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It was a winning week for the Habs despite having over $17 million in cap space on the IR, as they won all 3 of their games including 2 over teams they're trying to catch in the East. The Bulldogs had similar success, taking 3 of their 4 games. We look at one of Montreal's former tough guys in the former player segment, while the Final Thought looks at the key to the Habs' success over the past few weeks. This, plus the grades, in the Recap.
8.00 to 10.00:
I) Stars/Superstars playing at or above performance, salary, and role expectations.
II) Above average players producing beyond performance, salary, and role expectations.
III) Average/Role players delivering well beyond performance, salary, and role expectations.
7.00 to 7.75:
I) Stars/Superstars playing below performance, salary, and role expectations.
II) Above average players producing at performance, salary, and role expectations.
III) Average/Role players delivering beyond performance, salary, and role expectations.
6.00 to 6.75:
I) Stars/Superstars playing far below performance, salary, and role expectations.
II) Above average players producing below performance, salary, and role expectations.
III) Average/Role players delivering at performance, salary, and role expectations.
I) Stars/Superstars playing outrageously below performance, salary, and role expectations.
II) Above average players producing far below performance, salary, and role expectations.
III) Average/Role players delivering below performance, salary, and role expectations.
Jaroslav Halak: 7.75 The GA total may not be pretty, but you can't argue with 3 victories while facing over 30 shots in every game. (Previous: 6.25 Average: 7.67)
Strong defensive play (for the most part) while contributing with 4 points.
The offensive improvement now needs to be there more frequently. (Previous:
Mike Komisarek: 7.50 Much better in his own end this week, and seemed to block anything within a 10 foot radius of him. (Previous: 7.00 Average: 7.06)
Andrei Markov: 7.50 Finally bulged the twine, and looked a lot more comfortable playing with Komisarek this week - it takes some time to bring the chemistry back. (Previous: 6.75 Average: 7.52)
Patrice Brisebois: 7.25 Another player who was strong offensively, although his defensive gaffes proved to be more costly. Still, when your #6 d-man puts up a few points, it's not all bad. (Previous: 6.75 Average: 6.56)
Josh Gorges: 7.00 Bounced around with different pairing mates, and even saw a shift or two as a forward, it's hard to find any sort of rhythm doing that. (Previous: 7.25 Average: 7.29)
Francis Bouillon: 6.75 He had some absolutely egregious errors this week that took away from his solid physical presence. (Previous: 7.25 Average: 6.98)
Yannick Weber: 6.75 I like his offensive instincts, but it'll be a while before the coaching staff feels confident giving him a regular shift on defence. (Previous: N/A Average: 6.75)
8.25 Aside from making me look
like an idiot with my comment for him last week, I'm a happy camper with 4
goals. Can he keep it up though? (Previous:
Andrei Kostitsyn: 8.00 The drive to the net is back for the first time since he was lighting it up with Koivu and D'Agostini. (Previous: 7.50 Average: 7.25)
Maxim Lapierre: 8.00 Still solid defensively and creating chances at the other end; the only reason his grade dropped from last week was the small decline in production. (Previous: 8.50 Average: 7.44)
Tomas Plekanec: 7.75 When you drive to the net and the slot, good things happen. Hopefully he's now realized this and will do so more consistently. (Previous: 7.50 Average: 7.00)
Max Pacioretty: 7.75 Complements Plekanec and Kovalev well as he's willing to work the boards and go into the high traffic areas. Had a point in every game this week. (Previous: 7.25 Average: 7.50)
Sergei Kostitsyn: 7.75 This was the offensive player we've been yearning to see all season. In the past though, playing with his brother has only been a short-term fix, here's hoping this bucks the trend. (Previous: 6.75 Average: 7.02)
Guillaume Latendresse: 7.50 He did score in 2 of the 3 games this week, but the tenacity that he had in weeks past wasn't as evident this go-round. (Previous: 7.75 Average: 7.44)
Alexei Kovalev: 7.50 His end to end rushes that lead to turnovers are driving me nuts, but I'm happy to see the quick chemistry with Pacioretty. (Previous: 7.00 Average: 6.85)
Tom Kostopoulos: 7.50 I like his desire and the fact he doesn't back down. That being said, him continually losing fights deflates the team, not pumps them up. (Previous: 7.25 Average: 7.19)
Kyle Chipchura: 7.00 I can't say about thing about his play, but his pre-play performance (a creative way to say faceoffs) really needs some work (under 46% now). (Previous: 7.25 Average: 7.17)
Steve Begin: 6.75 With the youngsters being as successful as they've been, I'd be getting concerned about losing my spot in the lineup. (Previous: 7.00 Average: 7.15)
Matt D'Agostini: 6.75 In his defence, a 4th line energy player is not his strength, but he also hasn't exactly been making a case for more ice time lately either. (Previous: 6.50 Average: 7.42)
The Dog Pound
Goaltending was only a negative factor in one of the four games this week for Hamilton, and considering that their starter is in Montreal and the backup was just coming off injury, that's not that bad.
3 Stars: 1) Lehoux - HAM 2) Gainey - HAM 3) Jancevski - HAM
3 Stars: 1) Lacasse - HAM 2) Latendresse - HAM 3) Trotter - HAM
3 Stars: 1) White - HAM 2) Lehoux - HAM 3) Fritsche - LEM
3 Stars: 1) Matthias - ROC 2) Murphy - ROC 3) Garrison - ROC
A pair of players made their Hamilton debuts this week and made their presence known immediately, as both Steve Gainey and T.J. Kemp made their marks on the scoresheet.
Goals: Glumac (17)
Assists: Lehoux (25)
Points: Lehoux (37)
+/-: Belle (+18)
PIMS: Stewart (131)
January 14: Grand Rapids vs Hamilton
January 16: Lake Erie vs Hamilton
January 17: Hamilton vs Syracuse
In a week where debates rage on about whether
the Habs need more toughness, let's take a look at one of their former tough
Francis Belanger was the 124th overall pick (5th round) in 1998, selected by Philadelphia. He spent a pair of seasons in their minor league system, splitting time in the AHL and ECHL, before joining the Habs during the 00-01 season. He played in 10 games for Montreal, amassing 29 penalty minutes and no points before being re-assigned to Quebec, their AHL affiliate at the time. He spent one more season with the Canadiens organization, though not making it back with the Habs. The 02-03 season was the beginning of a long journey that saw him play in 5 different leagues before retiring at the end of last season.
Although he never made it as a successful NHL'er, that didn't stop him from being traded for some...sort of. The draft pick that was used to select him was traded to Chicago for J.P. Dumont, and then to Philly for Hall-of-Famer Paul Coffey.
With the Habs on this roll they've been on as
of late, many wonder how they're doing it, considering they're missing their
starting goalie and a line that was their best early in the season. I
think there's a pretty simple explanation to this.
Last year, the Habs were applauded for their hard work, energy, and the fact they never gave up, but many felt they were lacking the talent to go all the way. This offseason, that talent was brought in (Lang and Tanguay), and through the first 6 weeks of the season, all we heard was, "We have the talent, but..." Now, the team isn't afforded that luxury anymore with so many regulars out of the lineup, so they can't rely on talent alone, they need to work for it. And that's exactly what they've done. Give credit where credit's due, to the coaching staff for getting the players motivated to work, and to the veterans (including Kovalev, although anyone who feels there should be a captain switch should get their head examined) for picking up the slack. Hopefully what gets taken from this is that the team will continue to work, no matter when the talent gets back. It's only then that this team can be taken to be a true contender.