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Although there was a small blip along the way
the Habs continued their strong play, spending much of the week atop the Eastern
Conference.  The Bulldogs meanwhile, still are in the exact opposite
situation, sitting dead last in the AHL West.  The Habs’ powerplay hasn’t
been as strong in recent games as it was earlier in the season, my Final Thought
examines some tweaks that could improve their play with the man advantage.

Cheers
and Jeers

Cheers to…

1) The (mostly) improved faceoff play by the
Habs.  For the week, the team was actually slightly above 50% (121/240)
which is a lot better than they have been in recent weeks.  Let’s hope that
continues.

2) Ryan White, for playing a steady and
reliable game without getting into any trouble.  That’s the type of play
that can be useful to the Habs more than running around like he did last year
and early on this season.  He did what he needed to in order to start to
work out of Michel Therrien’s doghouse. 

3) Speaking of doghouses, Lars Eller, for
bursting right out of it.  He was used in a variety of roles and produced
well regardless of what position he was playing and who he was playing with. 
He began to earn some extra ice time and appears to have earned Therrien’s trust
once again.

Jeers to…

1) Tomas Plekanec, for taking penalties at the
most inopportune times.  His last four penalties, including two this past
week, have been in the third period, the last three of which have been with one
goal leads.  As the teams’ most important penalty killer, staying out of
the box is always important but putting the team in a late shorthanded situation
isn’t going to cut it.

2) Brian Gionta, who has really tailed off
offensively.  He had a pointless week and has hit the scoresheet just four
times in the past 15 games.  As someone who is regularly seeing top-six and
PP time, more production is needed.  That said, I’m not advocating
scratching him, that would open up an unnecessary can of worms.

3) I hate to say it, but Andrei Markov, whose
game has really tailed off in recent weeks.  Not only is he on an eight
game pointless streak, he looks much more hesitant in the offensive zone while
he appears to be slowing down considerably.  He still is helping the team
but lately his play has been more like a third pairing player than a number one
blueliner.

StatPack:

SKATERS


#

Player

GP
G A +/- PIM SH TOI
8 Brandon Prust 4 1 1 +5 5 4 60:01
14 Tomas Plekanec 4 1 0 +1 4 11 77:07
17 Rene Bourque 3 0 0 -2 0 2 54:40
20 Colby Armstrong 4 0 1 +1 0 0 43:12
21 Brian Gionta 4 0 0 -1 0 11 75:06
26 Josh Gorges 4 0 1 +5 0 0 79:29
27 Alex Galchenyuk 4 2 2 +2 4 11 53:17
32 Travis Moen 4 1 0 E 2 4 45:12
51 David Desharnais 4 0 4 +2 4 5 61:04
53 Ryan White 4 0 0 +2 2 0 42:58
55 Francis Bouillon 4 0 0 +3 0 1 74:25
61 Raphael Diaz 4 1 1 +4 0 5 86:34
67 Max Pacioretty 4 4 1 +4 2 13 60:02
72 Erik Cole 4 1 1 +4 0 6 60:48
73 Brendan Gallagher 1 0 0 E 0 1 14:09
74 Alexei Emelin 4 0 1 +1 0 4 76:31
76 P.K. Subban 4 0 2 +3 2 9 80:44
79 Andrei Markov 4 0 0 -1 2 3 88:39
81 Lars Eller 4 1 3 +4 6 5 56:48

GOALIES


#

Player

Record

SV%

GAA
30 Peter Budaj 1-0-0 1.000 0.00
31 Carey Price 2-0-1 .931 1.64

Scoring
Leaders:

Goals: Tomas Plekanec (8)
Assists: Raphael Diaz (11)
Points: Pacioretty/Plekanec (13)
+/-: Alex Galchenyuk (+9)
PIMS: Brandon Prust (76) (League leader)
Shots: Tomas Plekanec (55)

Schedule:


February 25: Montreal vs Ottawa
February 27: Montreal vs Toronto
March 2: Pittsburgh vs Montreal
March 3: Montreal vs Boston

The Dog
Pound

After some surprisingly strong games, the
Bulldogs’ lack of offensive talent appears to have caught up with them again. 
They were competitive in every game but it’s hard to win when the team doesn’t
score.

News and
Notes:

- It was announced that Robert Mayer will not
return to Hamilton next season.  He has signed a two year deal in the Swiss
league.  The Habs, if they so desire, can still extend him a qualifying
offer and retain his rights.

- Steve Quailer returned from his lower body
injury but two more forwards are now out as both Alexander Avtsin (upper body)
and Olivier Fortier (lower body) both suffered injuries last week and have yet
to return to game action.  Both are listed as day-to-day.

- Nathan Beaulieu’s plus/minus rating on the
season (-14) is the second worst in the AHL among rookie defencemen. 

- Approximate lines from the most recent game:

Forwards:

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

Defence:

Beaulieu – Pateryn
Ellis – DeSantis
Tinordi – Stejskal

Results:

February 18:
Rochester
2, Hamilton 0

February 22:
Hamilton
3, Rochester 2

February 24:
Milwaukee
2, Hamilton 0

StatPack:

SKATERS


#

Player

GP

G

A

+/-

SH

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

GOALIES


#

Player

Record

SV%

GAA
34 Dustin Tokarski 1-2-0 .944 1.70

Scoring
Leaders:

Goals: Gabriel Dumont (15)
Assists: Gabriel Dumont (15)
Points: Gabriel Dumont (30)
+/-: Joonas Nattinen (+6)
PIMS: Zack Stortini (180)
Shots: Brendan Gallagher (117) (Active Leader: Gabriel Dumont with
115)

Schedule:

February 26:
St. John’s vs Hamilton
March 1: Binghamton vs Hamilton
March 2: Hamilton vs Lake Erie

Final
Thought

Early on, the Habs were getting significant
contributions from the powerplay but lately, it has been scuffling despite
notching a goal in each of the past two games.  With the season one-third
of the way through, it’s time to start making some tweaks and adjustments. 
Here are my proposed changes:

1) No more flipping Subban and Diaz on the top
pairing.  It feels like each powerplay, they rotate with Markov.  Let
Diaz stay with Markov and have the latter run the one unit while Subban
quarterbacks the other.  Some consistency, given Markov’s recent struggles,
would certainly be a good thing.

2) Swap Emelin for Bouillon on the second unit. 
We all know Bouillon can’t provide much in the way of offence and although
Emelin hasn’t either in his brief NHL career, he has been decent offensively in
his recent international stints.  His shot is underrated and might catch a
few teams off guard.

3) More size in front of the net. 
Presently, it appears that the right winger is responsible for getting in front
of the goalie.  The problem with that is Brendan Gallagher is the tallest
of the two right wingers who predominantly play with the man advantage and
that’s not a good thing.  Tweaking the setup to allow players like Bourque
and Cole to be the ones to get in front would be beneficial.

With the Habs playing this upcoming Sunday, the
next HW Recap will be Monday, March 4th.  If you have any questions/comments, please feel
free to drop me a line at [email protected]