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- January hasn't been a kind month for Lars Eller. He has just 12 points in 44 games, his lowest PPG average of any month.
The Habs weren't able to sweep the week, but managed to take 3 of 4 games to finish the month tied for 1st in the East while the Bulldogs got back on track winning both their contests, despite several injuries. With October now come and gone, it's time to pick the 3-Stars, while the Final Thought discusses why we shouldn't rush to make room for some of the Bulldogs who have started off strong.
Players are rated from 1 to however many players play on a weekly (non-cumulative) basis. Rankings will be tracked weekly and averages provided.
1) Tomas Plekanec: He struggled a bit
on Saturday but was otherwise dominant this week scoring in each of the 3 games
including a PP tally, a seemingly foreign concept nowadays.
(Previous: 5 Average:
2) Carey Price: The only concern I continue to have is his tendency to allow 3rd period goals but in his defence, the ones he has allowed have been either good shots or on second chance opportunities. (Previous: 1 Average: 1.75)
3) Alex Auld: Part of me can't help but wonder if Auld deep down may regret having such a solid game - coach Martin may think he can get away with sitting him nearly another month before his next start...seriously though, kudos for doing so well having sat so long. (Previous: N/A Average: 3.00)
4) P.K. Subban: He's starting to shoot more which is a very good sign, as is the fact he often gets back to either make up for his own mistake or cover for his partner. (Previous: 3 Average: 5.75)
5) Jeff Halpern: Is there anyone left who thinks they have ammunition to complain about this signing? With 7 points in 11 games, he's becoming one of the bigger bargains in the league, let alone on the Habs. (Previous: 8 Average: 6.50)
6) Travis Moen: I maintain the opinion that he's not the right player on the Gomez/Gionta line but he was the only one on that trio who scores which surely counts for something. (Previous: 17 Average: 12.75)
7) Benoit Pouliot: He still gets little to no respect from the coaching staff (and some fans) yet he wound up with a point in 3 of 4 games despite decreasing ice time. Hard to expect more from him quite frankly, especially when he's on a checking line. (Previous: 4 Average: 8.50)
8) Andrei Kostitsyn: Like Plekanec, went quiet on Saturday but he too had a quality week the other three games. Once again, the contract season is proving to be a motivator. (Previous: 2 Average: 7.00)
9) Josh Gorges: There were a couple of mishaps that caught my eye simply because he doesn't make too many mistakes. With Markov returning, his ice time should come down to a more manageable amount which will be best for the team long-term. (Previous: 6 Average: 7.00)
10) Mathieu Darche: I'm still not a big fan of him playing over Dustin Boyd every night (as he did this week) but with a pair of goals, who am I to complain? (Previous: 20 Average: 17.50)
11) Andrei Markov: I was relatively impressed with his season debut considering how long it was since he last played. As the game progressed, he looked more and more confident which bodes well moving forward. (Previous: N/A Average: 11.00)
12) Scott Gomez: Forget the lack of points and salary for a minute (I know it's hard, but just try). What do players in a slump need to do? Hustle at both ends of the rink and keep shooting (or in his case, start shooting). He's struggling, but he's doing the right things to get out of it. (Previous: 14 Average: 12.25)
13) Mike Cammalleri: I'm not sure his slump is entirely broken but he did manage a goal this week at least. He needs to trust his shot and just fire instead of trying to pick the tiniest corner though. (Previous: 7 Average: 6.75)
14) Brian Gionta: Unfortunately, being a good captain alone isn't worth $5 million nowadays. Like Gomez, he's doing the right things but sooner or later the puck needs to tickle the twine. (Previous: 12 Average: 10.75)
15) Alexandre Picard: Continues to play relatively safe, mostly mistake free hockey which is ideal from a 6th defenceman. Ryan O'Byrne probably should be getting a little worried that he may be down to 8th on the depth chart now. (Previous: 16 Average: 16.75)
16) Maxim Lapierre: His quietest week offensively without a doubt but at least the physical game was there most nights. (Previous: 11 Average: 9.50)
17) Hal Gill: Typically, I notice Gill making a couple of key defensive plays each game. I just didn't see that this week, though he certainly didn't play terrible either. (Previous: 10 Average: 12.25)
18) Jaroslav Spacek: If there's any player who stands to benefit the most from Markov's return, it's him. At this stage of his career, he needs to be 16-18 minute per game player, Markov being healthy allows that to happen. (Previous: 13 Average: 15.75)
19) Roman Hamrlik: Directly responsible for multiple goals this week, he seemed just a tad slow in reacting to almost everything. I wonder if the lack of training camp caught up with him this week...and if a similar fate might happen with Andrei Markov. (Previous: 9 Average: 13.33)
20) Lars Eller: There are times where he looks great and others where he looks lost...we saw a lot of the latter this week. Being shuffled and benched repeatedly looks to have killed his confidence. A demotion to Hamilton to get him going again may not be a bad idea right about now. (Previous: 15 Average: 14.25)
21) Tom Pyatt: I don't want to call him complacent now that he has a one-way deal and all but the all out hustle just doesn't seem to be there now. (Previous: 18 Average: 18.50)
The Dog Pound
The Bulldogs got back to their winning ways this week, taking home the W in both of their games, despite a very shaky goaltending performance to start the week.
3 Stars: 1) Palmieri - SYR 2) Klubertanz - HAM 3) Weber - HAM
3 Stars: 1) Russell - HAM 2) Desharnais - HAM 3) Finger - TOR
Goaltending has been a question mark all year and continued last week with the game vs Syracuse. Fortunately, Curtis Sanford is expected to return from injury either sometime this week or early next week.
|32||Frederic St. Denis||2||0||1||+2||1||0|
Goals: Yannick Weber (6)
Assists: David Desharnais (9)
Points: David Desharnais (12)
+/-: David Desharnais (+4)
PIMS: Alex Henry (23)
Shots: Max Pacioretty (36)
Manitoba vs Hamilton
November 3: Manitoba vs Hamilton
November 5: Binghamton vs Hamilton (in Montreal)
Don't forget to vote for your
Habs' 3-Stars of the month, click
for the ballot. The voting deadline is 11:59 PM on November 2nd.
Here are my own personal picks for October's 3-Stars:
1st Star: Carey Price (6-3-1, 2.38 GAA, .912 SV%, 1 SO)
He was the biggest question mark of the season - could he handle being the number one goalie full time? So far, the answer is a resounding yes. He has stolen them a game or two while providing goaltending that has at the very worst kept them in every game.
2nd Star: Tomas Plekanec (11 GP, 5-5-10)
No matter what, he was going to have to be a key part of the offence but with Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta struggling, there was even more pressure on him to produce. Suffice it to say, he did just that.
3rd Star: Andrei Kostitsyn (11 GP, 6-4-10)
He has been the primary beneficiary of Plekanec's continued success, but he's been strong in his own right as well. He is shooting much more often than normal and with such a heavy shot, he'll continue to produce if he keeps this up.
In the last several years, we've seen a lot of
players get rushed up from Hamilton only to have very limited degrees of
success. Recently, we've seen Sergei Kostitsyn, Max Pacioretty, and Ben
Maxwell all struggle despite getting a (somewhat) lengthy look. There is
one element those three have in common - none of them dominated the AHL for a
full season; they were up with the Habs before they had a chance to.
Take a look at P.K. Subban who for the most part has lived up to the hype in this early season. Though he was dominating in stretches last year, the Habs resisted the temptation to call him up, save for a short stint when injuries arose. He played a huge role for Hamilton for all of last season and he appears to be reaping the benefits of the patience showed to him.
As always, there are some Bulldogs who are off to strong starts to the season - David Desharnais, Yannick Weber, and Aaron Palushaj, the latter two will be focused on here. Weber has had some success in a pair of AHL years while Palushaj is starting his first full season; both of these players are popular when discussing who should be coming up to replace (insert player here). Neither though have dominated for a full year and that's what's key. Players who merely average a point-per-game in a short stint have a tendency to not do so in the NHL, so why boot a veteran to make room for them already?
We live in an age of immediate results, but there's still something to gain from having some patience. The common thought process in baseball is to let a youngster absolutely dominate a level before promoting him to the next one, prove that there's absolutely nothing left to gain by sticking around. Subban did just that last year, neither Weber nor Palushaj have though. Let them (and any other player who goes on a hot streak for a few weeks) prove it over a longer period of time; it will benefit them and the organization a whole lot more than hoping for a short-term gain and seeing them struggle over the long haul because they were rushed.