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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.
In this week's HW Recap: Piecing together the power rankings despite 3 straight shutout losses while in Hamilton, despite lacking firepower, the Bulldogs improved their playoff hopes. Looking ahead, the Habs have the easiest schedule for next week coming up, while the Final Thought looks at the real reason why Andrei Markov is skating once again.
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) P.K. Subban: Lost in the
frustration of all these shutouts is the fact he recorded a hat trick in
Minnesota. Even in the other games, he was one of the rare sources of
(Previous: 7 Average:
2) Carey Price: He was a bit off in Boston aside from a strong second period but he did give the Habs a good chance to win in the blankings from Buffalo and Washington. (Previous: 3 Average: 2.67)
3) James Wisniewski: In Minnesota, his offensive game was there but by the end of the week, he had basically become the top checking defenceman. (Previous: 2 Average: 6.92)
4) Alex Auld: He had his second straight strong effort against the Wild that also saw him pick up his first point as a Hab. In Boston, he wasn't as sharp but the same could be said for basically every other player. (Previous: 6 Average: 8.91)
5) Ryan White: His game in Minnesota showed flashes of his offensive potential, something we hadn't seen all year from him. In the other games, at least the usual physical game was there. (Previous: 14 Average: 15.63)
6) Travis Moen: He was the lone consistent offensive threat all week, getting at least a good chance or two in each game. All of a sudden, the 3 game shutout streak makes a little more sense now. (Previous: 9 Average: 14.71)
7) Andrei Kostitsyn: Scored what ultimately was the winning goal and for the most part, was decent in the other games, mostly hustling at both ends of the rink. (Previous: 5 Average: 10.71)
8) David Desharnais: Played a terrific game in St. Paul but was a complete non-factor at best in the other games. Part of it may be fatigue while the other part likely has to do with iffy offensive linemates. (Previous: 4 Average: 9.45)
9) Paul Mara: Though his presence alone doesn't make the defence corps tough, he certainly brings a lot more grit to the back end which proved useful in each contest. (Previous: 12 Average: 11.50)
10) Brian Gionta: He seems to be shooting when he should be passing and vice versa, one of the telling signs of a slump. Even still, he still made some good plays and was on the one line that actually generated offence the last couple of games. (Previous: 1 Average: 6.63)
11) Mathieu Darche: For someone who sat over a month with an injury, he didn't look too rusty in his return to the lineup. Here's hoping his offensive timing comes back pretty quickly. (Previous: N/A Average: 13.70)
12) Tom Pyatt: He's the offensive catalyst, I tell you. Kidding aside, the Habs have a losing record without him in the lineup and it's technically true, they haven't scored since he was sat down. (Previous: 19 Average: 16.91)
13) Roman Hamrlik: The effort is there, but he just looks completely dead out there, even at the beginning of games. Being moved with Sopel to cut his minutes a bit should help a bit. (Previous: 8 Average: 8.61)
14) Scott Gomez: The amount of grief he's getting right now just isn't right. In the last two games, he has been on the line generating most of the offensive chances and even more of the counter-attack. He can't be sent to Hamilton this season (he's not on the Clear Day Roster and demotion waivers have passed) so like him or not, he's here for the rest of the year. He deserves some blame for the current slump, but certainly it shouldn't stop at him either; he's not the only reason this team is struggling, he's just the only player getting blamed which isn't right. (Previous: 13 Average: 10.46)
15) Lars Eller: It was one of the more quiet weeks in recent memory for him. He still had a few chances, but he wasn't as big of an impact player as we've come to expect recently. (Previous: 10 Average: 13.04)
16) Benoit Pouliot: He had 3 assists playing in Minnesota for the first time since the trade. After that though, he went right back into the funk that has plagued him for weeks now. (Previous: 23 Average: 11.83)
17) Brent Sopel: I thought all in all he played somewhat decent but that giveaway late in the Washington game really stung, dropping his rating a bit. (Previous: N/A Average: 17.50)
18) Hal Gill: He was hardly noticeable out there. In times where only the opposition is scoring, that's probably not a good thing most of the time. (Previous: 18 Average: 14.83)
19) Tomas Plekanec: There were more than a few who were surprised to see him come back as early as he did vs Boston. Given how he did, perhaps he should've waited a little longer. (Previous: 15 Average: 6.13)
20) Mike Cammalleri: For all the grief Gomez takes, I'm surprised more hasn't fallen his way. Heck, you can't even use the 'playing through injury' excuse, both can use that one. I remain cautiously optimistic with him though as he went through a similar spell around this time last year and we all know how he was in the playoffs. (Previous: 11 Average: 8.27)
21) Jeff Halpern: When he's not being utilized properly on the draw as noted in Saturday's 3 Stars, he really isn't particularly effective anywhere else. (Previous: 20 Average: 11.96)
22) Aaron Palushaj: He might very well have the best case to argue if a forward has to be recalled from Hamilton: Since he was sent down, they haven't scored a goal. (Previous: 16 Average: 19.00)
23) Alexandre Picard: As has often plagued him this year, the more he plays, the worse he does. As others get healthy, he's going to have a hard time getting back in the lineup. (Previous: 21 Average: 16.74)
24) Nigel Dawes: He has an offensive touch as evidenced by his AHL success. However, he never seemed to be in a position where he could do much of anything offensively while he was up, which really limited his effectiveness. (Previous: 17 Average: 20.50)
25) Andreas Engqvist: I understand why he was brought up and I thought it made a lot of sense to do so. However, he really didn't get much of a chance to play and when he did, nothing really happened which got him benched. The quietest recall outing in a long time. (Previous: N/A Average: 20.50)
The Dog Pound
With basically all hands on deck (barring suspensions and recalls), the Bulldogs were able to muster up some crucial points in this stage of their season long road trip.
Fresh off their stints with the Habs, it didn't take too long for the usual suspects to find their way back onto the scoresheet.
|32||Frederic St. Denis||3||0||1||E||10||2|
SHOOTOUT - SKATERS
SHOOTOUT - GOALIES
Goals: Nigel Dawes (34)
Assists: David Desharnais (35) (Active leader: Aaron Palushaj - 28)
Points: Nigel Dawes (56)
+/-: Ryan Russell (+16)
PIMS: Jimmy Bonneau (169)
Shots: Nigel Dawes (178)
March 29: Abbotsford vs Hamilton
March 30: Abbotsford vs Hamilton
April 1: Hamilton vs Lake Erie
April 2: Manitoba vs Hamilton
As the Habs fight to stay in the 6-seed, here's the week ahead (March 28 - April 3) for the teams the Habs are battling with.
|3||Boston||92||74||vs CHI, vs TOR, vs ATL||0.538|
|5||Tampa Bay||91||75||vs OTT, vs PIT, vs MIN, vs CHI||0.552|
|6||Montreal||87||76||vs ATL, @ CAR, @ NJ||0.509|
|7||NY Rangers||87||76||@ BUF, @ NYI, @ PHI||0.568|
|8||Buffalo||85||75||@ TOR, vs NYR, @ WSH, @ CAR||0.566|
|9||Carolina||80||75||vs WSH, vs MTL, @ NYI, vs BUF||0.561|
APP - Average points percentage of the teams faced in the upcoming week.
This past week, we received word that Andrei
Markov had started skating briefly once again. As is often the case, it
didn't take long for speculation and reports to surface regarding a possible
return to health and contract talks that may or may not have taken place
depending on who you believe. From the sounds of things, Markov remains on
pace to be healthy enough to return late 3rd round or early in the Finals, if he
gets the doctor's approval which he likely won't given that this is the second
significant knee injury in recent months. However, this doesn't mean that
the skating is all for naught.
Regardless of which side you believe on the contract issue, the one commonality is that there will be a dialogue in the not-too-distant future and that there is mutual interest to bring Markov back. The fact that Markov is skating, albeit lightly and briefly, is a good sign moving forward in terms of trying to determine whether he will be able to return at a high level. If he starts now, where will he be in 2 weeks? A month? How he is improving will play a large role in Pierre Gauthier's willingness to offer him a new deal, especially in terms of length. It's one thing to be excited about the news that he's skating again, just make sure to temper that excitement over the coming months as this will be one issue that is handled later rather than sooner.