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It wasn’t a week to remember for the Habs who
managed all of three goals in three games but managed to pick up three points
despite their struggles.  In Hamilton, the Bulldogs’ struggles continued as
they won just one of three important divisional games to trail their division by
three points.  Raphael Diaz’s contract talks have generated a lot of
discussion lately, my Final Thought looks at the reported asking price of three
million and whether or not it’s a fair one.

Cheers
and Jeers

Cheers to…

1) Carey Price.  The two games (both
losses) were some of the best games we’ve seen from him in a Montreal uniform. 
It’s quite a difficult feat to have a GAA below 1.00 for the week and still
somehow manage to lose two games but unfortunately, that’s the case here.

2) Tomas Plekanec, which given his offensive
struggles of late may come as a surprise.  It’s important for the top
penalty killer to stay out of the box and Plekanec has done exactly that,
collecting just two minor penalties in his last 20 games.

3) Daniel Briere, who is playing his best
hockey of the season since returning from a concussion.  That may not say
much, but it’s still a positive.  It’s quite surprising that as a reward
for better play, he got demoted to the fourth line. 

Jeers to…

1) The continued deployment of Francis Bouillon
on the powerplay.  I don’t think he deserves as much criticism as he has
received for his overall play but to see him on pretty much every man advantage
remains bewildering.  In over 33 minutes of PP time, he has one assist. 
That’s terrible, even if it is better than his ratio last year (0 points in 74
PP minutes).  It’s time to try someone else.

2) Speaking of the powerplay, how about some
more creativity?  We all know P.K. Subban has a terrific, albeit
not-so-accurate at times slapshot.  The problem is, so does every other
team.  Instead of making him the focal point constantly, it’s time for the
coaches to draw up a few plays that get the other players getting chances. 
Not only will that throw the opponents for a bit of a loop but it will also open
up better shooting lanes for Subban.  It’s win-win.

3) Brandon Prust, who never seems to shy away
from a chance to fight.  Despite having issues with both shoulders
recently, he has fought five times already in 13 games (including the
preseason).  That’s not a sustainable pace if he wants to stay healthy. 
Perhaps it’s time for him to be a bit more selective in choosing when to go for
the sake of self-preservation.

StatPack:

SKATERS


#

Player

GP
G A +/- PIM SH TOI
6 Douglas Murray 2 0 0 -2 0 0 21:37
8 Brandon Prust 2 0 0 E 9 3 27:41
11 Brendan Gallagher 2 0 0 E 0 4 29:31
14 Tomas Plekanec 3 0 0 -1 0 5 57:12
17 Rene Bourque 3 0 0 -1 2 5 51:49
21 Brian Gionta 3 0 0 -1 0 9 52:52
26 Josh Gorges 3 0 0 -1 0 1 62:30
27 Alex Galchenyuk 3 1 0 +1 0 8 49:08
32 Travis Moen 3 0 0 E 0 3 27:07
37 Gabriel Dumont 1 0 0 E 0 0 5:57
48 Daniel Briere 3 1 1 -1 0 6 36:54
49 Michael Bournival 3 0 0 -2 0 1 34:43
51 David Desharnais 2 0 0 E 0 4 34:35
53 Ryan White 2 0 0 E 0 1 17:51
55 Francis Bouillon 3 0 0 -2 0 2 53:48
61 Raphael Diaz 3 0 0 -1 2 2 64:55
67 Max Pacioretty 3 0 1 E 2 10 59:15
74 Alexei Emelin 1 0 0 E 0 1 16:04
76 P.K. Subban 3 0 0 +2 4 10 82:56
79 Andrei Markov 3 0 1 +2 2 6 77:55
81 Lars Eller 3 1 0 +1 4 10 48:11

GOALIES


#

Player

Record

SV%

GAA
30 Peter Budaj 1-0-0 .920 0.92
31 Carey Price 0-1-1 .975 0.96

SHOOTOUT
– SKATERS

# Player G/ATT
11 Brendan Gallagher 0/1
27 Alex Galchenyuk 0/2
48 Daniel Briere 0/1
51 David Desharnais 1/1

SHOOTOUT
– GOALIES

# Player SVS/ATT
30 Peter Budaj 3/3
31 Carey Price 1/2

Scoring
Leaders:

Goals: Brendan Gallagher (8)
Assists: P.K. Subban (14)
Points: P.K. Subban (17)
+/-: Andrei Markov (+7)
PIMS: George Parros (32)
Shots: P.K. Subban (72)

Schedule:


November 19: Minnesota vs Montreal
November 22: Montreal vs Washington
November 23: Pittsburgh vs Montreal

The Dog
Pound

The Bulldogs managed to snap their losing
streak but still lost a pair of important divisional games.  Like the Habs,
offence is quickly becoming a challenge to come by for Hamilton.

News and
Notes:

- Darren Dietz remains out of the lineup with a
wrist injury.  Sven Andrighetto is day-to-day with a lower body injury
while Patrick Holland (undisclosed) did not play this past week.

- Akim Aliu, who had some clutch goals for
Hamilton early in the year, was released from his tryout contract.  Three
players remain on 25-game tryouts, Erik Nystrom, Maxime Macenauer, and Nathan
McIver.

- Nathan Beaulieu’s goal vs Lake Erie was the
first by a Hamilton blueliner this month.

- Lines from the most recent game:

Forwards:

Nystrom – St. Pierre – Thomas
Courtnall – Dumont – Blunden
Tarnasky – Macenauer – Leblanc
Quailer – Duffy – Nattinen

Defence:

Tinordi – Pateryn
Beaulieu – Ellis
McIver – Nygren

Results:

November 13:

Rochester 3, Hamilton 1

November 15:

Lake Erie 5, Hamilton 3

November 16:


Hamilton 3, Lake Erie 2 (SO)

StatPack:

SKATERS


#

Player

GP

G

A

+/-

SH

PIMS
2 Greg Pateryn 2 0 1 +2 6 2
5 Jarred Tinordi 3 0 1 +1 3 2
8 Nathan Beaulieu 3 1 0 -3 11 0
9 Justin Courtnall 3 1 0 +1 7 2
11 Nathan McIver 2 0 0 -4 2 2
12 Maxime Macenauer 3 0 0 -2 4 0
13 Steve Quailer 2 0 2 +2 0 2
14 Michael Blunden 3 1 1 +2 8 4
15 Erik Nystrom 2 0 0 E 3 0
19 Akim Aliu 1 0 0 E 2 0
20 Louis Leblanc 3 1 0 -2 8 6
22 Drew Schiestel 1 0 0 E 0 2
23 Joonas Nattinen 3 1 1 +1 4 0
27 Sven Andrighetto 2 1 0 -2 6 0
32 Magnus Nygren 3 0 0 -5 8 6
40 Gabriel Dumont 2 0 1 E 5 0
42 Ben Duffy 2 0 0 E 0 0
44 Morgan Ellis 3 0 1 +1 1 0
47 Stefan Fournier 2 0 1 +1 1 14
59 Joel Chouinard 1 0 0 +1 0 0
74 Nick Tarnasky 3 0 1 -5 9 5
92 Christian Thomas 2 0 0 -4 5 2
93 Martin St. Pierre 3 0 2 -4 3 2

GOALIES


#

Player

Record

SV%

GAA
29 Robert Mayer 0-1-0 .789 7.65
34 Dustin Tokarski 1-1-0 .933 1.99

SHOOTOUT
– SKATERS

# Player G/ATT
8 Nathan Beaulieu 0/1
40 Gabriel Dumont 1/1
92 Christian Thomas 0/1
93 Martin St. Pierre 0/1

SHOOTOUT
– GOALIES

# Player SVS/ATT
34 Dustin Tokarski 5/5

Scoring
Leaders:

Goals: Sven Andrighetto (7)
Assists: Nygren/St. Pierre (7)
Points: Sven Andrighetto (11)
+/-: Sven Andrighetto (+4)
PIMS: Nathan McIver (25)
Shots: Magnus Nygren (47)

Schedule:

November 19:
Texas vs Hamilton
November 22: Syracuse vs Hamilton (in Montreal)
November 23: Hamilton vs Syracuse

Final
Thought

The report that the Habs have begun preliminary
contract talks with Raphael Diaz irked a lot of fans this past week.  No
matter what their intentions are long-term, they’d be wise to explore the
extension cost for any and all pending free agents, that’s just good business. 
That would allow Marc Bergevin to get a greater sense of the market while
learning if certain players are insistent on testing the market.  If the
team struggles down the stretch, those are the ones to trade.  You have to
do the homework in advance though.

What has irked fans even more is the report
that he’s seeking a deal somewhere in the $3 million range.  To many, that
seems to be really high.  I’m not of the same mindset.  Here are a few
quick reasons why:

1) Points – Offensive d-men get paid,
it’s a reality of the marketplace.  Diaz isn’t a top point producer but he
played at a 40-point pace last year and is in the 25-30 point range this season
if you project out his current numbers (and it could be suggested he’s having a
down year so far). 

2) Ice time – Diaz averaged over 20
minutes per game last year and has done so again this season.  That’s
equivalent to a second pairing blueliner.  The list of top-4 UFA defencemen
who have signed for less than $3 million per season in recent years is pretty
small.

3) Age/Upside – At 28 years old, Diaz
will be one of the younger defencemen to hit the market…if he makes it there. 
Couple that with his relative inexperience (he’ll have roughly 150 NHL games
under his belt at the end of the year) and there will be a few teams thinking
there’s still some upside in terms of development.

You can make a case that extending with the
Habs long-term may not be the right course of action for Bergevin and the
Canadiens to take with the Swiss rearguard.  However, if he does extend in
the range of $3 million per year, it won’t be a bad deal value-wise.  Diaz
should be able to easily get that in July if current trends continue, especially
with the cap expected to climb considerably.  I know he’s not the most
popular player on the team but he’s worth more than many think.