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In this week’s HW Recap: The Habs got back on
track with a pair of wins; was Lars Eller’s 5-point effort enough to land him
top spot in this week’s rankings?  In Hamilton, a pair of familiar faces
led the charge as the Bulldogs now find themselves within striking distance of a
playoff spot.  Having had some time now to reflect on the deal, my Final
Thought assesses whether or not the Josh Gorges contract was an overpayment.

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) Lars Eller: Of all the weeks in the
season so far, this top ranking should probably come as the least surprising. 
Five points in a single game, nothing more needs to be said. (Prev:
5  Avg: 7.31)

2) Andrei Kostitsyn: He had a large part
to do with Eller’s success which he deserves credit for.  So far, he has
done better with getting more ice time, something we haven’t seen from him in
the past. (Prev: 17  Avg:
6.91)

3) Alexei Emelin: His best week of the
year in terms of positional play.  That coupled with some strong hits earns
him his best ranking of the season. (Prev: 8
 Avg: 12.18)

4) Travis Moen: His offensive outburst
continued with a trio of assists in the Winnipeg game.  As much as most of
the credit went to Kostitsyn and Eller for that lines’ success, he did some of
the dirty work to create space for them. (Prev: 7
 Avg: 11.38)

5) Max Pacioretty: His game against
Tampa Bay was a nice bounce back.  There’s no denying he’s tired which is
something that will likely present itself a few more times down the stretch. (Prev:
14  Avg: 5.50)

6) Erik Cole: He played a little too
much between the two games but still put up some solid numbers.  Right now,
he is ‘Mr. Consistent’ week in and week out. (Prev:
2
 Avg: 4.77)

7) Carey Price: Although overshadowed
by Eller, Price had a good game against the Jets and shut down Tampa Bay on the
weekend.  You have to believe he’ll get a rest soon though. (Prev:
9  Avg: 4.92)

8) David Desharnais: Quietly picked up
points in each game while a pair of good games at the dot have him creeping ever
so close to hitting the 50% mark on the draw (310/621 this season). (Prev:
4  Avg: 8.54)

9) Josh Gorges: It was a pretty quiet
couple of games although he did manage to celebrate his new contract in style
(scoring just his second goal of the year). (Prev:
12
 Avg: 7.92)

10) Mike Cammalleri: The fact he
missed both game day skates suggests to me he’s playing through some sort of
injury.  He scored in one of the games so he seems to be doing okay despite
whatever the issue is. (Prev: 3  Avg:
10.25)

11) Michael Blunden: People have
talked about several players who have benefited most from the coaching change
but Blunden never gets mentioned.  He should as he’s seeing more minutes,
accomplishing more, and this week, even scoring a goal. (Prev:
16  Avg: 15.86)

12) P.K. Subban: He wasn’t wandering
around as much as he had in recent weeks.  I’m hopeful that the proverbial
light bulb has gone on with respect to the defensive zone. (Prev:
6  Avg: 9.23)

13) Tomas Kaberle: It was nice to see
him get a goal but all in all, it wasn’t his best week, particularly in the
defensive end.  As long as the team is rolling seven defencemen, his
offensive numbers are bound to drop. (Prev: 11
 Avg: 10.80)

14) Brian Gionta: It wasn’t the most
electrifying of returns for the Habs’ captain but I’ll cut him a bit of slack
considering he probably isn’t in game shape having missed a lot of time. (Prev:
N/A  Avg: 9.90)

15) Tomas Plekanec: I was hoping the
little kerfluffle with Subban would have woke him up but it seemed to have
little effect.  That’s not all bad (it could’ve made him pout and struggle
more) but there’s no denying he needs to be better. (Prev:
15  Avg: 6.92)

16) Raphael Diaz: Every time he has a
breakout week, his next one is a lot more pedestrian.  Such is life with a
rookie I suppose. (Prev: 1  Avg:
11.77)

17) Mathieu Darche: It was a decent
week for him, he picked up a secondary assist and didn’t make any glaring
mistakes when he was out there. (Prev: 10  Avg:
15.23)

18) Hal Gill: I like the role he’s in
right now, primarily a PK and 3rd period defensive specialist.  However,
that will limit his chance of doing a whole lot for the team. (Prev:
18  Avg: 14.00)

19) Chris Campoli: Given his
conditioning level, his role (de facto #7 with second unit PP time) is
appropriate.  He’s not doing much of anything which is sadly better than
before where he was really hurting the team with untimely giveaways. (Prev:
N/A  Avg:
19.33
)

20) Petteri Nokelainen: As Gionta has
shown he can take faceoffs when necessary, that really limits Nokelainen’s role
as a right handed faceoff guy.  As players return, he may soon be hitting
the waiver wire if current trends continue. (Prev:
20
 Avg: 17.91)

The Dog
Pound

The week had the potential to go wrong in a lot
of ways for the Bulldogs.  Their starting goalie went down in the first
game so they were forced to dress a local men’s league goalie, a cut of the
Boston Bruins 20 years ago, as backup.  They had to play three games in as
many days and to top things off, they had to face a division leader and the
league leaders in back-to-back days.  Despite all that, they won every game
and are now just mere points out of a playoff spot.

Results:

January 6:

Hamilton 5, Syracuse 2

January 7:


Hamilton 4, Toronto 1

January 8:


Hamilton 3, Oklahoma City 1

StatPack:

It was the ‘dynamic duo’ that had
spent a good chunk of the season in Montreal that provided most of Hamilton’s
offence.

SKATERS


#

Player

GP

G

A

+/-

SH

PIMS
5 Alex Henry 3 0 0 +2 2 4
7 Joe Callahan 3 0 0 +2 4 2
10 Philip DeSimone 3 0 1 E 4 0
13 Zack FitzGerald 3 1 1 +2 3 12
15 Phillipe Lefebvre 3 0 1 -1 2 0
17 Mark Mitera 3 0 0 -1 2 2
18 Dany Masse 3 0 0 -2 3 0
20 Louis Leblanc 3 1 0 +1 11 2
21 Ian Schultz 3 0 1 +1 3 5
22 Andreas Engqvist 3 3 3 +5 12 0
24 Brian Willsie 3 2 1 E 12 4
28 Aaron Palushaj 3 3 4 +6 12 4
32 Frederic St. Denis 3 0 0 +3 11 0
40 Gabriel Dumont 3 1 0 E 6 4
51 Mitch Wahl 3 0 1 +2 2 0
53 T.J. Fast 3 0 0 -2 0 0
55 Garrett Stafford 3 0 4 +3 4 0
67 Alexander Avtsin 3 1 1 +2 5 2

GOALIES


#

Player

Record

SV%

GAA
29 Robert Mayer 2-0-0 .953 1.36
52 Nathan Lawson 1-0-0 .968 1.27

Active Leaders:

Goals: Andreas Engqvist (12)
Assists: Palushaj/Willsie (14)
Points: Aaron Palushaj (23)
+/-: Andreas Engqvist (+11)
PIMS: Zack FitzGerald (134)
Shots: Brian Willsie (137)

Schedule:

January 13: Hamilton vs Adirondack
January 14: Hamilton vs Rochester
January 15: Toronto vs Hamilton

Final
Thought

The Josh Gorges contract is the first item of
the new year that has fans getting into debates.  Although no one is upset
he’s sticking around, there are some that are concerned that the contract is too
pricey.  Back in June, I
predicted
a range
of $2.85-3.15 million on a multi-year deal had he signed in the
offseason.  At $3.9, it appears I was under although he did show in that
time that his knee is healthy which does change things a little.  Is the
deal an overpayment though?  Let’s look at some of the dollar value
comparables in similar situations (signing a year before or during their UFA time).

Brad Stuart, $3.75 million and 4 years with
Detroit (2008) – Very similar style of play and production although more of a
veteran player than Gorges age wise.

Francois Beauchemin, $3.8 million and 3 years
with Toronto (2009) – Similar offensive production, Gorges blocks more shots,
Beauchemin plays more physical.

Zbynek Michalek, $4 million and 5 years with
Pittsburgh (2010) – One of the better kept secrets while in Phoenix, he’s a low
offence, shot blocking machine.  That scouting report sounds similar to Gorges.

Anton Volchenkov, $4.25 million and 6 years
with New Jersey (2010) – Another of the premier shot blockers who brings little
offence to the table.

Eric Brewer, $3.85 million and 4 years with
Tampa Bay (2011) – Brewer’s offensive game has tailed off considerably, making
him a shutdown blueliner at this stage.

What’s the trend in all of these?  The
price seems to be going up year-by-year for the most part which is understandable given the
generally inflationary past of the salary cap.  Statistically speaking,
this is a group of players where Gorges fits in and the salary fits basically in
the middle.  The biggest concern here could very well be the 6 year term,
something that was only given to Volchenkov who already has battled some
injuries since then.  But to say he’s overpaid?  Before looking at
these guys, I’d have been inclined to agree, at least a little, but a $3.9 cap
hit seems representative of today’s market.  It’s certainly not a bargain
but it doesn’t appear to be a bad deal either.

Note: As the Habs play both Saturday and
Sunday, the next HW Recap will be on Monday, January 16th.

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