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- January hasn't been a kind month for Lars Eller. He has just 12 points in 44 games, his lowest PPG average of any month.
Offensive consistency eluded the Bulldogs last season and it's safe to say that it's happening again this year. In their two losses, Hamilton put up their highest shot totals of the season and could only manage single goals in each of those games. Consistency has also been a problem in Wheeling but they did manage to get a win for the first time in a while. The World Juniors are now just a month away, my Final Thought looks at what Montreal prospects could suit up in that tournament.
The Dog Pound
The old adage is that you can't score if you don't shoot. With a pair of 40+ shot losses, the motto for the week appeared to be "Shoot less, score more."
News and Notes:
- Starting the game off strong is something the Bulldogs haven't done in quite a while. In fact, they have allowed the first goal of the game a whopping 14 games in a row.
- Veteran NHL blueliner Mike Commodore signed a PTO and will likely make his debut this coming week. Speaking of the defence, Greg Pateryn (elbow) is still out 6-8 weeks.
- Goalie Scott Darling, who signed a PTO when Peter Delmas went down with an ankle injury, was released prior to the St. John's road trip and returned to Wheeling.
- Lines from the most recent game:
Blunden - Dumont - Gallagher
Holland - Bournival - Palushaj
Quailer - Boyce - Avtsin
Hagel - Berger - Stortini
Beaulieu - St-Denis
Tinordi - Ellis
Nash - Corbin
Rookie Patrick Holland is in a rough patch. He has zero points in the past three weeks and hasn't had a positive +/- rating in a game in over a month.
Assists: Bournival/Boyce (5)
Points: Brendan Gallagher (10)
+/-: Joonas Nattinen (+3)
PIMS: Zack Stortini (64)
Shots: Brendan Gallagher (55)
Hamilton vs Abbotsford
December 1: Hamilton vs Abbotsford
The Farm's Farm
The 20-day winless streak for the Nailers was finally snapped this past week, a week that saw shutouts in both games that Wheeling played.
Here is how the Wheeling players contracted to Montreal or Hamilton fared:
- Chaput is the team leader in shots with 45 on the season. Lefebvre (+2) is the team leader in +/- by a forward.
November 28: Trenton vs Wheeling
November 30: Wheeling vs Elmira
With the World Juniors set to begin next month, we'll be seeing information about training camp invites in the days and weeks ahead. Here are my assessments on the Habs' prospects and their chances of representing their respective countries.
Sebastian Collberg - Sweden: Regardless of his struggles to produce this season (although he has played better since dropping down to the second division), Collberg is likely to be a top six forward for the defending champions. I don't think he'll be the go-to guy (players like Mika Zibanejad and Filip Forsberg are strong candidates to be their top forwards) but he should see lots of ice time. For many fans, this will be the first time since being drafted that we get to see Collberg play an offensive role.
Alex Galchenyuk - USA: This one is a no-brainer, even with USA Hockey's reluctance to take too many players from the CHL. The Habs' top pick and top prospect should be a top forward and an offensive catalyst for the Americans. There are only two ways he doesn't make this team - either he gets hurt or the lockout ends soon with Galchenyuk going to training camp.
Charles Hudon - Canada: With his early season performance in Chicoutimi and his play for Team Canada both in the Summer and Super Series vs Russia, Hudon has made a very strong case to make the team. If the lockout were to end soon meaning that some of their top players weren't available, I'd call him a lock for the team. I think he will make the team but it's not a guarantee like it is with the others.
Brady Vail - USA: Four weeks into the season, I'd have said his chances were terrific. Unfortunately, his offence has tailed off recently (just three points in his last nine games) which will hurt his chances. If he can pick up his play and prove that he can provide a bit of offensive punch from a bottom six role (which is where he would be if he made the team), he still should have a good chance of making the squad. Otherwise, he will need to have a terrific training camp to earn his spot - something he is capable of doing.
Erik Nystrom - Sweden: Nystrom struggled in offseason camps for the Swedes which is the main reason I've placed him in this category. In terms of his performance this year he has exceeded expectations, picking up over a point per game in his junior league while recently earning a call-up into the Allsvenskan (the same league Sebastian Collberg plays in). However, with the strong depth Team Sweden has, there aren't many spots available and plenty of capable candidates to fill those spots.
Note: Tim Bozon (France) would be a lock to play for his country, however, with France playing in the second division, Bozon has indicated he will remain in the WHL during the tournament as he feels it would be best for his development.
If you have any questions/comments, please feel free to drop me a line at [email protected]