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It was a winning week for the Canadiens’ organization as the Habs earned
victories in all three of their games while the Bulldogs won a game for the
first time in nearly three weeks.  Andrei Markov and Montreal’s top line
highlight the cheers and jeers of the week while Lars Eller is the focus of my
Final Thought; in particular, why there is now extra pressure on him to get his game
going.

Cheers
and Jeers

Instead of grades or player rankings this season, I’m going to change things
up a bit.  This new section will focus on the good and the not-so-good of
the week, whether it involves specific player performances or team stats and
trends.

Cheers to…

1) Andrei Markov, for showing that he can still be a franchise
defenceman.  I’d say mostly everyone thought that this couldn’t happen with
all of the injuries he has had to battle through plus the fact he was seeing
considerably less minutes in the KHL than he has in the early going in the NHL. 
Of course one injury could derail everything again but it’s great to see him
thrive early on.

2) The powerplay, which, unlike last season, actually looked like a
powerplay this past week.  Markov and Raphael Diaz have formed a quality
top powerplay duo at the point that have allowed the Habs to do what has worked
best in the past – get it to the point and let it fly.  With a success rate
of just over 29%, it’s safe to say it’s working so far.

3) The ‘Gally’s,’ for removing any difficulty for the coaching staff
to decide on their future with the team.  In their brief stint so far, both
demonstrated that they are capable of playing at the NHL level which made the
decision to keep both of them around pretty much a no-brainer.

Jeers to…

1) The top line, for still not being able to score a goal through four
games.  Last season, the trio of Pacioretty-Desharnais-Cole was the Habs’
entire offence on a lot of nights but in the early going this year, they’ve been
a little too quiet.  Prior to his appendectomy, Pacioretty was rounding
back into form while Cole has improved each game giving me hope that by next
week, this zero goals stat will no longer exist.

2) The centres, who demonstrated that the season opening performance
at the faceoff dot was a mirage.  Last years’ struggles have resurfaced and
then some.  In the three games, Montreal’s top three centres hit the 50%
mark just once (Desharnais in Washington).  Combined, he, Plekanec, and
Galchenyuk were a paltry 46/122 on draws, good for a success rate of just 37.7%.

3) Yannick Weber, for failing to take advantage of an opportunity
handed to him on a silver platter with Tomas Kaberle not being quite 100% for
the New Jersey game.  I wasn’t expecting him to dominate by any stretch but
I had hoped he could have done better than getting benched by the end of the
second period.  In a short season like this, he won’t get many chances. 
He needs to be better next time.

StatPack:

SKATERS


#

Player

GP
G A +/- PIM SH TOI
8 Brandon Prust 3 1 1 +2 15 2 39:14
14 Tomas Plekanec 3 2 0 +1 0 7 60:52
17 Rene Bourque 3 0 2 +1 2 8 52:10
20 Colby Armstrong 3 0 0 +1 0 0 33:33
21 Brian Gionta 3 1 1 +1 0 14 55:33
22 Tomas Kaberle 2 0 0 +1 0 1 27:00
26 Josh Gorges 3 1 0 +1 2 3 65:09
27 Alex Galchenyuk 3 1 2 +1 2 5 35:17
32 Travis Moen 3 0 1 +1 2 2 37:25
51 David Desharnais 3 0 2 E 2 2 49:50
53 Ryan White 3 1 0 +1 31 4 26:44
55 Francis Bouillon 3 0 1 +1 0 4 61:22
61 Raphael Diaz 3 0 4 +2 4 3 55:15
67 Max Pacioretty 2 0 4 +1 0 7 31:34
68 Yannick Weber 1 0 0 E 0 0 10:17
72 Erik Cole 3 0 1 E 0 5 46:52
73 Brendan Gallagher 3 1 1 +2 0 6 35:12
74 Alexei Emelin 3 0 1 +1 0 1 71:02
79 Andrei Markov 3 4 1 +2 2 10 77:05
81 Lars Eller 1 0 0 -1 0 3 13:53

GOALIES


#

Player

Record

SV%

GAA
31 Carey Price 3-0-0 .940 1.63

Scoring
Leaders:

Goals: Andrei Markov (4)
Assists: Raphael Diaz (5)
Points: Diaz/Markov (5)
+/-: 5 tied with (+2)
PIMS: Ryan White (33)
Shots: Brian Gionta (15)

Schedule:


January 29: Winnipeg vs Montreal
January 30: Montreal vs Ottawa
February 2: Buffalo vs Montreal
February 3: Ottawa vs Montreal

The Dog
Pound

Hamilton’s victory on Saturday in Lake Erie was
their first road win in six weeks.  They’re still a mile away from playoff
contention but it’s nice the losing streak is over.

News and
Notes:

- Defenceman Mike Commodore was released from
his tryout contract following their early week loss in Rochester.

– Assistant Coach Ron Wilson was relieved of his duties also following that loss
due to philosophical differences with Sylvain Lefebvre.

- Greg Pateryn (elbow) and Aaron Palushaj
(shoulder) are both getting close to returning to the team; Palushaj of course
would need to pass through NHL waivers before that can happen.  The news on
Joonas Nattinen’s shoulder injury isn’t as good, he is more than likely out for
the season.

- Lines from the most recent game:

Forwards:

Bournival – Tenute – Leblanc
Blunden – Dumont – Holland
Quailer – Chaput – Murovich
Hagel – Fortier – Stortini

Defence:

St. Denis – DeSantis
Beaulieu – Ellis
Tinordi – Stejskal

Results:


January 21:
Rochester
6, Hamilton 3

January 26:
Hamilton
2, Lake Erie 1 (SO)

StatPack:

SKATERS


#

Player

GP

G

A

+/-

SH

PIMS
5 Jarred Tinordi 2 0 0 +2 1 5
6 Joe Stejskal 1 0 0 E 1 0
8 Nathan Beaulieu 2 0 0 -2 2 0
10 Stefan Chaput 2 0 1 -2 2 0
11 Joey Tenute 2 1 0 -1 6 0
12 Zack Stortini 2 1 0 +1 3 12
13 Steve Quailer 2 0 0 -1 2 0
14 Michael Blunden 1 0 0 +1 2 0
15 Kyle Hagel 2 0 1 +1 2 7
16 Olivier Fortier 2 0 0 E 3 0
18 Michael Bournival 2 0 0 -2 5 2
20 Louis Leblanc 2 1 0 -1 9 4
22 Mike Commodore 1 0 0 -1 0 0
27 Tyler Murovich 2 0 0 -1 1 4
32 Frederic St-Denis 2 0 1 -1 2 0
37 Patrick Holland 2 0 0 +1 3 0
40 Gabriel Dumont 2 1 0 -2 6 5
44 Morgan Ellis 2 0 0 E 5 6
49 Phillipe Lefebvre 1 0 1 E 0 0
58 Jason DeSantis 2 0 0 -3 3 2

GOALIES


#

Player

Record

SV%

GAA
29 Robert Mayer 0-1-0 .824 6.00
30 Cedrick Desjardins 0-1-2 .957 0.92

SHOOTOUT
– SKATERS

# Player G/ATT
8 Nathan Beaulieu 1/1
10 Stefan Chaput 1/1
11 Joey Tenute 0/1
14 Michael Blunden 0/1
18 Michael Bournival 0/1
20 Louis Leblanc 0/1
37 Patrick Holland 0/1
40 Gabriel Dumont 0/1
58 Jason DeSantis 0/1

SHOOTOUT
– GOALIES

# Player SVS/ATT
30 Cedrick Desjardins 8/9

Scoring
Leaders:

Goals: Gabriel Dumont (13)
Assists: Beaulieu/Dumont (11)
Points: Gabriel Dumont (24)
+/-: Joonas Nattinen (+6)
PIMS: Zack Stortini (142)
Shots: Brendan Gallagher (117) (Active Leader: Nathan Beaulieu with
90)

Schedule:

February
1: Grand Rapids vs Hamilton
February 2: Hamilton vs Toronto

Final
Thought

While most fans were likely
excited by the news early Monday morning that Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan
Gallagher are staying with the big club, I suspect there is at least one player
who is feeling more nervous as a result.  (And I’m not talking about
Petteri Nokelainen whose odds of actually playing once in a while when healthy
may very well have gone down the drain.)  I’m referring to Lars Eller as
his hold on a spot in the lineup just became a lot more tenuous.

As you all know, Eller has already
been sat down for playing with a lack of energy/aggression.  We’ve all seen
that Galchenyuk has played better at centre and that Eller looks out of place on
the wing.  This pretty much makes him the odd man out as his skill set
isn’t as a prototypical fourth liner while Desharnais, Plekanec, and Galchenyuk
look to be entrenched as the top three pivots. 

With Max Pacioretty out for a few
weeks, Eller is going to get an extended look as a winger.  Knowing that he
is already in Michel Therrien’s doghouse, he is going to need some consistent
quality games to have a shot at keeping his spot in the lineup.  Otherwise,
there’s a good chance he’ll be on the outside looking in.  Eller will be
facing a level of pressure he’s yet to see so far with the Habs as he has more
or less been a regular since he joined the team.  I’m certainly intrigued
to see how he reacts.

Note: With the Habs playing
this coming Sunday, the next HW Recap will be Monday, February 4th.

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