HabsWorld.net -- 

The week that was for the Hamilton Bulldogs was
full of surprises, the biggest being a victory over the Western Conference
leaders.  In Wheeling, a depleted Nailers lineup was able to pull off three
straight wins to move into a playoff spot for the first time all season. 
Training camp in Montreal kicked off with a shocker, my Final Thought looks at
the end of the Scott Gomez era in Montreal.

The Dog
Pound

Heading into the week, I think most would have
been hopeful for the team to go 1-1.  Interestingly enough, they
lost to the team they were more likely to beat and won against the team that
most thought they would lose to rather handily.

News and
Notes:

- Joe Stejskal was called back to the Bulldogs
in anticipation of the callups to NHL training camp.  The team also signed
forward Joey Tenute, who wasn’t playing anywhere this year, to a PTO as well as forward
Tyler Murovich, the 4th leading scorer on the Gwinnett Gladiators of the ECHL.

- Early Sunday, the club released Aaron
Palushaj, Frederic St. Denis, and Cedrick Desjardins from their AHL-only lockout
contracts.  In order for them to rejoin the club, they must clear NHL
waivers; Desjardins has already hit the waiver wire.  The others will
likely take longer to get back as St. Denis will be participating in training
camp in the intrasquad game while Palushaj is still recovering from a shoulder
injury and is still a couple of weeks away from returning to the lineup. 
He cannot be waived until he is healthy which means there’s a good chance he
begins the season on Montreal’s roster.

- Speaking of injuries, defenceman Greg Pateryn
is nearing a return to the lineup, perhaps as early as this coming week. 
Joonas Nattinen is out indefinitely with an upper-body injury.  Olivier
Fortier also missed both games for unspecified reasons (likely an injury).

- Lines from the most recent game:

Forwards:

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

Defence:

Tinordi – DeSantis
St. Denis – Commodore
Beaulieu – Ellis

Results:

January 8:

Hamilton 2, Toronto 1

January 11:

Rochester 5, Hamilton 2

StatPack:

Patrick Holland hasn’t scored
often this year (five goals overall) but good things happen when he does. 
Two of his goals are game winners while the other three were game tying goals,
all also in wins.

SKATERS


#

Player

GP

G

A

+/-

SH

PIMS
5 Jarred Tinordi 2 0 0 -3 3 4
8 Nathan Beaulieu 2 0 1 +1 3 0
10 Stefan Chaput 2 0 0 -2 0 0
11 Joey Tenute 1 0 2 +1 2 2
12 Zack Stortini 2 0 0 -1 3 2
13 Steve Quailer 2 0 0 E 3 2
14 Michael Blunden 2 0 1 -1 2 14
15 Kyle Hagel 2 0 0 E 2 6
17 Brendan Gallagher 2 0 0 -1 6 15
18 Michael Bournival 2 0 0 +1 3 0
19 Daultan Leveille 1 0 0 E 1 0
20 Louis Leblanc 2 0 0 -2 5 0
22 Mike Commodore 2 0 1 E 2 2
32 Frederic St-Denis 2 0 0 E 4 0
37 Patrick Holland 2 1 0 -2 6 0
40 Gabriel Dumont 2 2 0 +2 4 0
44 Morgan Ellis 2 0 0 E 0 4
49 Phillipe Lefebvre 2 0 0 -1 4 2
58 Jason DeSantis 2 1 1 -2 4 0

GOALIES


#

Player

Record

SV%

GAA
29 Robert Mayer 1-1-0 .885 3.01

Scoring
Leaders:

Goals: Gabriel Dumont (12)
Assists: Nathan Beaulieu (11)
Points: Gabriel Dumont (22)
+/-: Dumont/Nattinen (+6)
PIMS: Zack Stortini (128)
Shots: Brendan Gallagher (117)

Schedule:


January 15: Hamilton vs Abbotsford
January 16: Hamilton vs Abbotsford
January 19: Toronto vs Hamilton

The
Farm’s Farm

The end to the NHL lockout more or less depleted a lot
of the depth on the farm although that didn’t stop the Nailers from pulling off
three wins in as many nights.

As the Habs/Bulldogs have players affiliated
with multiple teams presently, the stat table below now covers all of those players, not
just the ones with Wheeling.

SKATERS

Player Team
GP

G

A

+/-

SH

PIMS
Tyler Murovich Gwinnett 1 0 0 -1 0 0
Ian Schultz Utah 2 1 0 -3 7 7

GOALIES

Player Team
Record

SV%

GAA

Peter Delmas

Wheeling

2-0-0 .913 1.92

Schedule:


January 17: Wheeling vs Orlando

January 19:
Wheeling vs Orlando

Final
Thought

We learned on Sunday that the
Scott Gomez era in Montreal has come to an end 48 games (plus possible playoff
contests) earlier than anyone thought as the club announced they have sent him
home to avoid any chance of jeopardizing an early July compliance buyout. 
He will sit the entire season and collect his full pro-rated pay.  The team
says the decision was made to eliminate the risk of him suffering a long-term
injury which would negate the ability to buy him out but I suspect there is
another reason.

Last season was nothing short of a
media and fan circus when it came to the player with the highest cap hit in
franchise history.  Questions/complaints about who he was playing with,
what line he was on, and quite often, why he was playing followed him and the
team around, creating unnecessary distractions.  The fact that the team
itself was in disarray for the latter months of the year made this less of an
issue than it would have been had the team been competitive and in the playoff
race.  This season, one where most teams will be in the hunt until the very
end, that won’t be the case.

I don’t think this decision means
that the team thinks Gomez couldn’t have possibly been helpful.  He was
coming into camp with some momentum after a quality stint in the ECHL to stay in
shape and he had a clean slate with the coaching staff.  But how productive
would he have to have been to avoid the likely firestorm?  We all knew that
regardless of what happened in the next few months, he was going to be bought
out.  Being asked about that fact regularly surely wasn’t going to help
things either.  Basically, I think it came down to a risk/reward valuation
where the risk was a combination of injuries, potential performance struggles,
and off-ice baggage (the buyout situation, his cap hit, fan backlash) and the
reward being any potential for a bounce back season.  In the end, they felt
the risk outweighed the reward. 

Personally, I’m disappointed that
Gomez’s tenure with the Habs ends this way.  I thought he could still be a
somewhat useful player as I figured Michel Therrien would be able to bring some
of the spark back that was lacking at times the past couple of years.  But
at the same time, it’s hard to argue with the decision, there would have been an
awful lot of things that could have gone wrong had they kept him.  What a
way to kick off the season.

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