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HW Recap: Down to the cellar
HW Recap: Down to the cellar(2011-10-23 21:08 posted by B. La Rose)

In this week's HW Recap: Dissecting the good from the bad in the Habs' three losses this past week in the Player Rankings.  The Bulldogs fared a little better than their NHL counterparts as they actually at least managed to win a game.  Plus, my Final Thought discusses the positives that came from Montreal's peculiar preseason strategy.

Player Grades

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) Lars Eller: I know it's only a few games in but he seems to have picked up exactly where he left off in last year's postseason.  With Gomez out for a little bit, this is his opportunity to shine. (Prev: 3  Avg: 2.00)

2) Travis Moen: Rather than dwelling on the negative (if he's leading the team in scoring, no wonder they're last), I'll give him props for getting off to a good start and mixing in well on a few different lines. (Prev: 6  Avg: 4.00)

3) Andrei Kostitsyn: From the line that was the most dominant vs Buffalo (Pacioretty-Desharnais-Kostitsyn), he was the lone player to be at least a threat in each game; he also led the Habs in points for the week. (Prev: 7  Avg: 5.00)

4) Max Pacioretty: He's getting chances which is more than can be said for a few of the other forwards high on the depth chart.  At least his physical play was decent when his offensive game was sputtering. (Prev: 1  Avg: 2.50)

5) Mathieu Darche: As much as people have been complaining about him getting too much ice time, he did play well when he was out there.  Too bad the offensive numbers weren't there to reward him. (Prev: 17  Avg: 11.00)

6) Raphael Diaz: One of the interesting notes from Sunday's trade was the addition of a defenceman.  If there were any thoughts that Diaz was Hamilton-bound any time soon, that deal and his play should put an end to them. (Prev: 8  Avg: 7.00)

7) Carey Price: As much as his numbers weren't the greatest, he kept the team in it against Buffalo and Pittsburgh and made a couple of big saves late against Toronto.  More is needed but he's not playing terrible as some suggest. (Prev: 12  Avg: 9.50)

8) Tomas Plekanec: Like last week, I'm not going too hard on him as he is playing in too many different roles to really thrive.  He isn't hurting the team much but sooner or later he will need to start helping it. (Prev: 4  Avg: 6.00)

9) Mike Cammalleri: He wasn't all that good in Pittsburgh but he was coming back from injury.  Against the Leafs, he scored a key goal but was quiet otherwise. (Prev: N/A  Avg: 9.00)

10) P.K. Subban: Still too many mistakes (largely from over-aggression) for my liking but he did play better than the first week of the season.  Baby steps if nothing else for the sophomore. (Prev: 15  Avg: 12.50)

11) Alexei Emelin: He has been a non-factor in pretty much every game so far.  On the plus side, he has played a little better in each contest which is encouraging moving forward. (Prev: 13  Avg: 12.00)

12) Brian Gionta: Although he got a goal to try and spark a rally against the Pens, the captain was a little too quiet on the scoresheet this past week.  Him getting going would be a big boost for the offence. (Prev: 2  Avg: 7.00)

13) Erik Cole: His speed is nice and he's good with the puck along the boards but he needs to learn how to back check consistently and fast if he wants to get a boost in ice time. (Prev: 10  Avg: 11.50)

14) David Desharnais: He was really good against the Sabres before falling completely off the map.  Those hoping he'll step in for Gomez should be advised that in his last 24 games (including playoffs), he has points in just 3 of them. (Prev: 5  Avg: 9.50)

15) Yannick Weber: With Jaroslav Spacek down, he had a shot to show he could handle being a full time defenceman.  I think he just wasted a pretty good opportunity. (Prev: 11  Avg: 13.00)

16) Josh Gorges: Of all the people trying to do too much out there, I never thought it'd be him.  His success is predicated on simplicity and he was the opposite of that most shifts. (Prev: 9  Avg: 12.50)

17) Scott Gomez: Although (in my opinion) his play has been better than last year, the production needs to come around at some point.  Though most will surely disagree, he will be missed, especially in the transition game. (Prev: 14  Avg: 15.50)

18) Hal Gill: He looks a little too slow out there for my liking.  It seems to me I was saying this early on last season too and he turned it around then. (Prev: 16  Avg: 17.00)

19) Andreas Engqvist: Size can only get you so far unfortunately.  His defensive play was decent but he needs to bring more to the table the next time he's called up. (Prev: 19  Avg: 19.00)

20) Aaron Palushaj: He just looked overmatched in most of his shifts.  He has some potential but he needs some more time in the minors without question. (Prev: 18  Avg: 19.00)

The Dog Pound

What have we learned in the early stages of the season?  The defence needs a lot of work - Sunday's trade should help there at least.  Nathan Lawson more or less stole the game against Rochester, giving the Bulldogs their only win of the week.

Results:

October 18: Grand Rapids 3, Hamilton 0
October 21: Hamilton 3, Rochester 2 (SO)

StatPack:

Hopefully this will be the only week where every player actually contracted to the Habs fails to score a goal.  Good on the guys with AHL deals to help pull a win out.

SKATERS

# Player GP G A +/- SH PIMS
5 Alex Henry 2 0 0 E 1 0
6 Joe Stejskal 1 0 0 E 0 2
7 Joe Callahan 2 0 0 -2 3 0
10 Philip DeSimone 2 1 0 -1 8 0
11 Alain Berger 2 0 0 -1 2 2
12 Andrew Conboy 2 0 0 E 2 2
13 Zack FitzGerald 2 1 0 E 1 14
14 Michael Blunden 2 0 2 +1 3 2
15 Phillipe Lefebvre 2 0 0 -1 0 0
17 Mark Mitera 2 0 0 -2 5 0
18 Dany Masse 2 0 0 +1 1 0
19 Brock Trotter 2 0 0 -3 4 0
21 Ian Schultz 2 0 0 +1 1 2
23 Joonas Nattinen 2 0 0 -3 1 0
24 Brian Willsie 2 0 1 -2 11 2
32 Frederic St. Denis 2 0 0 -1 3 0
40 Gabriel Dumont 2 0 0 -2 2 2
53 T.J. Fast 1 0 1 E 0 0
67 Alexander Avtsin 2 0 0 E 5 0

GOALIES

# Player Record SV% GAA
52 Nathan Lawson 1-1-0 .915 2.40

SHOOTOUT - SKATERS

# Player G/ATT
10 Philip DeSimone 0/1
14 Michael Blunden 0/1
18 Dany Masse 1/1
19 Brock Trotter 1/1
24 Brian Willsie 0/1
32 Frederic St. Denis 1/1
40 Gabriel Dumont (GWG) 1/1
67 Alexander Avtsin 0/1

SHOOTOUT - GOALIES

# Player SVS/ATT
52 Nathan Lawson 5/8
 

Leaders:

Goals: Philip DeSimone (3)
Assists: Stafford/Willsie (3)
Points: Garrett Stafford (4)
+/-: Dany Masse (+3)
PIMS: Zack FitzGerald (31)
Shots: Brian Willsie (18)

(Among active players on the team)

Schedule:

October 27: Rochester vs Hamilton
October 29:
Hamilton vs Albany
October 30: Abbotsford vs Hamilton

Final Thought

One of the focal points for discussion about the current losing streak has been around the Habs' lineup for most of the preseason games.  While most teams were dressing regulars by the midway point, Montreal waited until the seventh game to really play most of the veterans together.  It's a fair point to suggest that this lack of cohesion could have contributed to a slow start.  However, as I'm tired of seeing nothing but negativity from most, I'm going to turn this argument around a little into a mini positive.  How bad could the defence be had they not went this route?

Because the youngsters were playing, a pair of current Montreal rookies benefited from seeing more ice time than they normally would have.  I think most would agree that both Raphael Diaz and Alexei Emelin are improving basically every time out; they pretty much did the same in the preseason.  If their preseason games were limited, they wouldn't be where they are today in terms of their adaptation to the North American game which would place the defence in even more tenuous shape.

We also saw in the preseason that Andreas Engqvist was at best a short-term stop gap based on his team leading six games played.  If he had suited up less, we'd still likely be in an evaluation period which means the decision probably wouldn't have been made to farm him out by now.  Instead, we'll see a new fourth line centre (for the second time in three weeks if you count the brief Blair Betts era) join the organization and suit up on Monday.  (We'll have a Writers Weigh In segment on the trade on Tuesday for those eagerly awaiting our trade reaction.)

Did we see too many of the surely Bulldog-bound youngsters in the preseason?  Of course we did,; the same could be said for most of the junior-bound ones.  But was it all bad?  As much as it makes me shudder just typing this, no, things could very well be worse if the acclimatization to the North American game for the pair of rookie defencemen was slower along in the process than it stands today.  I'm also pretty sure people wouldn't be happy if we saw Engqvist's 'evaluation period' continuing due to a lack of information gleaned from the preseason.  Surely the decision to go as young as they did wasn't perfect but some good most certainly came from it.

If you have any questions/comments, please feel free to drop me a line at b.larose@habsworld.net. 



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