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A week after everything was looking up for the
Habs, it all came crashing back down after a winless week that saw the team earn
just one of six points.  In Hamilton, it was a positive week for them as
they picked up a pair of wins against some of the Western Conference’s toughest
teams.  Peter Budaj has struggled so far this season, my Final Thought
looks at whether or not he’s taking too much heat from the fans.

Cheers
and Jeers

Cheers to…

1) Michel Therrien, for a couple of reasons. 
For one, I like how he handled the most recent Ryan White fiasco but I was also
happy to see him show some patience with the lines and defence pairings during
this losing streak.  It’s still relatively early and the players can
benefit from some consistency, it certainly beats the shift-to-shift line
juggling we’ve witnessed in recent years.

2) P.K. Subban, for playing a lot more
controlled than he was last season while still being productive on the
scoreboard.  Yes, he still takes too many runs at players and can sometimes
even confuse his own teammates out there but his ‘system play’ is considerably
better than it was last year when he more or less did what he wanted out there.

3) Brendan Gallagher, for not backing down. 
He continues to drive the net hard and with a purpose and as we all saw
Saturday, he didn’t shy away from the rough stuff.  For a skilled rookie
just ten games into his NHL career, he is quickly making a name for himself.

Jeers to…

1) Ryan White, and does anyone really not know
why?  White can be a very useful player but he can’t keep taking these
penalties.  He was out of control last year at times as well but since the
Habs were out of it by then, most people didn’t notice or care.

2) The team in general for its defensive
breakdowns in the 3rd period.  Say whatever you want about White and
Budaj’s contributions to the Buffalo loss but they were solely responsible as
the play in the defensive end in both that game and the Boston one was porous. 

3) Last year’s top line of Max Pacioretty,
David Desharnais, and Erik Cole.  They simply haven’t been getting the job
done for whatever reason.  It’s time to split that trio up and see if that
can rekindle their games as this team needs them producing to succeed.

StatPack:

SKATERS


#

Player

GP
G A +/- PIM SH TOI
8 Brandon Prust 3 0 1 +1 21 3 32:25
14 Tomas Plekanec 3 2 1 -2 2 10 60:32
17 Rene Bourque 3 0 2 -1 16 11 55:47
20 Colby Armstrong 3 0 0 -1 2 6 32:23
21 Brian Gionta 3 0 1 -1 2 4 55:15
26 Josh Gorges 3 0 0 -2 5 0 58:14
27 Alex Galchenyuk 3 0 0 +1 0 4 32:39
32 Travis Moen 2 0 0 E 0 2 23:14
51 David Desharnais 3 0 0 -5 2 3 50:13
53 Ryan White 1 0 0 E 4 0 8:43
55 Francis Bouillon 3 0 0 -2 0 3 56:47
61 Raphael Diaz 3 0 1 E 0 8 66:43
67 Max Pacioretty 3 0 1 -5 10 10 47:03
72 Erik Cole 3 0 0 -3 4 5 52:09
73 Brendan Gallagher 3 1 0 -1 15 7 31:29
74 Alexei Emelin 3 0 1 -3 0 1 52:40
76 P.K. Subban 3 2 0 -2 4 6 64:47
79 Andrei Markov 3 0 2 -3 2 3 71:04
81 Lars Eller 3 0 0 -1 0 4 33:47

GOALIES


#

Player

Record

SV%

GAA
30 Peter Budaj 0-0-1 .900 3.70
31 Carey Price 0-2-0 .843 4.03

Scoring
Leaders:

Goals: Tomas Plekanec (6)
Assists: Raphael Diaz (9)
Points: Markov/Plekanec (10)
+/-: Alex Galchenyuk (+6)
PIMS: Brandon Prust (67)
Shots: Tomas Plekanec (34)

Schedule:


February 12: Montreal vs Tampa Bay
February 14: Montreal vs Florida
February 16: Philadelphia vs Montreal

The Dog
Pound

In terms of their opponents, this was a very
tough week for Hamilton but to their credit, the ‘Dogs managed to pick up a pair
of wins in three games including knocking off the league leading Texas Stars.

News and
Notes:

- The Bulldogs were hoping to have Aaron
Palushaj back in their lineup after recovering from his shoulder injury but he
was claimed by Colorado on waivers.

- The injury bug has struck as Steve Quailer,
Michael Bournival, and Jarred Tinordi all missed Saturday’s game with minor
injuries, Tinordi’s coming from a fight the night before.  All are listed
as day-to-day.  Frederic St. Denis is also out with an unspecified injury.

- Approximate lines from the most recent game
(they were often juggled with the injuries):

Forwards:

Tenute – Dumont – Blunden
Murovich – Holland – Leblanc
Leveille – Chaput – Avtsin
Hagel – Fortier – Stortini

Defence:

Beaulieu – Pateryn
Stejskal – Ellis
Corbin – DeSantis

Results:

February 6:
Hamilton
6, Toronto 4

February 8:
Chicago
3, Hamilton 0

February 9:
Hamilton
2, Texas 1

StatPack:

SKATERS


#

Player

GP

G

A

+/-

SH

PIMS
2 Greg Pateryn 3 2 0 +1 5 0
3 Antoine Corbin 3 0 0 -2 1 2
5 Jarred Tinordi 2 0 1 -1 3 5
6 Joe Stejskal 1 0 0 +1 0 2
8 Nathan Beaulieu 3 1 1 +2 9 2
10 Stefan Chaput 3 0 2 +3 1 0
11 Joey Tenute 3 0 0 E 8 2
12 Zack Stortini 3 0 0 -3 1 0
13 Steve Quailer 2 0 0 -1 3 2
14 Michael Blunden 3 0 1 E 8 6
15 Kyle Hagel 3 0 0 -1 4 7
16 Olivier Fortier 3 0 0 E 0 7
18 Michael Bournival 2 0 1 E 4 0
19 Daultan Leveille 1 0 0 E 1 0
20 Louis Leblanc 3 2 1 -1 8 0
27 Tyler Murovich 3 1 0 E 4 2
37 Patrick Holland 3 0 1 +1 1 2
40 Gabriel Dumont 3 1 1 -1 7 8
44 Morgan Ellis 3 0 0 -3 1 6
58 Jason DeSantis 3 1 0 +1 2 4
67 Alexander Avtsin 1 0 0 E 1 0

GOALIES


#

Player

Record

SV%

GAA
29 Robert Mayer 1-0-0 .973 1.00
30 Cedrick Desjardins 1-1-0 .918 3.50

Scoring
Leaders:

Goals: Gabriel Dumont (15)
Assists: Beaulieu/Dumont (12)
Points: Gabriel Dumont (27)
+/-: Joonas Nattinen (+6)
PIMS: Zack Stortini (152)
Shots: Brendan Gallagher (117) (Active Leader: Nathan Beaulieu with
101)

Schedule:

February 12:
Toronto vs Hamilton
February 15: Hershey vs Hamilton
February 16: Houston vs Hamilton

Final
Thought

Last season, Peter Budaj quietly
had one of the better seasons in his career putting up a career best in GAA and
almost a career high in SV%.  Despite this, many fans are throwing him
under the bus after a pair of admittedly shaky starts.  As frustrating as
it may be, Budaj is going to need to play to get himself going – he has played
all of three games since April 7th…and one of those was a two period
scrimmage.  He’s simply not in 100% playing shape right now (and that’s on
him).  That doesn’t mean he can’t be a useful part of the puzzle as the
season wears on though.

Jeff Hackett, Jose Theodore,
Cristobal Huet, Jaroslav Halak, Carey Price.  What do all these players
have in common?  They all are (or were at the time) above average goalies
in the league and all spent time as Montreal’s backup goalie in the past ten
years.  It’s abnormal to have that many good #2 goalies in that short of a
span and I think it’s safe to say that we as a fan base have been spoiled as a
result.  I think fans are expecting above average goaltending from a backup
goalie who simply isn’t that – he’s an average goalie (and there’s nothing wrong
with that as a backup).

Get used to this level of a backup
goalie as with Carey Price locked up long term for big dollars, the Habs will
have to go the cheap route for a #2 guy.  It’s not as if there’s even a
quality option in the system who could be a better player than a run-of-the-mill
UFA option.  If you look at some of the backups around the league, it’s not
an awe-inspiring collection.  Budaj isn’t the best among them by any
stretch but he’s far from the worst.  Price can’t play every minute of
every game, the team will need to count on the Slovak as the season wears on. 
Using him in relief a few times when the game is out of hand is a good way to
give Price a bit of rest and get Budaj some playing time.  Regardless of
however it comes though, it’s incumbent upon him now to make sure he’s 100%
ready for his next game – I think he will be and will prove his worth. 

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