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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: Final player grades for the Habs' defencemen and goalies plus the latest stats from Hamilton's playoff run. Even strength production was a weakness for the Habs this season but who was the best at producing in that situation? Plus, the top stories of the season in the Final Thought, did the playoff run crack the top-3?
As the Habs are now finished for the season, I'm going to use the section normally reserved for the weekly Player Rankings to give my grades for the season. This week, the goalies and defencemen.
Carey Price: A+
He was the player with the most pressure on him all season and he delivered the
best performances more or less on a night in, night out basis. In the
process, he managed to eliminate a lot of the debate about which was the right
goalie to keep after last season. In the playoffs, he wasn't quite as
sharp but still played relatively well, especially in the first two games in
Season: 38-28-6, 2.35 GAA, .923 SV%, 8 SO
Playoffs: 3-1-3, 2.11 GAA, .934 SV%, 1 SO
Alex Auld: C All in all, it's hard to say he didn't do his job. He finished the season over .500 (albeit playing largely against weak opponents), didn't complain about playing time, while having good camaraderie with Price. It's far from a certainty but I wouldn't be too surprised if he gets another contract for next season.
Season: 6-2-2, 2.65 GAA, .914 SV%, 0 SO
A It was a little rough at the beginning
when he needed to be sat down to try and work some of the bad habits out of his
game but it was worth it in the end. Come playoff time, you'd be hard
pressed to find anyone who felt he wasn't the Habs' #1 D, quite the compliment
for a rookie. Becoming more disciplined will go a long way towards making
him even better.
Season: 77 GP, 14-24-38, -8, 124 PIMS
Playoffs: 7 GP, 2-2-4, -2, 2 PIMS
James Wisniewski: A- In the end, David Fischer wound up being useful to the Habs after all as it was his compensatory pick (plus a 5th next year) that was used to acquire the American blueliner. Wisniewski immediately provided another threat on the powerplay, something the Habs desperately needed. He tailed off a bit at the end of the season (no goals in his final 16 games including playoffs), it will be interesting to see if that affects his next contract.
Season: 75 GP, 10-41-51, -14, 38 PIMS (43 GP, 7-23-30, +4, 20 PIMS with Montreal)
Playoffs: 7 GP, 0-2-2, -3, 7 PIMS
Roman Hamrlik: B- Yes, he ran out of gas late in the year and the Habs paid for it in the playoffs. But think back to the season where despite being 36 years old (now 37 by the way), he led the entire team in total ice time, playing just over 1,760 minutes which put him 46th in the league. A lot of those minutes were productive too, as he put up his best offensive numbers since his final year in Calgary back in 2007.
Season: 79 GP, 5-29-34, +6, 81 PIMS
Playoffs: 7 GP, 0-3-3, -1, 6 PIMS
Josh Gorges: B- Prior to his injury, he was having another quiet but effective season vastly improving his blocks per game ratio. There were times that he looked uncomfortable skating out there, though that's understandable given the fact he had been playing without an ACL for so long. Having had surgery now, it's hard not to wonder if he'll have another gear we haven't seen from him come next season.
Season: 36 GP, 1-6-7, -3, 18 PIMS
Hal Gill: C+ The towering blueliner had another of his typical years, very little offence but a lot of blocked shots and general strong defensive play. The fact that more than one other Montreal defenceman has publicly campaigned to see him re-signed suggests he was a good player to have around in the locker room as well. In the playoffs, he only had a minus rating in one of the seven games.
Season: 75 GP, 2-7-9, -9, 43 PIMS
Playoffs: 7 GP, 0-0-0, -1, 2 PIMS
C He was well worth the 5th round pick it
took to re-acquire him as he instantly brought something the organization sorely
lacked, a physical presence, not to mention an actual healthy body. His
offensive days are long behind him but he showed he can still help a team.
Season: 53 GP, 1-5-6, +1, 88 PIMS (20 GP, 0-4-4, +2, 48 PIMS with Montreal)
Playoffs: 1 GP, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIMS
Yannick Weber: C It was an up-and-down season overall for him. At times, he looked like a good 3rd pairing player but at others, he struggled to get through period-by-period. All in all, he more or less cemented what a lot of us figured at the beginning of the year, he should be a decent 3rd pairing player that can play the powerplay.
Season: 41 GP, 1-10-11, E, 14 PIMS
Playoffs: 3 GP, 2-0-2, +1, 0 PIMS
Alexandre Picard: C The only criticism I really had of him was his inability to play reasonably well for consecutive games. Fortunately, as a reserve defenceman, he didn't have to play consecutive games all that often. It is somewhat easy to understand why so many teams have let him go already, he's nothing more than a depth blueliner.
Season: 43 GP, 3-5-8, E, 17 PIMS
Brent Sopel: D+ He was brought in to add depth and stabilize the 3rd pairing. He achieved the first goal but not so much the 2nd as he wasn't able to log more minutes than the others who frequented that pairing. In the playoffs he was a little better but again, couldn't log enough minutes to give the worn out blueliners some rest.
Season: 71 GP, 2-5-7, +6, 16 PIMS (12 GP, 0-0-0, -1, 6 PIMS with Montreal)
Playoffs: 7 GP, 1-0-1, -2, 2 PIMS
Jaroslav Spacek: D+ Statistically speaking, it wasn't that bad of a season compared to last but there's a reason why stats don't tell the whole story. He managed to get even slower which often made him a liability in his own end, a trend that continued into the playoffs. As far as bad contracts go, it's far from the worst out there but the Habs would be wise to see if there is another team that thinks they can get him going better.
Season: 59 GP, 1-15-16, +9, 45 PIMS
Playoffs: 7 GP, 0-0-0, -3, 4 PIMS
N/A Andrei Markov and Brendon Nash (not enough GP)
The Dog Pound
So far, the 2nd round has been a carbon copy of the 1st for Hamilton. After winning two at home, they then lost the next two on the road before winning Game 5, also on the road. At the time of writing, Game 6 was underway; stats from that game will be included in next week's HW Recap.
Hamilton's top line has largely been shut down and to their credit, the rest of the forwards have chipped in here and there, particularly someone who just joined the team.
|32||Frederic St. Denis||3||0||2||+4||4||2|
Goals: Nigel Dawes (8)
Assists: Kyle Klubertanz (8)
Points: Nigel Dawes (13)
+/-: 3 players tied with (+5)
PIMS: Alex Henry (28)
Shots: Nigel Dawes (40)
May 8: Game 6 in Hamilton
May 9: Game 7 in Hamilton*
* - if necessary
If Hamilton wins the series, this will be edited once the 3rd round schedule becomes available.
Montreal's ECHL affiliate, the Wheeling Nailers, trail the Kalamazoo Wings 3 games to 2 in the Eastern Conference Finals. Game 6 goes Tuesday while if necessary, Game 7 the following night; both games are in Kalamazoo.
Inside the Numbers
With all the talk of how the Habs were a powerplay team this season (and it wasn't all talk as it was somewhat accurate), I thought it would be interesting to see which players lived off the man advantage by comparing total points to even strength points (ESP). Here are the results:
In terms of an evaluation point, I set the ESP% mark at 70%. The first name that jumps out at me from the list is Gionta who had just 13 points that weren't at even strength. For the amount of time he spent on the PP, I expected to see him with fewer ESP's and more PPP's. Spacek and his 75% ESP ratio shows that he isn't bringing much to the powerplay which is one of the main reasons he was brought in two seasons ago. On the flip side, Gomez nearly had half of his points with the man advantage. That could serve as more ammunition for those who want to see his 5-on-5 time cut down next season.
As promised last week, here are my top 3
storylines from this past season:
1) Price speaks up, steps up: This one started right at the beginning of the preseason where fans inexplicably jumped on him one period in. He said he'd be better when it mattered and as I went into earlier, he was. He put the pressure on himself (when it was already there in a big way) and simply got the job done.
2) Subban emerges: A lot of people had high expectations for him and to say the least, he likely exceeded most of them. He had his rough patches but mostly learned from his mistakes. He is the most exciting prospect (of skaters at least) that the Habs have seen in a long time and the best is yet to come. It just makes the wait for next season that much longer.
3) No quit: Most of the team was injured at some point, we saw numerous minor leaguers come up just to ice a barely healthy squad or saw trades made to add some depth. Despite it all, the Habs for the most part didn't really change as a team, the usual highs and lows were there. To me, that says a lot about the character. Lots of reasons to quit but in the end, the Habs wound up making the playoffs and making at least a little noise, finishing among the final 10 teams for the second straight year. If you're going to go down, go down fighting which is what this team did.
If you have any questions/comments, please feel free to drop me a line at [email protected]