The Habs are off to a strong start in the
2014-15 campaign as they came away with wins in all three of their games in the
opening week of the season. In Hamilton, they’re also off to a winning
start after a come-from-behind victory on Saturday night. The insertion of
Travis Moen into a game drew the ire of some fans, my Final Thought discusses
why it’s not really a big deal and why that’s not going to change any time soon.
1) Tomas Plekanec who has silenced some critics
early. Perhaps talk of him being no more than a third line checker that
could be moved to the wing or traded has been a tad premature? Evidently,
he enjoyed playing more of a regular offensive role and the early results are
2) Responding well, something that Dustin
Tokarski did against Washington. After Peter Budaj was dealt, a strong
early performance would go a long way to show management that they made the
right call. He did exactly that, playing a very strong game against a
3) Third period resiliency, something we saw a
lot of this past week. Whether they were trailing or lost the lead on a
fluky bounce, the Habs didn’t relent. That perseverance played a huge role
in the team picking up wins in each of their games.
1) Poor starts, something the Habs were guilty
of to some degree in each of their games (resulting in them needing to pull off
those nice third period comebacks). It’s far too early to get in the
mindset of taking it easy early and turning it on at the end. That can
work short-term but long-term, better starts are an absolute must.
2) Powerplay strategy. Against Toronto,
there seemed to be some effort towards running a play close to the net.
The last two games, the focus has been about just one play – get it to Subban.
That didn’t work last year and with opponents shadowing him on the point, it
won’t work now. It’s time for a Plan B that doesn’t read ‘try Plan A
3) Overusing the powerplay point men.
Nathan Beaulieu is supposed to be an offensive-minded blueliner yet he is
averaging just 28 PP seconds per game so far. Meanwhile, Markov and Subban,
who are averaging over 26 minutes per game, are seeing over four minutes of PP
TOI per game. One of the early themes of this season has been depth and
not overplaying players. It’s time to put that depth to good use with the
man advantage (and in doing so, we might actually see them try something other
than setting up a point shot).
Shootout – Skaters
Shootout – Goalies
Goals: Tomas Plekanec (4)
Assists: P-A Parenteau (3)
Points: Tomas Plekanec (5)
+/-: Andrei Markov (+5)
PIMS: Brandon Prust (9)
Shots: P.K. Subban (12)
The Bulldogs kicked off their season on
Saturday night with something we haven’t seen much of in recent years – an
offensive explosion. Hamilton picked up six goals against Rochester to
start the year off on a winning note.
– Gabriel Dumont has been named team captain,
replacing Martin St. Pierre. Four alternates were also named, defencemen
Greg Pateryn, Davis Drewiske, and Joe Finley as well as forward Jake Dowell.
– There are already four players on the injured
list – Connor Crisp, Stefan Fournier, Jack Nevins, and Dalton Thrower.
– Two players are starting the season on PTO
contracts, forwards Sahir Gill and Jared Gomes.
– Lines from the most recent game:
Tangradi – Andrighetto – Bowman
Sorkin – Hensick – Thomas
Macenauer – Dowell – Dumont
Carr – de la Rose – Hudon
Drewiske – Pateryn
Bennett – Nygren
Finley – Dietz
Hamilton 6, Rochester 4
|20||Jacob de la Rose||1||0||1||+1||1||0|
Goals: 6 tied with (1)
Assists: Dowell/Nygren (2)
Points: 6 tied with (6)
+/-: Davis Drewiske (+4)
PIMS: Gabriel Dumont (4)
Shots: Nick Sorkin (4)
Toronto vs Hamilton
October 18: Rockford vs Hamilton
Earlier on, I mentioned how one of the early
themes of this season is depth. We saw it in the preseason with some of
the players vying for call-ups and we’ve seen it especially in the bottom six up
front. Knowing this, I was surprised by the level of frustration that a
lot of people had when Travis Moen was inserted into the lineup in place of Dale
Weise against Washington.
Early in the season, teams often try to get
their reserves into the lineup quickly. (Don’t be surprised if Michael
Bournival makes an appearance in the near future as well.) That means that
players perceived of as regulars are going to get some time off. None of
Prust, Malhotra, or Weise – the original fourth line – are going to be 82-game
players, even if they’re healthy for the full season. It’s okay to pull
them out to give the other fourth liners some ice time.
We know Moen isn’t exactly the most popular
player among the fan base right now. His contract has made him a focal
point for people who are looking ahead and trying to find ways to maybe save
some money down the road. That’s certainly justified too, his salary and
his role don’t exactly match up well. That said, he’s still a competent
fourth line player who can help in a few ways.
If you want Moen to be a contributor to the
team, he needs to play at least once in a while. If you want him gone, he
also needs to play once in a while. (They could waive him and get stuck
with a partial cap hit if he clears but that’s not likely at this point.)
The key point is that whichever side of the fence you’re on with him, he’s going
to play. You better get used to it, it’s not likely to change anytime