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Last season, playing at home did not provide
any sort of advantage for the Habs but the same can’t be said early on this year
after a perfect 3-0 week on home ice.  Unfortunately for the Bulldogs,
winning anywhere is becoming quite the chore as they once again were winless. 
Depth is something that Montreal hasn’t had much of lately, my Final Thought
looks at why fans shouldn’t be so eager to trade some of it away.

Cheers
and Jeers

Cheers to…

1) The Habs’ third line of
Prust-Galchenyuk-Gallagher, for providing an element that the team has lacked
for quite some time – a third line that consistently is capable of providing
offensive pressure.  Secondary scoring is always important and this unit so
far has provided it.

2) Carey Price, who has quickly eliminated any
fears that he might not be in game shape after not playing during the lockout. 
He currently is in the top-5 in GAA and SV% among starters and is a huge reason
why the team has allowed the third fewest goals in the league.

3) Alexei Emelin, for taking his defensive game
to another level so far this season.  Yes, he still hits (he is the league leader
at the time of writing) but he is a lot smarter about when to go for the hit and
when to make the simple play while his positioning in his own end has greatly
improved.  Playing with Andrei Markov will make just about anyone look good
but Emelin is certainly earning his extra ice time.

Jeers to…

1) Travis Moen, the veteran who seems to be
overlooked when it comes to bringing up veterans struggling to start the year (a
list that seems for many to start and end with Erik Cole).  Moen seems to
have lost a step, he isn’t playing as physical as we know he can, and, as usual,
was unable to contribute in a scoring role.  It’s early and I’m sure he’ll
get better but he may be a prime candidate to have a night off soon.

2) The hype and discussion surrounding
everything about P.K. Subban.  How about, instead of trying to read into
every little thing that he does or doesn’t do (or can/can’t do) off the ice, we
simply focus on how he performs on the ice, like we do with every other player? 
There are many who complain he gets too much attention but it’s a self-inflicted
wound.  Let his play do the talking and I think everyone will be better for
it.

3) Ryan White, for taking two unnecessary
penalties that significantly impacted the game in the 5-1 loss to Ottawa. 
When the score is tied in the second period, taking a needless penalty is never
good but then making a point to argue with the official to take another one is
idiocy.  He certainly earned his two game benching.

StatPack:

SKATERS


#

Player

GP
G A +/- PIM SH TOI
8 Brandon Prust 4 0 0 +2 26 5 47:59
14 Tomas Plekanec 4 2 2 -2 2 15 83:29
17 Rene Bourque 4 3 0 -1 4 11 70:07
20 Colby Armstrong 4 0 0 -1 4 3 42:17
21 Brian Gionta 4 0 1 -1 0 10 77:42
22 Tomas Kaberle 3 0 1 +1 0 3 35:23
26 Josh Gorges 4 0 0 -1 2 3 83:55
27 Alex Galchenyuk 4 0 4 +3 2 7 52:29
32 Travis Moen 4 0 0 -3 5 3 44:31
51 David Desharnais 4 3 0 E 6 7 65:17
53 Ryan White 2 0 0 E 9 5 19:57
55 Francis Bouillon 4 0 3 +3 2 3 73:45
61 Raphael Diaz 4 0 3 -2 0 5 75:37
67 Max Pacioretty 1 0 1 +2 0 1 16:09
72 Erik Cole 4 2 1 +3 2 14 64:38
73 Brendan Gallagher 4 2 1 +4 0 10 44:53
74 Alexei Emelin 4 0 0 +2 4 2 78:15
76 P.K. Subban 2 0 2 +2 2 5 35:29
79 Andrei Markov 4 0 3 -1 2 0 98:51
81 Lars Eller 4 1 2 +1 6 10 51:40

GOALIES


#

Player

Record

SV%

GAA
30 Peter Budaj 0-1-0 .815 5.00
31 Carey Price 3-0-0 .941 1.67

Scoring
Leaders:

Goals: Markov/Plekanec (4)
Assists: Raphael Diaz (8)
Points: Diaz/Markov (8)
+/-: Brendan Gallagher (+6)
PIMS: Brandon Prust (46)
Shots: Brian Gionta (25)

Schedule:


February 6: Boston vs Montreal
February 7: Montreal vs Buffalo
February 9: Toronto vs Montreal

The Dog
Pound

The hole to climb to make the playoffs just got
deeper as the Bulldogs lost both of their games.  They now sit 17 points
out of the final playoff spot with two games in hand.

News and
Notes:

- Forward Joey Tenute was released from his PTO
to sign a regular contract for the remainder of the season.  Since joining
the team, he has been a regular on the top two lines.

- Greg Pateryn (elbow) returned to the lineup
after missing 34 games while Aaron Palushaj was waived on Monday signifying that
he is ready to return from his shoulder injury.

- Kyle Hagel was suspended for the loss against
Toronto after being assessed an instigator penalty with under five minutes to
play against Grand Rapids.

- Lines from the most recent game:

Forwards:

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

Defence:

St. Denis – DeSantis
Beaulieu – Ellis
Tinordi – Pateryn

Results:


February 1:

Grand Rapids 5, Hamilton 1

February 2:

Toronto 4, Hamilton 2

StatPack:

SKATERS


#

Player

GP

G

A

+/-

SH

PIMS
2 Greg Pateryn 2 0 0 -3 4 2
5 Jarred Tinordi 2 0 0 -3 1 0
6 Joe Stejskal 1 0 0 -1 1 2
8 Nathan Beaulieu 2 0 0 -2 2 2
10 Stefan Chaput 2 0 1 -1 2 0
11 Joey Tenute 2 0 0 -2 2 0
12 Zack Stortini 2 1 0 -1 1 10
13 Steve Quailer 2 0 0 -2 4 4
14 Michael Blunden 1 0 0 -1 2 0
15 Kyle Hagel 1 0 0 -2 0 27
16 Olivier Fortier 2 0 0 -1 1 0
18 Michael Bournival 2 0 0 +1 8 0
19 Daultan Leveille 1 0 0 -1 0 0
20 Louis Leblanc 2 0 0 -1 4 4
27 Tyler Murovich 2 0 0 -1 1 17
32 Frederic St-Denis 2 1 0 E 3 2
37 Patrick Holland 2 0 0 -3 6 0
40 Gabriel Dumont 2 1 0 E 5 9
44 Morgan Ellis 1 0 0 -1 1 0
49 Phillipe Lefebvre 1 0 0 E 1 0
58 Jason DeSantis 2 0 0 E 1 10

GOALIES


#

Player

Record

SV%

GAA
29 Robert Mayer 0-1-0 .879 4.02
30 Cedrick Desjardins 0-1-0 .808 5.02

Scoring
Leaders:

Goals: Gabriel Dumont (14)
Assists: Beaulieu/Dumont (11)
Points: Gabriel Dumont (25)
+/-: Joonas Nattinen (+6)
PIMS: Zack Stortini (152)
Shots: Brendan Gallagher (117) (Active Leader: Nathan Beaulieu with
92)

Schedule:

February 6: Hamilton
vs Toronto
February 8: Chicago vs Hamilton
February 9: Texas vs Hamilton

Final
Thought

P.K. Subban’s returns to the
lineup has shuffled Tomas Kaberle down to #7 on the depth chart and Yannick
Weber to #8.  Almost immediately, talk has shifted to finding a way to
trade one if not both of them.  I think this is jumping the gun just a
little bit.  For starters, defencemen are going down to injury very quickly
this year and it is bound to happen to the Canadiens at some point or another. 
Having Kaberle ready to insert into the lineup is a handy luxury to have and one
the Habs can afford this particular season as they are comfortably under the
salary cap.

Now it should be noted that
because of the short season and the early blueline injuries that trade value for
both players may be boosted a little bit.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t say
a whole lot – most would assume that Kaberle is a few months away from a buyout
(and thus wouldn’t give up much of anything) while Weber isn’t going to be the
centrepiece of a trade unless the return is a similarly underachieving player or
a draft pick.  If that’s the best they can get for Weber while assuming
Kaberle’s days will be numbered in the offseason, keeping him around is probably
a better option even if he rarely suits up.

If the team stays healthy, a
roster move will have to be made when Petteri Nokelainen returns from a back
injury that has ailed him since before the lockout as the team is currently
carrying the maximum of 23 healthy skaters.  However, that doesn’t appear
to be happening any time soon (I don’t think I’ve ever seen an injured Hab get
less coverage than he has) so there’s no rush.  Depth is never a bad thing
to have, especially on the blueline, so there’s little need to quickly get rid
of it.  Knowing the Habs’ luck with injuries in recent seasons, it probably
won’t be long before one of these two is a regular anyways.

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