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- January hasn't been a kind month for Lars Eller. He has just 12 points in 43 games, his lowest PPG average of any month.
In this week's HW Recap: The Mike Cammalleri deal is still getting all the attention but there were still some standout efforts despite a losing week for the Habs. The Bulldogs weren't able to carry last week's momentum over as they just managed one win. Plus, my Final Thought looks at the feeling most fans felt after Thursday's trade and why it will be a familiar one in the coming weeks.
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) Max Pacioretty: He looked a little off at the beginning of the week before knocking off three straight goals over the weekend (spanning both games). It appears that for now he has found his second wind. (Prev: 5 Avg: 5.15)
2) David Desharnais: Every strong goal scorer needs a good setup guy and Desharnais was that last week. Of the seven goals the Habs scored, he had a hand in five of them. (Prev: 8 Avg: 8.07)
3) Erik Cole: He was the 'weakest link' on the line but that doesn't mean he didn't have a good week. I suspect some tougher days will be ahead as other teams start to game plan around him more often. (Prev: 6 Avg: 4.64)
4) Peter Budaj: To come in after sitting for numerous weeks and shut down the league leading team is quite the accomplishment. He made a strong case to see a little more crease time. (Prev: N/A Avg: 8.00)
5) Tomas Plekanec: The last two games were his best in a long time. He played with confidence and aggression while being dominant in the faceoff circle. (Prev: 15 Avg: 6.79)
6) Carey Price: When you look at his games individually, he didn't really stand out in any of them. But cumulatively, it was an efficient week for Price, lack of goal support is what basically did him in. (Prev: 7 Avg: 5.00)
7) P.K. Subban: His defensive decision making was improved which was nice to see. I wish he'd stop just trying to shoot everything as hard as he could though, mix it up a little, try a wrist shot. (Prev: 12 Avg: 9.07)
8) Josh Gorges: He had more of an edge to his game which helped and hurt him. It seemed to take him out of position at times; he's better when he just focuses on being in the shooting lanes and angling the forwards. (Prev: 9 Avg: 7.93)
9) Michael Blunden: He's playing more than he should right now (I'm not sure he played 17 minutes in any Hamilton game this yet) but he's showing flashes of why he was a second round pick a few years ago. (Prev: 11 Avg: 15.00)
10) Scott Gomez: Fortunately, he has come back playing the way he was prior to his groin injury. If Cunneyworth eases him in gradually, I think he can have a positive impact on the rest of this season. (Prev: N/A Avg: 14.33)
11) Hal Gill: Another player who got better as the week went on. He seems to have more life in him now, I suspect that's due to having his minutes reduced. That can only help his trade value if he keeps this up. (Prev: 18 Avg: 13.77)
12) Rene Bourque: There were some good and bad moments with him but the former outweighed the latter. If he can produce comparable numbers to those in Calgary in a 2nd/3rd line role, he'll be a very useful piece. (Prev: N/A Avg: 12.00)
13) Lars Eller: His line was good to start the week but was the weakest of the three main trios by the end. Defensive lapses aren't going to stand as on the whole, he isn't bringing enough to the table offensively to justify playing him big minutes regardless of his defensive effort. (Prev: 1 Avg: 7.71)
14) Travis Moen: Based on his play all year, I have at least some sort of offensive expectation for him, especially since he's playing more minutes. But the highlight of his week was a meaningless fight. (Prev: 4 Avg: 11.57)
15) Tomas Kaberle: The momentum that came just after the trade seems to be fading but Kaberle is still producing some offence at times. He needs to be better on the PP though as that's his primary role right now. (Prev: 13 Avg: 11.50)
16) Yannick Weber: I gave him credit earlier in the week for coming in and scoring after complaining about not playing. In his other two games, he went back to showing why he was in the press box. (Prev: N/A Avg: 15.15)
17) Andrei Kostitsyn: After looking like the dynamic player we all know he can be a couple weeks back, we saw the largely disinterested version of the enigmatic Belarusian. (Prev: 2 Avg: 7.75)
18) Raphael Diaz: There really isn't a whole lot to comment on from him this week, he was rarely noticeable in any of the games. Given the flux of the defence corps, that's not necessarily too much of a bad thing. (Prev: 16 Avg: 12.21)
19) Chris Campoli: His game against the Blues was a struggle but he was better against Ottawa. Right now, it's all about building his value up which means he needs to start playing more even if it is as a 7th D. (Prev: 19 Avg: 19.25)
20) Brian Gionta: That was about as underwhelming return to the lineup as you'll ever see. The stick throw was his highlight and lowlight all in one. (Prev: 14 Avg: 10.82)
21) Mathieu Darche: He continues to be effective on the penalty kill which really is the only thing keeping him in the lineup at the moment as the rest of his game is non-existent. (Prev: 17 Avg: 15.64)
22) Alexei Emelin: The insane hysteria aside, he deserved to be sat down after a bad game in Boston. Unfortunately, he wasn't any better when he came back. In his defence, he seemed to play with nearly everyone which is not going to help his development any. (Prev: 3 Avg: 13.00)
23) Mike Cammalleri: I was hoping that after his comments there would have been a change in his game. Alas, it wasn't to be. His Calgary debut wasn't overly impressive either; yes he scored but he looked very much like the same player he was in his final days with the Habs. (Prev: 10 Avg: 11.23)
24) Petteri Nokelainen: With Gomez back giving the team four centres beyond Nokelainen, his usefulness is dwindling quickly. (Prev: 20 Avg: 18.42)
The Dog Pound
Unfortunately, the Bulldogs weren't able to carry forth their momentum from their last 3-in-3 stretch but were at least able to pick up a win to hold onto 3rd in their division.
Hamilton's top players carried the offensive load, however, the supporting cast was largely ineffective.
|32||Frederic St. Denis||3||0||0||+1||9||2|
Goals: Andreas Engqvist (13)
Assists: Stafford/Willsie (15)
Points: Aaron Palushaj (25)
+/-: Andreas Engqvist (+11)
PIMS: Zack FitzGerald (141)
Shots: Brian Willsie (143)
January 18: Milwaukee vs Hamilton
January 21: Toronto vs Hamilton (at Ivor Wynne Stadium)
We sit now six weeks before the NHL's Trade Deadline with the Habs very much looking like they're going to be on the outside looking in and selling as we saw with the Mike Cammalleri trade. In that deal, we saw an awful lot of comments along the lines of, "That's it?" with regards to the return Montreal received. As fans, we better get used to that over the coming weeks. That's by no means an indictment on GM Pierre Gauthier either, just that the majority of pieces that the Habs will be selling aren't exactly the most exciting to other GM's.
Beyond possibly Andrei Kostitsyn (if he's not extended), most of the players that will be available are quality depth pieces such as Hal Gill and Travis Moen. There will be no shortage of suitors but almost every offer will be a draft pick/comparable prospect and if necessary (depending on the acquiring teams' cap situation), a salary dump. From what I've been reading, I get the sense that fans are expecting overly high value for a lot of the players the Habs will be selling. Teams are willing to overpay in the waning days and hours, but not excessively unless they're getting a core piece in return. That's just not players the Habs are likely to sell.
Montreal, should they choose to go this route, has an opportunity here to help replenish a prospect base that in recent years is starting to look a little thin. There's certainly nothing wrong with that either. There looks to be more sellers than in recent years though so if the Habs are asking too much, teams will go elsewhere. There are good deals to be had but don't expect Gauthier to spin any miracles and pry a key young asset or a 1st round pick away. Expectations should be kept in check; otherwise you're going to be in for a long six weeks.
If you have any questions/comments, please feel free to drop me a line at [email protected]