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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.
In this week's HW Recap: There were some strong efforts despite the Habs' struggles this week that are highlighted in the weekly player rankings. The Bulldogs continued their strong play, finally getting out of the basement in the West while my Final Thought takes a final look at 2011 with my top-3 storylines of the year.
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) Raphael Diaz: Five assists in a week for any defenceman is impressive, even more so for a rookie who saw his minutes decrease overall. Defensively he continued to be decent as well. (Prev: 4 Avg: 11.42)
2) Erik Cole: Ho hum, he just scored in every game. A power forward who is a threat to score on pretty much every shift, so nice to have that on this team finally. (Prev: 5 Avg: 4.67)
3) Mike Cammalleri: Though there are still some issues with his compete level shift to shift, he finally started producing at the very least. As a streaky player, this could be the start of a good run for him. (Prev: 12 Avg: 10.27)
4) David Desharnais: Despite getting what essentially amounted to a demotion (no matter how some spun it), he and his linemates (Cammalleri/Leblanc) made good things happen in a hurry. (Prev: 17 Avg: 8.58)
5) Lars Eller: He was shaky on the second Florida goal but beyond that he had a very strong week. Most impressive is his continued improvement on the penalty kill, providing an offensive threat beyond the struggling Plekanec in those times. (Prev: 14 Avg: 7.83)
6) P.K. Subban: He really likes to wander out there, he's more of a rover than anything. When he focused on positioning, he was quite effective particularly in sparking a transition game. We need to see more of that. (Prev: 15 Avg: 9.00)
7) Travis Moen: He had a really bad game against the Lightning but was good against Ottawa and one of if not the best forward the Habs had in Florida. (Prev: 11 Avg: 12.00)
8) Alexei Emelin: He showed this week why having some extra practice time can be beneficial. He was more comfortable out there and threw some strong hits as usual. (Prev: 19 Avg: 13.10)
9) Carey Price: He was strong against the Sens and for the most part against Florida (aside from that bad second goal) but his effort against Tampa was a rare stinker. (Prev: 1 Avg: 4.75)
10) Mathieu Darche: Despite playing a lot under Martin, he seems to have found his form from last season that made him a useful piece to have in the lineup most nights. (Prev: 13 Avg: 15.08)
11) Tomas Kaberle: The powerplay continues its slow ascension towards just below mediocre in large part due to Kaberle who quietly had a pair of points again this week. (Prev: 18 Avg: 10.25)
12) Josh Gorges: Defensively it wasn't one of his finer weeks although I'm willing to chalk up some of the positional issues with having to cover for Subban who played like an old time rover at times. (Prev: 10 Avg: 7.83)
13) Louis Leblanc: He had a very impressive game against the Sens, likely his best of the season. The momentum died there though as he was very quiet in Tampa Bay. (Prev: 16 Avg: 14.80)
14) Max Pacioretty: While Eller and Cole found success on the line, Pacioretty struggled. He wasn't shooting much and seemed content to defer most of the time to his linemates. (Prev: 8 Avg: 5.55)
15) Tomas Plekanec: He's in quite the funk at the moment and even when he tried to elevate his physical play as he did in Tampa, he still struggled, that time with penalty issues. (Prev: 3 Avg: 6.25)
16) Michael Blunden: He was out of his element on a scoring line which dropped him down a bit. He has been quite useful since the coaching change and is making it hard to send him down once the injured forwards return. (Prev: 7 Avg: 16.67)
17) Andrei Kostitsyn: He was all but invisible all week long. I think he needs to be moved away from Plekanec right now to see if he can't get going as this team needs him to provide that secondary scoring. (Prev: 6 Avg: 7.40)
18) Hal Gill: His 5-on-5 play was a real concern, to the point where he was simply benched in Florida. A night or two off would do him a world of good. (Prev: 9 Avg: 13.64)
19) Yannick Weber: Reports suggest he actually played in the Florida game. Sarcasm aside, he didn't do a whole lot to justify being in on a more regular basis. (Prev: 20 Avg: 15.08)
20) Petteri Nokelainen: I'm now starting to see why Phoenix accepted a 7th rounder for him. He appears to have lost the confidence of the coaches. (Prev: 21 Avg: 17.70)
The Dog Pound
Although their point streak was snapped during the week, it was still a productive week for the Bulldogs who have at least propelled themselves out of the conference cellar. They still sit last in the division but are only a handful of points out of second.
For those hoping that the Habs' shootout woes could be helped by the odd Bulldog on a callup, you will be disappointed. Hamilton's results in that are even worse than Montreal's.
|32||Frederic St. Denis||4||0||3||E||9||0|
SHOOTOUT - SKATERS
SHOOTOUT - GOALIES
Goals: Andreas Engqvist (9)
Assists: St. Denis/Willsie (13)
Points: Palushaj/St.Denis/Willsie (16)
+/-: Andreas Engqvist (+6)
PIMS: Zack FitzGerald (122) (tied for the league lead)
Shots: Brian Willsie (125)
January 6: Syracuse vs Hamilton
January 7: Hamilton vs Toronto
January 8: Oklahoma City vs Hamilton
As 2011 has come to an end, it's time to reflect on the year that was and look at what made the biggest headlines. Here are my top-3 storylines.
1) Pacioretty vs Chara: This would have made the list regardless of the silliness that occurred after with the 911 calls and the police investigation. The hit derailed an extremely promising season and seemed to leave the Habs in a lull for a few weeks. The fact the NHL changed a rule to make the stanchions safer signifies how important a story this was not only in Montreal but the league as well.
2) Martin fired, Cunneyworth hired: Although I suspect we haven't seen the last of this story yet, the immediate aftermath with regards to Cunneyworth's promotion once again was heard and discussed throughout the league. The fact that the team has regressed in the standings since then is another sub-plot that will surely be worth following in the early weeks and months of 2012.
3) Youth infusion: Although most are struggling at the moment, we saw numerous young players step up and become important pieces of this squad. Subban, Pacioretty, Eller, and Desharnais all came up full time last year while Emelin and Diaz are becoming important cogs with Leblanc impressing as well. There is a promising young core being formed with this team in large part due to their respective successes in 2011.
If you have any questions/comments, please feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.