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All in all, it was a fairly strong week for the
Montreal Canadiens, going 2-1 despite an iffy effort Saturday vs the Bruins. 
Meanwhile, in Hamilton, the Bulldogs continue to excel, and now are fighting for
the division lead, after a 2-0-1 record this week.  As always, we’ll take a
look around the NHL, as well as make note of which Canadiens prospects are in
Sweden for the World Juniors, and a final thought on the absurdity that is the
demotion of Maxim Lapierre, in the Recap.


Previous week’s grades in parentheses.


David Aebischer:  B  Another quality start, even if it
was just the Flyers. (B) 

Cristobal Huet:  C 
Strong against the Sabres, absolutely awful once again against the Bruins. 



Andrei Markov:  B+  The good outweighed the bad this
week, played well the first 2 games, not so much on Saturday.  (B+)

Janne Ninnimaa:  B  Another pair of quality outings, he
appears to have turned the corner somewhat.  (B)

Francis Bouillon:  B  Some big hits this week, and he
scored twice…too bad one was for the other team.  (B-)

Mike Komisarek:  B  Much more consistent compared to last


Sheldon Souray:  B-  Largely ineffective on the powerplay
this week, grade slips as a result.  (B)

Craig Rivet:  B-  Helped produce some offence…too bad
he helped the opponents get as many as the Habs.  (C+)

Mathieu Dandenault:  C-  Absolutely invisible on
Saturday night.  (C+)


Maxim Lapierre:  A  It certainly wasn’t his play that
caused him to be sent down. (A)  See final thought
for more on Lapierre.

Guillaume Latendresse:  A-  Kept his production up
despite a decrease in ice time, can he keep it up though?.  (B)

Alexei Kovalev:  B+  Production wasn’t the greatest, but it
wasn’t for a lack of effort.  Created lots of chances, but how long before
he goes back to his "other" style of play?. 


Chris Higgins:  B+  It’s like he never missed a beat, gives
the lineup a whole new dimension. 


Mark Streit:  B+  Another good effort for him, the fact
that he can drop back to play the point on the PP helps to keep the rest of the
defence fresh.  (A)

Michael Ryder:  B  Play has improved noticeably since
the return of Higgins.  (B)

Saku Koivu:  B  Mostly quiet week on the scoresheet. 

Radek Bonk:  B-  Got ripped off for one, possibly two
goals this week, while keeping up his quality defensive play. 


Sergei Samsonov:  C+  Lots of assists, but wouldn’t it
be nice if he scored one himself every so often?. 


Alexander Perezhogin:  C+  Had nothing go his way this
week, and then he was benched on Saturday, not a great sign. 


Garth Murray:  C+  Has improved week-by-week for the
last month or so, had a productive presence on the ice this week.  (C)

Mike Johnson:  C+  The slump won’t be over until he
actually shoots one into the net. 


Tomas Plekanec:  C  Effort is there, production…not so


The Dog

The Bulldogs had another strong week, earning 5
of a possible 6 points, and now have a 10-point cushion on a North Division
playoff spot.  They are also only 3 points out of the division lead,
although Rochester has a pair of games in hand.


December 20,
Manitoba 2, Hamilton 1 (OT)
Hamilton Goal: Chipchura (6)
29-28 Manitoba
  0/3  PK: 

Thursday, December
21, 2006
Hamilton 4, Manitoba 3 (SO)
Hamilton Goals: Locke (8), Kostitsyn (10),
Grabovski (9)
Shootout:  Kostitsyn 1/2, Locke 1/2,
Lambert 0/2, Milroy 1/2, D’Agostini 1/2
33-29 Manitoba
  0/4  PK: 

December 22,
Hamilton 2, Albany 1
Hamilton Goal: D’Agostini (8), Benoit (2)
32-23 Albany
  0/5  PK: 

3 Key Notes:

1)   Despite
being re-assigned on Tuesday night, C Maxim Lapierre only played in Friday’s
game against the River Rats, recording 1 assist and a +1 rating.

2)  Jaroslav Halak continues to excel, posting a 10-5 record, with a
1.48 GAA and .950 SV%.  He also has 5 shutouts.

3)  D Jan Hejda, an Edmonton prospect, has had a strong start with
the Bulldogs, earning 3 assists in 5 games, with a +6 rating and 21 PIMS.

the Rinks

Pittsburgh loses casino bid:  On
Wednesday, the Penguins learned that their partnership bid with the Isle of
Capri lost out on a bid that would have funded a new arena for the team.  A
day later, owner Mario Lemieux pulled the team off the market, and their status
for next season is in doubt, given that the arena lease expires in June. 
The NHL is apparently pushing for a March deadline as to where the team will be
playing out of next season.

Changes on the way:  The NHL is proposing significant changes to the
scheduling and division systems, that would potentially add Pittsburgh (if they
stay) and Columbus into the existing Northeast Division.  Teams would play
their own division 6 times, the other division in their conference 3 or 4 times
each, and 16 games vs the other conference.  If all goes well, it could be
made official at the All-Star Game next month.

Oldest hockey stick sold:  The world’s oldest hockey stick, made
between 1854-1862, sold this past week for $2.2 million (CDN$).  It will be
available for viewing at the Hockey Hall of Fame.  Interestingly enough,
the stick was put up for sale just prior to the events of September 11th, 2001,
but was subsequently withdrawn out of the respect to the families. 
Proceeds from the sale of the stick go to fanscharity.com and the World Charity
Award program, which promotes

the importance of charities and awareness of
charities among children.

In the

No fewer than 4 Canadiens prospects will be representing their respective

in the upcoming 2007 World Juniors.  They are:

Sergei Kostitsyn – Belarus

Juraj Mikus – Slovakia
Carey Price – Canada

Pavel Valentenko – Russia

We will return to our normal prospect profiles in next week’s edition.


The public (and media) outcry for the temporary demotion of Maxim Lapierre to
the minors is, to put it lightly, completely and utterly ridiculous.  It’s
certainly not like we didn’t know it was coming…last Sunday.  In order
for either Downey or Murray to be sent down (as many suggested), they would’ve
had to be waived Sunday in order for the standard 48-hour waiting period to come
into play, and as we all know, they weren’t.  You can argue if you will
that one should have been, but it’s not interim GM Pierre Gauthier’s call to
make, and something as simple as this is not worth bothering Bob Gainey for at
this point in time.  So, the options then are to keep him, and take a cap
hit of over $31,000,

wait for Begin to return and then send him back, or i) place Dandenault on the
IR so there’d be a roster spot for Lapierre for the 10-day period, or ii) hold
Begin on the IR for the full period.  The latter has happened, but that
wasn’t a guarantee at the time.  In reality, Lapierre was called up because
of injury, and in all likelihood, would be down in the minors today, even had he
stayed up past the deadline.  (Since he was an injury recall, he was
eligible to be demoted upon a player returning from injury.)  To make such
a fuss about this is largely unnecessary and a waste of your time as fans, as
well as certain media outlets who have blown this way out of proportion. 
Lapierre has made his mark on the team, and the club has certainly acknowledged
it; rest assured, he’ll be back with the team sooner than later.