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- January hasn't been a kind month for Lars Eller. He has just 12 points in 43 games, his lowest PPG average of any month.
In this week's HW Recap: Could Hal Gill's scoring streak be enough to vault him up to the top of the player rankings? In Hamilton, the new-look Bulldogs won a pair of games, the stats are here as always but also some player notes from their win over Toronto. Plus, the Final Thought examines why standing pat at the deadline may have been the right thing to do for Pierre Gauthier.
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) Carey Price: With the Habs heading
into the week in a bit of up and down stretch when it came to scoring, everyone
knew he was going to have to step up. With 3 wins, including 2 games with
40 saves or more, it's safe to say he did.
(Previous: 4 Average:
2) Max Pacioretty: For me, it's not even the quantity of the goals he's scoring (which is impressive in its own right) but rather the knack for scoring timely ones. That skill alone is something that can come in handy come playoff time. (Previous: 9 Average: 5.00)
3) Hal Gill: What really can be said here? It was about time he finally scored and then he goes and scores first in the next one as well. That may be a career week for him. (Previous: 12 Average: 14.52)
4) Andrei Kostitsyn: His hot stretch continues; not only did he get a goal but he was the only Hab to pick up an assist in all 3 games. He has quickly developed some chemistry with his new linemates. (Previous: 3 Average: 10.71)
5) David Desharnais: Mark Houle had a note earlier on Desharnais' efficiency and the same trend continued over this stretch of games. He averaged under 11 minutes per game, and still picked up a point in each one. (Previous: 13 Average: 9.38)
6) Scott Gomez: His game against Tampa Bay was terrific and he played reasonably well in the other two as well. We now know he's playing through an injury so it's safe to assume he won't be able to duplicate Saturday's effort regularly though. (Previous: 20 Average: 10.10)
7) P.K. Subban: The points weren't there for the most part but I was most impressed with the way he simplified things in his own end - less risks leads to more success for him. (Previous: 6 Average: 7.95)
8) Tomas Plekanec: His production woes continued for 2 of the 3 games but the feistiness in his play that we usually see at home was there in every game; a big positive sign for sure. (Previous: 5 Average: 5.24)
9) James Wisniewski: Like Subban, he kept things more simple in his own end and it worked to his benefit. Offensively, he was a little more daring, leading to his PPG in Florida. (Previous: 11 Average: 7.89)
10) Brian Gionta: He found his way onto the scoresheet in 2 of the 3 games but was by far the quietest on his line. He made up for it somewhat with some quality defensive play at least. (Previous: 8 Average: 6.67)
11) Roman Hamrlik: It was a quieter week but still a good one for him, as he shored up his defensive coverage noticeably. It'd still be good to get his ice time cut down a little down the stretch though. (Previous: 2 Average: 8.55)
12) Lars Eller: I'm dropping him this far due to the penalty issues he had. Aside from that, he had one of his better weeks and was strong at the faceoff dot as well (17/29 for 58.6%). (Previous: 7 Average: 13.65)
13) Travis Moen: He complements Eller and Kostitsyn well in terms of creating space but in the offensive zone, he continues to show why he was never used as a top-6 forward...aside from his time with the Habs of course. (Previous: 22 Average: 15.86)
14) Jeff Halpern: His greatest asset to the Habs, at least in my opinion, is his faceoff prowess. When he isn't winning the draws, he's not doing a whole lot else that gets your attention. (Previous: 10 Average: 11.19)
15) Paul Mara: Even though he sat for two of the games, he made a pretty good impression overall. He's not going to be able to play big minutes, but even the 15 or so he is playing could be a step up from what they have been getting from the #6 guys. (Previous: 15 Average: 14.67)
16) Mike Cammalleri: There's no real way to sugarcoat it, he was just basically invisible out there in every game. I'll give him a bit of a pass as he probably isn't at peak conditioning right now but he needs to be better. (Previous: 1 Average: 7.47)
17) Alexandre Picard: Another decent game from him, albeit a quiet one. He seems to be most effective after sitting for stretches of games, that's a bit of a rarity in itself. (Previous: N/A Average: 16.31)
18) Benoit Pouliot: If there was one player who could challenge Eller for the most inopportune penalty times, it was Pouliot. He drops lower than Eller for a little less production along with the fact he got benched in every game. (Previous: 19 Average: 10.62)
19) Brent Sopel: I thought he'd be a perfect fit for the Habs' system but so far, he has been really tentative and prone for bad giveaways. It's still early though. (Previous: 16 Average: 17.50)
20) Ryan White: Well, he hit a few people at least but did little else. Whenever Mathieu Darche comes back, his spot on the roster will be in serious jeopardy. (Previous: 21 Average: 18.40)
21) Yannick Weber: After sitting a couple of games, I thought there would be more urgency to his play. There wasn't. With Jaroslav Spacek set to be back near playoff time, it's looking more and more like his spot in the D rotation will be diminishing. (Previous: 18 Average: 15.36)
22) Tom Pyatt: I like how his speed complements his linemates but without a decent set of hands in the offensive zone, his effectiveness is really limited. (Previous: 14 Average: 16.85)
The Dog Pound
The extra frame was friendly to the Bulldogs as both of Hamilton's wins were in overtime.
Newly acquired Drew MacIntyre was thrown to the wolves early, getting the nod in every game in his first week with the Bulldogs.
|32||Frederic St. Denis||3||0||0||+3||4||0|
Goals: Nigel Dawes (33)
Assists: David Desharnais (35) (Active leader: Aaron Palushaj - 25)
Points: Nigel Dawes (53)
+/-: Brendon Nash (+15)
PIMS: Jimmy Bonneau (145)
Shots: Nigel Dawes (164)
March 9: Rockford vs Hamilton
March 11: Lake Erie vs Hamilton
March 12: Texas vs Hamilton
March 13: Rochester vs Hamilton
A Closer Look
I had a chance to take in the Bulldogs' 3-2 OT
victory on Sunday against the Marlies. I managed to take a few notes, both
good and bad, about some of the players (I won't cover all of them, it'd be too
long of a read).
- If there was one player who benefited the most from Nigel Dawes joining the Bulldogs, it was Olivier Fortier. He had been in a checking role all year but was thrust into an offensive one as a result of the trade and he fit in quite well. Of that line, he was the most dominant in that game.
- On that note, I was expecting a lot more from Dawes. Yes, he has some offensive skills, but there were 3 glaring issues I noticed. 1) His backchecking often involved leaking out and cherrypicking, that's not going to fly either with the Habs or in Hamilton. 2) If a pass to him wasn't precise, it was handled like a live grenade. 3) Skating - I gave up counting how many times he slipped and fell without help when it passed double digits...late in the 2nd. I'm pretty sure he was just having an off game, but all of a sudden I'm not quite as enthused about seeing him get called up.
- Gabriel Dumont was very impressive in this one. He's a feisty little guy, as advertised. On the penalty kill, of which the Bulldogs had a lot more of those than powerplays (but I digress there), he was the most dominant. Whenever the puck came near him, it found its way down the ice. He handled himself reasonably well in his fight as well.
- To say Alexander Avtsin has hit the rookie wall would be an understatement. He did very little in the game at either end, took 2 dumb penalties, and rightfully was glued to the bench after the 2nd one. All of a sudden, I can't help but wonder if he may be a loan candidate prior to Monday's AHL trade (loan) deadline.
- There are a lot of people who feel that Alex Henry can take a regular shift on defence at the NHL level. I just don't see it. Yes, he does well at angling players and can hit but I can see him getting blown by repeatedly if he were to be called up with the Habs. His skating was painful to watch at times and it got to the point where he didn't want to cross the centre line unless the Bulldogs established pressure in Toronto's end. As a 5 minute forward, he could be of use but certainly not as a defenceman.
- Aaron Palushaj and Andreas Engqvist also stood out positively for me in this game. Palushaj is easy to knock off the puck but his offensive instincts are impressive. If he gets a little stronger, he could be useful down the road. As for Engqvist, the puck wasn't in the defensive zone much when he was on the ice, largely due to his work back checking. I'd feel safe with him as a 4th line regular with Montreal next season.
- I've been saying for weeks that Hamilton's blueline is weak as a whole. This game showed me I was onto something. The pairing of Henry-Petruic had me and other Hamilton fans in my section cringing every time they touched the ice down the stretch due to their skating woes (Petruic in particular who has no business being a regular and was directly responsible for a Toronto goal), while Kyle Klubertanz clearly doesn't have the confidence of the coaching staff to play significant minutes either. For this team to make some noise in the playoffs, they need to get another quality blueliner in the fold prior to the Clear Day deadline on Monday.
- Lastly, those planning to travel to Toronto for a future Bulldogs-Marlies game can be assured that the fire alarm is fully operational. I'm hoping that the ringing will be out of my ears by the time the Bulldogs play their next game on Wednesday. As bad as it may have sounded on TV (for those who caught the game on CBC), it was much, much louder in person.
The trade deadline has nearly been gone for a
week now but this is my first chance to weigh in on the Habs' lack of activity.
Rarely is there a good time to stand pat when you're in the bottom half of the
playoff race but this year may just have been it. Why? The Habs
aren't 1 key piece away from being a true contender and the prospect system is a
little weaker now with so many players graduating from prospect status all at
the same time (5 this season already). Why then weaken it more when you're
not going to get the piece that takes the Habs over the top? I think the
falsely reported Tinordi and a 1st for Dustin Penner deal would have been a
terrible one to make and I'm glad it was just a report.
So if it wasn't right to buy, why not sell? The Habs are reasonably set to be a middle-ish seed in the postseason with what they have and this is a very similar team to the one that went deep last season. We saw how the Habs' system can work in the playoffs and if they're running a similar one come April this year, the team as presently constructed could make a little noise. Contend for the Cup? Probably not, but it wouldn't shock me to see the Habs make at least the 2nd round again. Given the injuries and 'flaws' of this roster, I'd take that. Getting that much more playoff experience (and if you're Geoff Molson, playoff revenue) justifies staying the course. Yes, deep down as fans it would have been nice to see the Habs be a little more active this past Monday but it could have been a lot worse. Let's just hope the old adage, "good things come to those who wait" holds true for the Habs heading into the postseason.