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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.
Slow starts didn't hurt the Bulldogs too badly as they came back from two goal deficits twice in as many games to pick up three of a possible four points as the Bulldogs moved out of the North Division cellar. Things weren't so rosy for Wheeling as they just won one of three games while one player who some want to see join them, Alexander Avtsin, is the focus of my Final Thought.
The Dog Pound
Even though it's nice to see the Bulldogs successfully come back from early deficits, the amount of deficits they're getting is becoming concerning. Hamilton hasn't scored the first goal since the second game of the year; they've allowed the opening goal in six straight.
News and Notes:
- The infirmary continues to grow for Hamilton. Defenceman Greg Pateryn fractured his elbow in Friday's game and will be out indefinitely. Louis Leblanc (ankle) will still miss a few more weeks although Cedrick Desjardins (groin) could be back in action sometime in the next game or two.
- Kyle Hagel, who played in the first five games of the season, has been a healthy scratch in the past three.
- Lines from the most recent game:
Nattinen-Berger-Stortini (even though Nattinen is a natural C, Berger has often taken the faceoffs)
The bottom six helped in the offensive zone, something we haven't seen much of in the early stages of the year.
SHOOTOUT - SKATERS
SHOOTOUT - GOALIES
Goals: Blake Geoffrion
Assists: Patrick Holland (4)
Points: Gallagher/Geoffrion (6)
+/-: Frederic St-Denis (+6)
PIMS: Michael Blunden (19)
Shots: Brendan Gallagher (30)
Syracuse vs Hamilton
November 9: Syracuse vs Hamilton (in Montreal)
The Farm's Farm
Despite having a surplus of players available to them (Ian Schultz finished out the week as a healthy scratch), goal scoring continues to be a problem for the Wheeling Nailers which has them in a tie for 11th in the ECHL's Eastern Conference.
Here is how the players contracted to Montreal or Hamilton fared:
- Chaput is the team leader in shots with 30 on the season. Schultz and Lefebvre are tied for the team lead in +/- by a forward (+2 each).
November 9: Toledo vs Wheeling
November 10: Wheeling vs Toledo
It seems like it was just yesterday that Alexander Avtsin was thought of as potentially a key piece of the Habs' future. Even though he was a fourth round pick, he fell in large part due to his nationality (Russian) and the lack of quality competition he faced. Today, he isn't even part of the Bulldogs' present let alone even remotely being in the discussion as a potential player to be recalled to Montreal down the road. Through eight games, Avtsin has played a grand total of zero minutes and zero seconds and he's not injured.
This leads to an important question - if he's not going to play much with the Bulldogs, why not send him down to Wheeling? I have to imagine - and this is merely speculation on my part - that there is some sort of agreement in the contract (either in writing or verbally agreed on) that he can't go to the ECHL. Otherwise, I can't see any reason why the organization would prefer to just have Avtsin practice over playing games, even if it's at a lower level. At this point, even going back to Russia would be an improvement. The added depth this year would cover injuries (or recalls if/when the lockout ends); basically, he needs to play. Lost among his struggles is that he's just 21 years old. It's not ideal to have prospects that age not playing. Sooner than later, I hope the Bulldogs see things the same way.
If you have any questions/comments, please feel free to drop me a line at [email protected]