate. (Prev: 4  Avg:
8.75)

11) Brian Gionta: He was largely quiet
when he played but did score a crucial goal against Columbus that helped the
team net a point instead of going home with nothing. (Prev:
15  Avg: 9.44)

12) Raphael Diaz: One dumb penalty
aside, he had a steady week.  One would think scoring a goal would help his
chances of sticking around…although it didn’t for another blueliner. (Prev:
6  Avg: 12.56)

13) Alexei Emelin: He was having a
solid week before the game in New Jersey where he went back to looking
completely lost in the defensive end.  Having a new partner I’m sure had a
bit to do with that though. (Prev: 11  Avg:
12.00)

14) Frederic St. Denis: A goal wasn’t
enough to save his job although his play overall didn’t warrant keeping him up. 
He didn’t hurt his chances of a recall later on to his credit. (Prev:
18  Avg: 16.75)

15) Lars Eller: There were times where
he was easy to notice out there.  The rest of the time, he was largely
invisible.  His faceoff play was strong though. (Prev:
10  Avg: 7.67)

16) Hal Gill: For the amount of times
he’s flopping around and flailing his arms on the ice during the penalty kill, I
have to wonder if competitive swimming could have been an option for him back in
the day. (Prev: 12  Avg:
14.75)

17) Petteri Nokelainen: He keeps
winning at least as many draws as he’s losing each game.  He’s not the
specialist they hoped for but better than average is still useful. (Prev:
17  Avg: 17.14)

18) Mathieu Darche: He got a point. 
Let’s…just leave it at that to keep it positive. (Prev:
19  Avg: 16.44)

19) Travis Moen: He seems to have
forgotten what his actual role is supposed to be – a physical one.  A
single hit in three games is unacceptable for him. (Prev:
16  Avg: 11.67)

20) Louis Leblanc: This isn’t an
indictment of his play but rather noting that his style of play doesn’t work on
the lower lines.  He should be Hamilton-bound soon to allow someone more
equipped for that role to come up. (Prev: 13
 Avg: 16.50)

21) Yannick Weber: At least he’s
getting experience in being shuffled back and forth from forward to defence. 
No matter what, that will be more useful as the year progresses. (Prev:
20  Avg: 14.22)

The Dog
Pound

Having injured/recalled players return to the
lineup really can do wonders for a team.  The Bulldogs, with their
healthiest lineup in a long time, had their best week of the season.

Results:

December 6:

Hamilton 1, Adirondack 0 (OT)

December 9:


Toronto 2, Hamilton 1

December 10:

Hamilton 4, Syracuse 1

December 11:


Hamilton 2, Rochester 1

StatPack:

The offence continues to sputter
but the goaltending, aided by a healthier defence, did most of the damage for
the Bulldogs.

SKATERS


#

Player

GP

G

A

+/-

SH

PIMS
5 Alex Henry 4 0 0 +1 2 16
6 Joe Stejskal 4 0 0 -1 2 2
7 Joe Callahan 4 0 1 +1 5 2
10 Philip DeSimone 4 1 1 E 8 0
13 Zack FitzGerald 2 0 0 E 2 2
14 Michael Blunden 4 1 0 E 13 0
15 Phillipe Lefebvre 4 0 0 -1 7 0
16 Olivier Fortier 2 0 0 E 3 2
17 Mark Mitera 4 0 0 +1 5 0
18 Dany Masse 4 1 1 +2 7 6
21 Ian Schultz 4 0 0 E 7 10
22 Andreas Engqvist 4 1 0 +1 8 6
23 Joonas Nattinen 3 0 0 +1 4 2
24 Brian Willsie 2 0 1 +2 7 14
28 Aaron Palushaj 4 2 1 +2 13 6
32 Frederic St. Denis 2 0 2 E 5 4
40 Gabriel Dumont 4 1 1 -1 11 2
51 Mitch Wahl 3 0 1 +1 0 0
53 T.J. Fast 1 0 1 +1 0 0
55 Garrett Stafford 4 0 1 +3 3 2
67 Alexander Avtsin 4 1 0 +1 7 0

GOALIES


#

Player

Record

SV%

GAA
29 Robert Mayer 1-0-0 .978 1.00
52 Nathan Lawson 2-1-0 .962 0.99

Active Leaders:

Goals: Philip DeSimone (6)
Assists: Brian Willsie (11)
Points: Brian Willsie (14)
+/-: Andreas Engqvist (3)
PIMS: Zack FitzGerald (107) (T-League leader)
Shots: Brian Willsie (86)

Schedule:

December
14:
Lake Erie vs Hamilton
December 16:
Hamilton vs Abbotsford
December 18: Hamilton vs Abbotsford

Final
Thought

After the Tomas Kaberle acquisition, everyone
is now wondering what should be next on Pierre Gauthier’s wish list.  There
are some decent options out there, go for a defensive d-man to balance out
Kaberle and the near return of Chris Campoli.  Upgrading down the middle is
never a bad way to go.  However, I’m going in a different direction, one
that also is the most cap friendly with the limited space the Habs have to use
(Markov’s LTIR only works in the short-term).

The one common element these last few weeks is
that we’ve seen the likes of Palushaj, Leblanc, and at times, Weber playing on
the 4th line that is supposed to be the ‘energy trio.’  Those players can
provide a spark, but not in typical 4th line fashion.  As such, they have
been largely ineffective.  Thus, my next target would be to find a more
productive player to fit that mold.

The Habs have some options with which they can
upgrade.  They could try and get a banger, but given Jacques Martin’s
hesitation to use the likes of Blunden, the player would have to be the perfect
fit.  Or, more realistically, they could aim for more of a penalty kill
guy, someone who can give some of the top players an extra break here and there
while not hurting the team at full strength. 

As the Habs get healthier, the bigger needs
that exist presently may not be so prevalent which is why not only do I think
this is the way they should go with their next move but also the way they
will
go. 

If you have any questions/comments, please feel free to drop me a line at [email protected]