HabsWorld.net -- 

In this week’s HW Recap: It was a successful
week for the Habs in their annual Western road trip, highlighted by a pair of
notable individual achievements.  The Bulldogs sadly weren’t as successful
losing a pair of games and crippling their slim playoff hopes in the process. 
Plus, my Final Thought looks at some reasons to be interested in following the
final games before early golfing season begins.

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) Max Pacioretty: What a week to
reach the 30-goal plateau, picking up four goals and three assists. 
Another hot streak like that could vault him into the top-5 in league scoring
(goal wise). (Prev: 2  Avg:
4.05)

2) P.K. Subban: Confidence seems to go
a long way in his game and it’s safe to say he had it this week.  The
powerplay is running through him (and he’s comfortable with that) which has
played a big part in the team remembering how to score. (Prev:
5  Avg: 9.33)

3) Erik Cole: Although his lone goals
came in Saturday’s game, he had plenty of chances in the previous ones. 
Right now he’s playing second fiddle to Pacioretty but I’ll take his production
from a second fiddle any day of the week. (Prev: 3
 Avg: 4.48)

4) Lars Eller: He may not have a ton
of goals on the year but once again, one of his tallies (from his knees) made
most highlight reels.  One of the ‘nice’ things with the recent injuries is
that it makes it hard for the coach to sit him if he makes a mistake, he needs
to play and play a lot. (Prev: 7  Avg:
7.38)

5) Tomas Plekanec: He actually was
playing with NHL calibre wingers (all due respect to the likes of White and
Geoffrion) and the offensive production that had been eluding him recently
finally returned. (Prev: 9  Avg:
6.86)

6) Carey Price: Although he wasn’t
particularly sharp in Calgary, he was near flawless against a Vancouver team
that came out flying.  He held them in it long enough for the offence to
get going which is what the team needed to have a shot at winning. (Prev:
4  Avg: 5.29)

7) Tomas Kaberle: Yes, he had some
defensive gaffes.  But he also played a big role in the Habs’ offensive
resurgence with his work with the man advantage and in the passing game (when
they weren’t landing on opponents’ sticks instead). (Prev:
8  Avg: 10.77)

8) David Desharnais: It’s a telling
sign that he hasn’t given up when he gets hurt early, stays in the game, and in
his final full shift sets up a powerplay goal.  Full props for the effort. (Prev:
1  Avg: 6.76)

9) Josh Gorges: It didn’t get any
attention but his assist added on Cole’s first goal in Vancouver snapped an
18-game pointless streak.  His week was overshadowed by the success of
Subban. (Prev: 10  Avg:
9.10)

10) Alexei Emelin: I thought this week
was a bit of a step back for him.  His positioning was off at times
(contributing to a team worst -4 on the week); he is at the point where big hits
aren’t enough on their own to call his games successful. (Prev:
6  Avg: 11.32)

11) Andrei Markov: It feels nice to
finally comment on him, it’s been too long.  It was a tale of two games for
him, he passed the puck very well but he wasn’t reading and reacting quick
enough defensively.  That’s fine, it will take some time for the rust to
come off. (Prev: N/A  Avg:
11.00)

12) Scott Gomez: A welcome return to
the lineup (and I know I’m in the minority saying that) but he played with some
good energy and had he had linemates who could actually handle a pass now and
then, he’d have had more than just one assist. (Prev:
11
 Avg: 12.54)

13) Blake Geoffrion: The game in
Vancouver showed why he is still thought of as a legit NHL prospect.  He
got to the scoring areas and was aggressive with his shot, something he needs to
do more regularly. (Prev: 14  Avg:
13.50)

14) Ryan White: When he focuses on
actually playing and not trying to become the next Sean Avery with some of his
after the whistle antics, he fills a useful role.  But lately he is doing
way too much of the latter for my liking. (Prev: 12
 Avg: 12.67)

15) Rene Bourque: He had some chances
on plays he generated himself but it seemed whenever someone was trying to set
him up, he just wasn’t getting the shots off quickly and accurately enough. (Prev:
13  Avg: 12.25)

16) Peter Budaj: The rust in his game
showed although in the end he played well enough to get the win.  It would
be nice to see him play a few more games before the end of the year to see what
he can do in more of a regular rotation. (Prev: N/A
 Avg: 9.56)

17) Louis Leblanc: His game in
Vancouver was by far his best in recent weeks while he struggled in Calgary. 
He never is going to be a dominant physical player but he is a lot better when
he plays with that little bit of an edge. (Prev: 19
 Avg: 15.60)

18) Aaron Palushaj: Like Leblanc, one
good game mixed in with a not-so-good one.  The time is ticking on his
future with this team, he needs to have more good ones in the near future. (Prev:
21  Avg: 18.36)

19) Yannick Weber: He picked up a
couple of secondary assists which is nice but something is missing from his game
right now.  He should be playing with the desperation of a youngster
knowing Raphael Diaz will soon return but he isn’t. (Prev:
17  Avg: 15.60)

20) Chris Campoli: He saw more minutes
than usual and as a result, there were more nerve wracking moments than usual
when he was on the ice.  That’s the opposite effect a defenceman should
have. (Prev: 16  Avg:
18.50)

21) Brad Staubitz: He can fight other
teams’ middleweights.  That doesn’t mean he’s the solution as the enforcer
moving forward while his overall play doesn’t justify getting anything close to
a regular shift. (Prev: 15  Avg:
18.00)

22) Petteri Nokelainen: He won a
faceoff this week, that in itself is a step up from last week’s performance. 
It will be interesting to see how long they keep him as a healthy scratch this
time. (Prev: 20  Avg:
19.00)

The Dog
Pound

You can’t win if you can’t score goals. 
That’s a lesson the Bulldogs surely learned after combining for a whopping one
goal in a pair of losses to division rival Toronto.

Results:

March 9:
Toronto
5, Hamilton 0

March 10:


Toronto 2, Hamilton 1 (OT)

StatPack:

Although there wasn’t a whole lot
of offence, quite a few players found their way onto the scoresheet via the
fisticuffs.

SKATERS


#

Player

GP

G

A

+/-

SH

PIMS
3 Robert Slaney 2 0 0 E 2 2
5 Alex Henry 2 0 0 -2 2 7
6 Joe Stejskal 2 0 0 -2 3 0
10 Philip DeSimone 2 0 0 -4 2 0
11 Alain Berger 2 0 0 E 1 2
13 Zack FitzGerald 2 0 0 E 1 22
15 Phillipe Lefebvre 2 0 0 -2 3 0
17 Mark Mitera 2 0 0 -3 2 2
21 Ian Schultz 2 0 0 -3 3 2
22 Andreas Engqvist 2 0 1 -2 4 2
23 Joonas Nattinen 2 0 0 -4 2 2
24 Brian Willsie 2 0 1 -3 3 4
26 Eric Lampe 2 0 0 E 1 2
27 Joey Haddad 2 0 0 E 1 0
32 Frederic St. Denis 2 1 0 -1 6 2
40 Gabriel Dumont 2 0 0 -3 7 5
44 Olivier Dame-Malka 1 0 0 E 3 2
53 T.J. Fast 1 0 0 -1 0 0
67 Alexander Avtsin 2 0 0 E 0 0

GOALIES


#

Player

Record

SV%

GAA
52 Nathan Lawson 0-1-1 .906 2.46

Active Leaders:

Goals: Andreas Engqvist (18)
Assists: Frederic St. Denis (22)
Points: Andreas Engqvist (35)
+/-: Alex Henry/Robert Slaney (+2)
PIMS: Zack FitzGerald (212)
Shots: Brian Willsie (188)

Schedule:

March 13: Hamilton
vs St. John’s
March 14: Hamilton vs St. John’s
March 17: Hamilton vs Grand Rapids

Final
Thought

Over the past few weeks and surely for the next
few, the thought of watching Montreal games has been and will be met with a lot
of disinterest and indignation.  "There’s nothing to watch for; why should
I watch a team playing for the basement?" is a common phrase I’ve read and to be
honest it’s understandable given the extreme frustration that the 2011-12 season
has brought about.  Nonetheless, there are still some reasons to sit down
and catch the remaining baker’s dozen of games before early golfing season
begins.

1) Pacioretty’s Push: He already has
become the first Hab to reach 30 goals in four seasons and if he keeps his
current pace up, he could be the first to surpass the 35 goal plateau since
Pierre Turgeon in 1995-96.  A high end scorer like this doesn’t come along
often, we should be enjoying every bit of his season.

2) Double 30?: Erik Cole currently sits
at 25 goals, or five shy of matching Pacioretty’s 30.  That 95-96 season
was also the last time the Habs had a pair of 30 goal guys, a decent stretch run
by Cole could put an end to that ugly run. 

3) Mister Markov: Simply getting back
into a game is a noteworthy accomplishment in itself.  Now it will be
interesting to follow his game-by-game progression to get a sense of what, if
anything, he will be able to bring to the table next season.

4) Youth Movement: I touched on this a
bit last week but getting a closer look at some of the youngsters will give us a
glimpse into what could be another piece or two of the future core over the next
few years.

5) It’s the Habs: Five weeks from now
we’ll be bemoaning the fact we won’t see any Habs hockey for another five months
(and that will only take us to the preseason, the CBA permitting of course). 
We won’t have too many more game days for a while so as frustrating as the
season has been, it’s still better than no game days at all; we’ll see what
that’s like soon enough.

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