HabsWorld.net -- 

Although the NHL lockout is finally over,
things aren’t all rosy for the Habs as their AHL affiliate in Hamilton earned
just three of eight points while setting some records they’d like to forget. 
Things were a bit better in Wheeling as the Nailers picked up a pair of
victories in their four contests.  Even though the Bulldogs are dead last
in the AHL, things are looking up for them, I’ll explain why in my Final
Thought.

The Dog
Pound

The Bulldogs celebrated the New Year in a
unique fashion.  A 6-0 blowout in Toronto set a pair of franchise records – 
most consecutive games without scoring a goal (3) and longest time between goals
(200:29).

News and
Notes:

- Phillipe Lefebvre was recalled early in the
week and replaced Alexander Avtsin (healthy scratch) in the lineup.

- Brendon Nash, who scored Hamilton’s last goal
of 2012 (before the goalless drought began), was dealt to San Antonio in
exchange for defenceman Jason DeSantis.  The team hopes that the 5’11
blueliner can rebound to his form of 2011-12 where he picked up 43 points with
St. John’s.

- Early Sunday, the team recalled former
Atlanta first rounder Daultan Leveille, likely in anticipation of players being
recalled to Montreal for training camp this week.

- Lines from the most recent game:

Forwards:

Blunden – Holland – Gallagher
Quailer – Bournival – Dumont
Lefebvre – Chaput – Leblanc
Hagel – Fortier – Stortini

Defence:

Tinordi – DeSantis
St. Denis – Commodore
Beaulieu – Ellis

Results:

December 31:
Rochester
2, Hamilton 0

January 2:

Toronto 6, Hamilton 0

January 4:
Hamilton
3, Rockford 1

January 5:
Lake Erie
3, Hamilton 2 (SO)

StatPack:

Cedrick Desjardins is in desperate
need of a win.  His last victory came nine starts ago back on December
11th. 

SKATERS


#

Player

GP

G

A

+/-

SH

PIMS
3 Antoine Corbin 1 0 0 -2 1 0
4 Brendon Nash 1 0 0 E 1 0
5 Jarred Tinordi 4 0 0 E 3 2
8 Nathan Beaulieu 4 0 0 -4 16 0
10 Stefan Chaput 4 0 1 -2 10 7
12 Zack Stortini 4 0 0 -2 1 17
13 Steve Quailer 4 0 1 -1 2 4
14 Michael Blunden 4 0 1 +1 8 4
15 Kyle Hagel 4 0 0 E 1 5
16 Olivier Fortier 4 1 0 -1 3 2
17 Brendan Gallagher 4 1 1 E 11 0
18 Michael Bournival 4 0 0 -1 9 4
20 Louis Leblanc 4 0 0 -1 8 2
22 Mike Commodore 4 0 0 E 2 6
32 Frederic St-Denis 4 1 1 +3 10 2
37 Patrick Holland 4 1 0 +1 5 0
40 Gabriel Dumont 4 1 1 -2 11 6
44 Morgan Ellis 4 0 0 -5 0 0
49 Phillipe Lefebvre 2 0 1 +1 4 2
58 Jason DeSantis 2 0 0 +1 2 0
67 Alexander Avtsin 2 0 0 -1 3 0

GOALIES


#

Player

Record

SV%

GAA
29 Robert Mayer 1-0-1 .959 1.44
30 Cedrick Desjardins 0-2-0 .822 4.05

SHOOTOUT
– SKATERS

# Player G/ATT
10 Stefan Chaput 0/1
17 Brendan Gallagher 0/1
18 Michael Bournival 1/1
37 Patrick Holland 0/1
40 Gabriel Dumont 0/1

SHOOTOUT
– GOALIES

# Player SVS/ATT
29 Robert Mayer 3/5

Scoring
Leaders:

Goals: Dumont/Gallagher
(10)
Assists: Beaulieu/Dumont/Gallagher (10)
Points: Dumont/Gallagher (20)
+/-: Joonas Nattinen (+6)
PIMS: Zack Stortini (126)
Shots: Brendan Gallagher (111)

Schedule:


January 8: Toronto vs Hamilton
January 11: Hamilton vs Rochester

The
Farm’s Farm

Wheeling split a pair of games this past week
as they beat Trenton in a pair of games but lost to Elmira and Reading.

As the Habs/Bulldogs have players affiliated
with three different teams at the moment, the table below now covers all of those players, not
just the ones with Wheeling.

SKATERS

Player Team
GP

G

A

+/-

SH

PIMS
Scott Gomez Alaska 1 1 0 +1 1 0
Phillipe Lefebvre Wheeling 1 0 0 E 4 0
Daultan Leveille Wheeling 2 0 0 -1 2 0
Joe Stejskal Wheeling 4 0 0 -3 7 7

GOALIES

Player Team
Record

SV%

GAA

Peter Delmas

Wheeling

1-2-0 .919 2.34

Colby Armstrong did not play at all
despite signing with Utah last month.  Ian Schultz (Utah) did not play this past week.

Schedule:


January 11: Reading vs Wheeling

January 12:
Reading vs Wheeling
January 13: South Carolina vs Wheeling

Final
Thought

If you could name one AHL team who
is most happy with the end to the lockout, it’s the Hamilton Bulldogs. 
When you look at the current lineup from earlier on in this article, it’s
certainly a possibility that when NHL play resumes, it could be the same team
suiting up, save for maybe one or two changes.  The Habs are healthy and
their depth is decent; there may be all of one opening up front to fight for
while there will be eight defencemen signed when P.K. Subban inks his new deal. 
Cedrick Desjardins, Aaron Palushaj, and Frederic St. Denis will all have to go
through the waiver process to remain with the team having signed AHL-only deals
back in September but given their performances so far this season, they all
should clear.

Meanwhile, most teams around the
American Hockey League are preparing to lose several players, most of them key
contributors (there are a few NHL 4th liners kicking around on the 4th lines of
AHL squads).  At least half of the top-20 scorers in the league are likely
on their way out the door while several of the top defencemen and goalies will
also be rejoining their NHL teams.  Those teams are going to be a lot more
negatively affected than the Bulldogs.

What does this mean for Hamilton,
who currently sit dead last in the AHL?  For the first time this year, this
very young team will be facing competition that’s more at their level. 
Brendan Gallagher won’t be getting checked by soon-to-be NHL’ers on an almost
nightly basis and life for the defence will be a lot easier as well.  Not
only will this really aid their development, but it should also result in a few
more victories as the season goes along.  Will that be enough to get them
into the playoffs?  It’s tough to say but I’m a lot more confident about
their second half of the season now that the lockout is finally over.

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