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It certainly wasn’t a week to remember for the Habs, waiting 6 days only to come out flat in an ugly loss to the Ducks.  Meanwhile, the Bulldogs did the seemingly unthinkable, put together a winning streak, 2 games and counting.  Another goalie gets waived, and a trio of prospects are headed West for a chance for a chance to represent Canada later this month.  This and more in the recap.

Canadiens Recap:

1 game, 1 loss sums it up pretty nicely for the Habs.  After having a whole week off to prepare for Anaheim, the Habs came out and put forth one of the worst performances of the season, falling 5-3 in a game that was nowhere as close as the score suggests.  On the plus side, Andrei Markov (suspension) and Mike Komisarek (personal) returned to the lineup, giving the team its full complement of defencemen.

The Good: With Saturday’s first goal, the Canadiens finally scored a goal on a 2-man advantage; they were the last team that had yet to score one prior to then.

The Bad: Given the way he’s played the last couple of games, this isn’t entirely bad, but when Pierre Dagenais, who generally plays 4-6 minutes per game when everyone’s healthy winds up playing over 20, you know you’re in trouble.

The Ugly:  Talk about setting the tone…sort of.  Rather than coming out full of energy, the Habs came out poorly and surrendered 20 shots in the first period on Saturday.

The Curious:  Throughout his tenure in Montreal, Jan Bulis has shown that he is not the offensive player he once was with Barrie of the OHL years ago.  Despite this, Claude Julien decided to play him on what remains on the top scoring line, alongside Richard Zednik and Tomas Plekanec, while allowing Chris Higgins and Alexander Perezhogin, who have some scoring ability, to play on the 3rd and 4th lines respectively. 

Bulldogs Recap:

What a week, Hamilton won more than they lost, going 2-1 on the week.  It started off Wednesday night with a tough 4-3 loss to Grand Rapids, a game in which the Dogs led 3-1, but were outshot 41-17 in the game.  Then, they hosted Syracuse, and used a 3rd period comeback to tie it at ones, before getting the extra point in the shootout.  The next night, it all came together in a 7-1 thrashing of Houston.  And for that matter, it was somewhat of a comeback then, as Hamilton trained 1-0 after the first, before reeling off 7 straight.  Garth Murray was recalled to the Habs this week (and actually had some ice time); Cory Urquhart was recalled to take his place.

The Good: The 7-1 shellacking on Saturday saw 7 different Bulldogs bulge the twine.  Hopefully this will take the monkey (or gigantic ape) off some of their backs.

The Bad:  Emotions killed Hamilton vs Grand Rapids.  After taking a 3-1 lead, they proceeded to take the final 6 penalties in the game, which wound up doing them in. 

The Ugly:  Even though he’s a rookie, D Andre Benoit is being counted on to help shoulder the offensive load, even more so with Ron Hainsey gone.  How has he responded?  2 points and a -4 rating in the last 13 games. 

The Curious:  Earlier in the week, the complaints started about how the Habs weren’t supplying the Dogs with a full squad.  Just prior to that, Ryan Barnes was released, with no explanation.  I don’t know whose decision this was, but this seems kind of strange.

Who’s Hot, Who’s Not:

The weekly summary of teams on the rise, and those falling faster than an Avalanche goalie (you know who I’m talking about.)

Rank Team Comments
1 New York Rangers
Huh?  The Rangers lead the league in points?  Where’d they come from?  On a roll lately too, 9-1 in last 10, no signs of slowing down.
2 Dallas Stars
These guys stay right where they are, Turco’s finally fully healthy, while Arnott and Morrow are starting to light it up.
3 San Jose Sharks
Have these guys lost since the Thornton deal?  Boy, does Mike O’Connell look bad now.  Marleau’s gone off the charts lately, no problems scoring now.
28 Washington Capitals
Ovechkin has finally cooled off, and so have the Caps.  Boy do they need some secondary scoring…and some defence…and a more consistent performance from the goalies.
29 Pittsburgh Penguins
They may have saved their coaches’ job for now, but if they can barely beat a team using a 3rd string netminder, they’re in trouble.  Who am I kidding?  They’ve been in trouble since week 1.
30 St. Louis Blues
Their prized acquisition in 2004 has now been waived because he can’t buy a save.  Does it get any worse?

Last Week:  1-Ottawa, 2-Dallas, 3-Tampa Bay, 28-Pittsburgh, 29-St. Louis, 30-Columbus

Around the rink:

Another week, another goalie waived:

Perhaps GM John Muckler was onto something when he dealt Patrick Lalime to St. Louis during the 2004 draft for a seemingly low return of a 4th round pick.  Here we are less than 18 months later, and Lalime has been waived, as St. Louis prays that someone takes him off their hands for nothing.  Given that Jocelyn Thibault and Sebastien Caron both cleared last week, there is absolutely no chance that this will happen.

Trio headed West:

This past week, 3 of Montreal’s top prospects were invited to Team Canada’s training camp for the 2006 IIHF World Junior Championships.  G Carey Price, LW Guillaume Latendresse, and C Kyle Chipchura all have a strong chance at making the final roster.  As it stands, 34 players are in camp.  The tournament begins Boxing Day.

Final Thought:

As I read Scott Radley’s article in the Hamilton Spectator about the Habs sabotaging the Bulldogs, I was more than puzzled to say the least.  To state that the Canadiens are not serious about having a quality farm team is ludicrous and without base.  Is the team struggling this year?  Yes, no one can deny that.  But it is the priority of the Habs to do what is best for the Habs, not their affiliates.  If 4 rookies that could have been in Hamilton this year make the team out of camp, so be it.  There is no obligation that the team must send one or more down to make the farm team better, nor will there ever be.  To replace those guys, Bob Gainey brought in who he thought would best serve the Bulldogs.  Have they worked out?  In a word, no.  Did anyone know what the new style of hockey was going to be like?  Certainly not Gainey, nor myself, nor Mr. Radley.  The fact is, even if the people in Hamilton don’t want to realize it, the Montreal Canadiens are obligated to to put a winning team in Montreal, while their affiliates are there to develop prospects, regardless of how well that team does.  And no one was complaining when the Habs opted not to recall another player from Hamilton vs Ottawa 2 weeks ago, opting to dress 17 players, and allowing Hamilton to ice a full complement of players that night vs Manitoba.  The system works both ways…