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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.
Although it hasn't been anywhere near as bad as last year, scoring has been an issue through the first half of the season for the Hamilton Bulldogs who have the lowest goal total of any team currently in a playoff spot. Many of the forwards that were expected to shoulder the load have tailed off in recent weeks leading to several lower grades for the second quarter.
Players must have played in at least five games to receive a grade. Forwards that are no longer with the team will not be graded.
Sven Andrighetto: B-: The Swiss rookie came back down to Earth a bit after a surprisingly hot start to the season. He still is a fixture on the top line but opposing teams are starting to key in on him a bit more, especially with some other top liners scuffling. Now fully recovered from injury, Hamilton will be counting on him to pick up the pace in the second half, much like current Hab Michael Bournival did last year.
2nd Quarter Stats: 11 GP, 1 goal, 5 assists, 6 points, -5 rating, 10 PIMS,
Season Stats: 26 GP, 8 goals, 9 assists, 17 points, -1 rating, 18 PIMS, 62 shots
Michael Blunden: B+: When some of the other forwards went down with injuries, the team called on Blunden to take on a bigger workload. Surprisingly, he handled the extra responsibilities well and was able to keep producing against tougher opponents. He finds himself as a regular on the Bulldogs' second line (also their checking unit) and despite his stint with the Habs earlier in the year, has played well enough to warrant consideration for another recall at some point.
2nd Quarter Stats: 19 GP, 3 goals, 7 assists, 10 points, -1 rating, 23 PIMS, 52 shots
Season Stats: 31 GP, 8 goals, 11 assists, 19 points, +5 rating, 48 PIMS, 78 shots
Gabriel Dumont: A-: After an awful first quarter, Dumont, now one of the grizzled veterans on the Bulldogs, was able to rediscover his scoring touch. Like Blunden, he saw his role elevated when the injury bug struck and since then, he has slotted in comfortably as Hamilton's second line centre. Dumont is going to need to keep up this pace if the Bulldogs are going to continue their push for a playoff spot.
2nd Quarter Stats: 19 GP, 7 goals, 3 assists, 10 points, +3 rating, 19 PIMS, 55 shots
Season Stats: 36 GP, 8 goals, 9 assists, 17 points, even rating, 46 PIMS, 94 shots
Stefan Fournier: C: Although the numbers don't really bear it out, Fournier was a useful player for Hamilton in this stretch of games. After being in and out of the lineup early on, he has taken a regular shift, has upped his physical play, and really is beginning to adapt to the professional level. I don't expect his offensive game to take a huge jump in the second half though, his development curve is still going to be slow.
2nd Quarter Stats: 14 GP, 1 goal, 1 assist, 2 points, even rating, 53 PIMS,
Season Stats: 23 GP, 1 goal, 2 assists, 3 points, even rating, 75 PIMS, 34 shots
Patrick Holland: C+: Despite playing on the top line for much of the second quarter, Holland's offensive game has regressed from his rookie AHL campaign. He still is playing a quality two-way game, however, which likely has kept him on the number one unit despite his struggles. Also, for anyone wondering, that PIM total you see below is not a typo. In his first 100 pro games (between Hamilton and Montreal), he has taken just four minor penalties.
2nd Quarter Stats: 17 GP, 3 goals, 4 assists, 7 points, +2 rating, 0 PIMS,
Season Stats: 25 GP, 4 goals, 6 assists, 10 points, +3 rating, 0 PIMS, 30 shots
Louis Leblanc: B-: The timing of Leblanc's recall was actually a bit curious given that he is in the biggest offensive drought of the season at the moment. Part of that, however, is attributed to the fact he has been buried on the third line but his play has tapered off since the beginning of the year. With that in mind and his waiver eligibility kicking in next season, it may be fair to speculate that this stint in Montreal may be his last chance if it doesn't go well.
2nd Quarter Stats: 19 GP, 3 goals, 5 assists, 8 points, +2 rating, 10 PIMS,
Season Stats: 35 GP, 9 goals, 11 assists, 20 points, +3 rating, 30 PIMS, 90 shots
Maxime Macenauer: C+: Although he has taken a couple of steps back and isn't the player he was just a couple of seasons ago with Anaheim, Macenauer has been one of the unsung heroes for the Bulldogs this year. He has been reliable in his own end and over the past few games is starting to make an impact on the scoresheet as well. Of the players who began the season on tryouts, Macenauer is the only one to have earned a full-season contract.
2nd Quarter Stats: 19 GP, 2 goals, 4 assists, 6 points, +2 rating, 22 PIMS,
Season Stats: 36 GP, 3 goals, 7 assists, 10 points, even rating, 28 PIMS, 54 shots
Joonas Nattinen: B-: For some reason, coach Sylvain Lefebvre really doesn't seem to want to play Nattinen anywhere but the fourth line and has at times put players from the ECHL ahead of him. He has been an effective player despite limited ice time which I think earned him the brief stint with the big club. If given the opportunity, I think he can step up in the second half but if history repeats itself, he'll be mired on the bottom line for a while yet.
2nd Quarter Stats: 18 GP, 3 goals, 3 assists, 6 points, +2 rating, 8 PIMS,
Season Stats: 37 GP, 5 goals, 6 assists, 11 points, +2 rating, 12 PIMS, 35 shots
Jordan Owens: D+: The offence hasn't translated since the 27 year old was signed out of the ECHL. If the name doesn't sound too familiar, I wouldn't worry much as he may not be around much longer. As a player who counts against Hamilton's veteran quota (there is a limit in the minors as to how many veterans you play), Owens hasn't done enough to justify keeping him around past the end of his tryout.
2nd Quarter, Season Stats: 11 GP, 0 goals, 2 assists, 2 points, -2 rating, 19 PIMS, 20 shots
Martin St. Pierre: B+: He was brought in to be the #1 scorer and St. Pierre has done that but has done so rather quietly. He isn't dominating like the expectation was when he signed (remember he's the highest paid two-way skater in franchise history). A bigger second half is required and he has shown in the past that he is capable of doing just that. If he can step it up, Hamilton's playoff odds will get a big boost.
2nd Quarter Stats: 19 GP, 4 goals, 9 assists, 13 points, -5 rating, 10 PIMS,
Season Stats: 35 GP, 7 goals, 20 assists, 27 points, -7 rating, 26 PIMS, 56 shots
Nick Tarnasky: C+: For some reason, the coaches like to play tough guys in scoring roles which has given Tarnasky a lot of playing time this season. He is the other winger on the checking line alongside Dumont and Blunden and has fared reasonably well in that role despite not having the offensive prowess that the other two had in this quarter of the year. That said, here's hoping for a reduced role in the second half, freeing up more ice time for the prospects.
2nd Quarter Stats: 19 GP, 2 goals, 3 assists, 5 points, +4 rating, 40 PIMS,
Season Stats: 38 GP, 9 goals, 4 assists, 13 points, -8 rating, 67 PIMS, 53 shots
Christian Thomas: C: This is a case where the numbers look better than they are as most of his points came in a two-game stretch. The rest of the time, he hasn't been a threat on too many nights. Like Leblanc, it's puzzling why he seems to be locked into a third line spot but Thomas needs to be better to force the coaches to move him up in the lineup. He had a better second half in his rookie campaign and will need to do so again here as he is one of the Bulldogs' few pure snipers.
2nd Quarter Stats: 14 GP, 2 goals, 6 assists, 8 points, +2 rating, 12 PIMS,
Season Stats: 19 GP, 3 goals, 8 assists, 11 points, -1 rating, 14 PIMS, 51 shots
N/A Grades: Ben Duffy, Stephen MacAulay, Scott Zurevinski (all released), Steve Quailer (only 2 GP)
- Hamilton 2nd Quarter Grades: Goaltenders and Defencemen posted by B. La Rose
- Hamilton First Quarter Grades: Goaltenders and Defencemen posted by B. La Rose
- Hamilton First Quarter Grades: Forwards posted by B. La Rose