They may not have played their best hockey by
any stretch but the Habs still made some noise in the standings, collecting five
of a possible six points. In Hamilton, the Bulldogs continue to hang
around the playoff race but are still on the outside looking in. Speaking
of those Bulldogs, my Final Thought looks at why their next couple of weeks are
absolutely crucial to their postseason hopes.
1) P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov. For
various reasons, the two of them were forced to play crazily high minutes in all
three of Montreal’s games and both came through with flying colours. The
goal for Michel Therrien this coming week should be to roll the pairings a
little more balanced to give those two a rest that they’ll certainly need with a
4-in-6 coming up.
2) Christian Thomas, for making his first
career goal one of the highlight variety. Although his stint with the big
club is likely coming to an end in the near future (he may very well be the odd
man out when P-A Parenteau returns), he certainly has made a positive impression
despite playing limited minutes.
3) Jacob de la Rose, who is about to present
management with a tough decision. He’s subject to the ‘9-game rule’,
meaning that he’ll burn a year of his entry-level contract once he plays in his
tenth game. In his first couple games, it wasn’t looking like he could
force their hand but after a few strong outings in a row, the decision to send
him down just got a lot harder to make.
1) Dustin Tokarski, who isn’t filling many
people with confidence right now (even though he was a puzzling second star vs
Edmonton). He has allowed three or more goals in six of his last seven
starts. It’s hard to push for more playing time when three goals allowed
is starting to seem like a given. If he doesn’t fare well in his next
outing or two before the deadline, perhaps they’ll look to add another veteran
2) A lack of punch from the rest of the
blueline. We all know what Markov and Subban bring to the table. The
rest of the blueliners have combined for five goals in 225 combined games
played. We often look to the forwards when assigning blame for scoring
droughts but the rest of Montreal’s back end has contributed to the Habs’
offensive struggles as well.
3) More lacklustre efforts against bottom
feeders. Although Montreal managed to get three of four points against
Edmonton and Toronto, their play in those games isn’t getting anyone excited.
They need to find a way to better motivate themselves for these contests as they
will play a big role in determining their playoff seeding.
Jacob de la Rose
Shootout – Skaters
Shootout – Goalies
Goals: Max Pacioretty (25)
Assists: P.K. Subban (28)
Points: Max Pacioretty (46)
+/-: Max Pacioretty (+27) – 1st in NHL as of games played through
PIMS: Brandon Prust (97)
Shots: Max Pacioretty (211)- 3rd in NHL as of games played through
The Bulldogs finished up their run against Iowa
with a win but were unable to build on that, losing a tough one against the
Marlies on Friday night.
– Darren Dietz returned to the lineup after
missing three games with a lower body injury while Connor Crisp (upper body)
also returned after missing a month. However, Bryan Allen missed the
Toronto game with an upper body issue.
– Shane Bakker was suspended for two games for
an interference infraction. There was no penalty originally assessed on
the play. He missed the Toronto game and will miss Monday afternoon’s game
– The Bulldogs now have seven players that
qualify as ‘veterans’. The max that can dress in a game is six meaning
that Hamilton will be forced to sit one of their older players each game for the
foreseeable future (barring injuries).
– T.J. Hensick has recorded a positive +/-
rating only once in the last month. He is -9 in his last five games.
– Lines from the most recent game:
Carr – Hudon – Tangradi
Andrighetto – Dumont – Hensick
Bowman – Dowell – Sorkin
Gill – Macenauer – Crisp
Tinordi – Pateryn
Drewiske – Dietz
Bennett – Shea
Goals: Carr/Dumont (14)
Assists: Charles Hudon (29)
Points: Charles Hudon (41)
+/-: Davis Drewiske (+14)
PIMS: Joe Finley (103)
Shots: Carr/Dumont (119)
February 16: Utica vs Hamilton
February 18: Rochester vs Hamilton
February 20: Hamilton vs Grand Rapids
February 21: Hamilton vs Grand Rapids
The next couple of weeks are very busy for the
Hamilton Bulldogs and although we’re only halfway through February with more
than two months left in the season, these upcoming games are absolutely critical
for the Bulldogs.
By all accounts, GM Marc Bergevin doesn’t
appear to be willing to deal away top picks or prospects in pursuit of upgrades
between now and the trade deadline. It’s also unlikely that anyone of
significant value is going to be moved off the NHL roster unless it’s part of a
bigger player-for-player swap.
As a result, it seems highly likely that the
Bulldogs are going to bear some of the brunt of Montreal’s activity at the
deadline. Players that only project as role players with the big club but
are core pieces in Hamilton will be among those most likely to move.
If the team is going to make a real run at a
playoff spot, they’re really going to need to bank some points over these next
couple of weeks as their team may look a whole lot different (and worse) after 3
PM EST on March 2nd. Add that to the fact that they have a pair of really
rough road trips on the horizon and these next few games will be among their
most important of the season. It’ll be interesting to see if they can make
a bit of a run before the times get a whole lot tougher.