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- Rene Bourque is off to his longest goal drought to start a season since 2007-08. However, he has a while to go to beat his slump that year where he needed 12 games to record his first goal.
We have hit the one quarter mark of the Hamilton Bulldogs season and the affiliate of the Habs is struggling to say the least. Through 19 games, they have posted a 6-11-1-1 record putting them last in the AHL's North Division. Here is a look at how each player has fared so far; despite the struggles, there are a few bright spots. In Part 1, the goalies and defencemen.
Note: To be graded, each player must have played at least 8 games with Hamilton this season.
Nathan Lawson: C+ Early on, he stole a couple of games for the Bulldogs which gave everyone hopes he really could be another Curtis Sanford for them. However, injuries and inconsistency have brought his early season numbers back to earth along with any expectations.
Season Stats: 13 GP, 5-6-1 record, 2.88 GAA, .912 SV%, 0 SO
Robert Mayer: D On the plus side, he has done what I thought he would going into the season which can't be said for a whole lot of the Bulldog players. Sadly, those expectations were extremely low as he sits 48th out of 51 qualifying goaltenders in both goals against average and save percentage.
Season Stats: 9 GP, 1-5-1 record, 3.99 GAA, .877 SV%
Frederic St. Denis: B+ With all of the injuries/departures, he was thrust into the top role on Hamilton's blueline. To his credit, he handled it quite well as his defensive game didn't suffer a whole lot while his offensive one was well improved. As the Habs' blueline slowly eases to help, his return will be critical for Hamilton.
Season Stats: 14 GP, 3-5-8, -3 rating, 0 PIMS, 19 SOG
Garrett Stafford: C+ He was brought in to take some of the pressure with all of the injuries on the blueline which he accomplished by logging heavy minutes. However, for one of the AHL's top offensive defencemen last year, he has had very little impact in that regard with the Bulldogs.
Season Stats: 15 GP, 3-4-7, -8 rating, 8 PIMS, 19 SOG (includes stats with Portland)
Joe Callahan: C To be fair, he had no training camp to speak of as he was signed right after Jeff Woywitka was lost to the Rangers. His campaign thus far has been up and down; if his offensive game is on, his defensive ones struggles and vice versa. As the blueline rounds back into shape, I suspect he'll become a more consistent player.
Season Stats: 18 GP, 1-7-8, -5 rating, 12 PIMS, 21 SOG
Alex Henry: C The captain has played better compared to the way he finished off the 2010-11 campaign. His minutes have been limited where possible and he's staying out of the box a lot more. This should pay dividends as the season wears on.
Season Stats: 19 GP, 1-0-1, -2 rating, 14 PIMS, 13 SOG
Mark Mitera: D+ A lot of fans, myself included, thought the trade to Montreal could get Mitera back on the right track. So far, it hasn't happened. He has no offensive game to speak of while defensively, he sits dead last in plus/minus. Not just on the team either, but in the entire AHL.
Season Stats: 19 GP, 0-2-2, -11 rating, 20 PIMS, 19 SOG
Joe Stejskal: D+ After making enough of an impression to see some playoff action last year, Stejskal has regressed a little. The physical play isn't there while like most of the other Hamilton blueliners, he has been prone to mistakes in his own end. He has been a plus player just once so far this year.
Season Stats: 13 GP, 0-1-1, -6 rating, 6 PIMS, 12 SOG
Zack FitzGerald: F I get that he was brought in for toughness but a defenceman leading the entire league in penalty minutes is never a good thing. Sadly for the Bulldogs, his best value is actually in the box where he can't make the mind-numbing mistakes that have plagued him so far this year.
Season Stats: 19 GP, 1-0-1, -10 rating, 91 PIMS, 10 SOG
N/A - Olivier Dame-Malka (only 6 GP), T.J. Fast (only 7 GP with Hamilton).
- Bulldogs First Quarter Grades: Forwards posted by B. La Rose