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Although the Bulldogs were able to snap their longest losing streak of the season, it wasn't enough to keep them from dropping into sole possession of the AHL's basement. Wheeling continues their slow but steady climb from the cellar having picked up three of six points this past week. 2012 ushered in a new era of Habs' management, my Final Thought looks back at Marc Bergevin's tenure so far with Montreal as the top story of the year.
The Dog Pound
Despite being in dead last, there weren't many times where you could say the Bulldogs got fed up and let their emotions get the best of them. Saturday's loss in Lake Erie was an implosion as the defence struggled, Cedrick Desjardins got fed up and threw a fit on the ice to get pulled, and three Hamilton players got into 'frustration fights.' It's safe to say there's only one way to go from that type of effort, up.
News and Notes:
- Defenceman Cody Wild's stint with Hamilton ended in a hurry as he was released from his PTO after just two games.
- On the injury front, Mike Commodore is back to full health. Greg Pateryn is now skating and is likely 10-14 days away from returning while Joonas Nattinen suffered an upper-body injury and also is a couple weeks away from rejoining the lineup.
- Steve Quailer was a healthy scratch in Friday's win over the IceCaps. This was his first time being scratched during the season and according to him, the only time it has happened in his career.
- Lines from the most recent game:
Leblanc - Bournival - Gallagher
Blunden - Chaput - Dumont
Avtsin - Holland - Quailer
Hagel - Fortier - Stortini
Beaulieu - St. Denis
Tinordi - Commodore
Nash - Ellis
Brendon Nash's empty net goal vs St. John's snapped a personal 41-game goalless drought dating back to March of 2011.
Assists: Nathan Beaulieu (10)
Points: Dumont/Gallagher (18)
+/-: Dumont/Nattinen (+6)
PIMS: Zack Stortini (109)
Shots: Brendan Gallagher (100)
Hamilton vs Rochester
January 2: Hamilton vs Toronto
January 4: Rockford vs Hamilton
January 5: Lake Erie vs Hamilton
The Farm's Farm
The Nailers weren't able to keep up their six game winning streak (highlighted by Peter Delmas winning ECHL Goalie of the Week honours), losing a pair of games with their lone win sandwiched in between. However, they were able to pick up three of a possible six points.
As the Habs/Bulldogs have players affiliated with three different teams at the moment, the table below now covers all of those players, not just the ones with Wheeling.
Elmira vs Wheeling
January 4: Trenton vs Wheeling
January 5: Trenton vs Wheeling
January 6: Wheeling vs Reading
Over the past couple of weeks, I've been reflecting on the top storylines of 2012. Like last week (the lockout), my top storyline of the year is still developing. Of course, I'm referring to the new culture and identity that has come about from the hiring of new GM Marc Bergevin. Gone is the Gainey/Gauthier era that we've come to know for the better part of the last decade. Also gone are the perplexities in which the Habs operated over the past couple of years with Gauthier running the ship.
Although Bergevin hasn't had a lot of time to change the on-ice personnel (Brandon Prust has been his biggest player acquisition), the same can't be said for the off-ice staff. A total of six new coaches were hired for either Montreal or Hamilton, led of course by Michel Therrien, a somewhat controversial hire in itself. A player development department actually exists now rather than Trevor Timmins trying to handle that job plus his scouting duties. Speaking of scouting, half a dozen new scouts were added as well. Contract wise, both Carey Price and Max Pacioretty were inked to six year extensions but P.K. Subban is one of only a handful of RFA's that were unsigned before September 15th, something that has not sat well with a lot of fans.
Bergevin will have been on the job for eight months later this week. That's not a long time but normally that's enough time to begin to form some thoughts on his 'rookie decisions.' Yet, we sit here today and we're not in a position to really assess much of anything. The NHL players haven't hit the ice and as much as the Bulldogs are struggling, they're in a bit of a unique situation (a team that ices 1/3 rookie skaters nightly in a boosted AHL because of the lockout) so it's hard to draw too many conclusions about the coaching staff. Instead, we're left with all sorts of intrigue and hope, feelings that I don't think too many had when the buzzer sounded back on April 7th (a 4-0 win over Toronto). Bringing those feelings to many fans, that's a pretty good first act for the new GM.
On behalf of everyone here at HabsWorld, I'd like to take a moment to wish everyone a Happy New Year. Here's hoping that 2013 is a much better year for the Habs.
If you have any questions/comments, please feel free to drop me a line at email@example.com.