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It was a week of extreme opposites for the
Montreal Canadiens this week, as a strong outing vs Edmonton was followed up by
an absolute stinker in Toronto.  Meanwhile, in Hamilton, the Bulldogs find
themselves heading into next week on another two-game winning streak.  As
always, we’ll also have our weekly Canadiens grades and a look around the NHL,
plus a final thought on the Canadiens PP, in the HW Recap.

Player Grades

Previous week’s grades in italics.


Cristobal Huet:  B+ 
Looked fine vs the Leafs in mop-up duty.  (B+)

David Aebischer:  B-  Played quite well vs Edmonton,
last 2 goals in Toronto hard to stomach.  (B)


Craig Rivet:  A- 
Scored another key goal this week, while becoming a bigger threat offensively
and more steady defensively.  (B)

Mark Streit:  B  Pretty much the same comments as Rivet,
less the goal part, and the fact he’s playing several minutes less than Rivet,
impressive nonetheless.  (B-)

Mike Komisarek:  B  Even he’s joining the rush more and
more, steady on the back end, albeit without the big hits we’re becoming
accustomed to.  (B)

Andrei Markov:  C+  Barely even saw him this week. 
Sometimes, that’s not bad, but when he’s arguably the team’s top defender, it’s
not so good. (B)

Sheldon Souray:  C  Not getting his lethal shot off as
often, and is missing more and more.  (B)

Janne Ninnimaa:  D+  More and more lazy, stupid
penalties; now, they’re starting to hurt the team.  (C+)


Saku Koivu:  A-  He
lost Higgins, but he kept up his high quality of play regardless. (B)

Guillaume Latendresse:  B+  Gotta give credit where
credit’s due, his best week by far. (C)

Steve Begin:  B  Looking more and more like the Begin of
years past, looks much better with Bonk and Johnson. (B)

Mike Johnson:  B  Still getting the job done at both
ends, how he came back after the knee on knee with Matt Greene, I’ll never know.

Radek Bonk:  B  Had a nose for the net this week,
despite getting nothing on the scoresheet, leaps and bounds better than last
season. (B)

Alexander Perezhogin:  B-  Best player this past week on
his line, and folks, that’s not a good thing. (B+)

Michael Ryder:  B-  Still not scoring, but was more
active in the play, unlike a certain player you’ll see below, way below. (C)

Sergei Samsonov:  C+  Trying to create chances, hasn’t
made much of anything out of most. (B)

Tomas Plekanec:  C  Not hurting the team in his reduced
role, not helping much either though. (B-)

Aaron Downey:  C  Mixing it up a little more, nothing
more really. (C-)

Garth Murray:  D+  He’s not getting the ice time he did
last year, but has done nothing to merit it either.  May see a callup to
take his place soon. (N/A)

Alexei Kovalev:  F+  It’s one thing to be in a scoring
drought, but at least act like you care out there.  Isn’t forechecking
well, won’t backcheck, and continues to miss simple 10-foot passes, absolutely
unacceptable. (B)


For the second straight week, another actual
winning streak for the Bulldogs, who are beginning to show they may possibly
have something resembling talent on that team.


Friday, November 10,
Hamilton 6, Omaha 1
Hamilton Goals: Stortini 2 (5/6), Lapierre
(5), Milroy (5), Ferland (3), Locke (5)
36-20 Hamilton
  1/7  PK: 

Saturday, November
11, 2006
Hamilton 2, Toronto 1
Hamilton Goals: Grabovsky (2), Milroy (6)
43-37 Toronto
  2/8  PK: 

3 Key Notes:

1)  Don Lever finally gives
Jaroslav Halak some PT, and he responds with 2 wins, only took him 3 weeks to
figure out he has talent.

2)  Check out this from the gamesheet vs Omaha: Anyone see this one

3 – OMA
Chucko, 20:00 – Elbowing , 2 min
3 – OMA
Chucko, 20:00 – Fighting , 5 min
HAM Kostitsyn, 20:00 – Fighting , 5 min

3)  Matt D’Agostini is off to a nice start, 4-6-10 in just 12 games,
17th in AHL rookie scoring.

the Rinks

With contributions from Colin Pritchett.

Head Shots:  Bobby Orr jumped in to the debate on hits to the
head. The legendary defender is tired of seeing players injured and tired of the
lack of respect players show for one another. According to Orr, any hit to the
head should be a penalty, and the former Bruin defender has a point. There’s
nothing more dangerous in the game than a head shot, even if it’s a supposedly
legal body check that hits someone in the head. With the newer, hard plastic
coated pads, even a relatively tame hit can cause serious damage. More and more
often, players are being knocked out by hits and it’s no wonder he questions the
legality of those hits. This is an issue which will bear much scrutiny in the
coming months.

King of the Hall:  Patrick Roy is going to the Hall of Fame, and
lucky for him he doesn’t have to choose which team he’ll represent. Looking back
on his career, the winningest goalie of all-time is proud of his stints with
both the Canadiens and the Avalanche. Epitomized by his audacious wink in the
playoffs against the Kings in 1993, Roy led both his clubs to Cups in superb
fashion. Interestingly, though he’s been touted as a future NHL coach, a recent
interview on RDS had him insist he was more suited to coaching the junior ranks
and preparing kids for the next step, rather than moving into the NHL to coach.
On the other hand, the Hall of Famer will surely consider a management
opportunity in the future should one arise in the top league.

Boston Bust:
  Pre-season pundits had the Boston Bruins as one of the
better Eastern teams; one with a chance of winning their division and
potentially challenging for the Cup. Just a few weeks into the season, the
floundering Bruins are desperately looking for some help between the pipes and
some spark to turn around the franchise. Recent years have seen the once strong
Bruins slowly decimated by poor trades. While this season was supposed to signal
a turn-around in this trend, the opposite has occurred, and the Bruins have
crumbled. Despite off-season moves to secure the likes of Marc Savard and Zdeno
Chara, there’s still a lot to be done in Beantown.

A vote of confidence?  The Philadelphia Flyers recently took off the
interim tag off now-GM Paul Holmgren, saying they feel confident in him running
the team…until the end of this season…after everyone else the team wanted
over him turned the job down.  Really, how much can a former interim and
now lame duck GM do to turn Philly around? 


Does anyone else find the Canadiens current PP
to be overly predictable and much too ineffective?  Here’s effectively the
tactics they’ve used so far: 1) Everyone pass to Souray, hope he hits the net
with the shot, 2) Have Kovalev shoot from a ridiculously tough angle, 3) Chase
the puck back from your own zone and go in with no set plan whatsoever. 
Sadly, it’s really been option 3 that’s been the only remotely effective one
lately, which makes me wonder why no changes are being made to the strategies. 
The team has fallen out of the top-10 in success rate, down from 3rd overall
just two weeks ago.  Teams have figured out the plan already, time to get
creative and try something that isn’t one of the options listed above.  My
suggestions from the side: Try Kovalev with Koivu and Ryder, both wingers like
the tough angle shots, can’t cover both, and maybe Kovalev will get going there,
have either Kovalev or Samsonov on the point alongside Souray to make a little
more room for the big shot or to get a quick pass down low, or believe it or
not, try Mike Komisarek on the PP, he was very effective in Hamilton in that
regard, why not give him a chance?  One thing’s for sure, something needs
to be done and soon, as I’m almost yearning for the days of Pierre Dagenais’
booming shot on the powerplay, and when that happens, something is definitely