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The Habs managed to keep pace this week for the
most part, winning a pair out of their three critical games, but still remain
11th in the East.  Meanwhile, the Bulldogs essentially lost a shot at first
after failing to sweep a home-and-home series against a weak team.  We’ll
take a closer look at the standings and the schedule for a week ahead, and a
final thought on how a lot of fans seem to have a very short-term memory, in the


Comparatives in brackets.


Jaroslav Halak
A-  A strong bounce back game, but both
goals that eluded him were stoppable shots. (D-)

David Aebischer
B-  Quality start vs the Isles, coughed
up a few ugly ones in Pittsburgh, nothing the fans weren’t really surprised
with. (B-)


Mike Komisarek: 
  Is he ever good at getting under the skin of the Leafs or
what?  (B-)

Andrei Markov: 
B  The alleged offensive defenceman
actually provided some offence this week in the form of a rare goal. (B-)

Janne Ninnimaa:  B  A
surprising quality week from him, has he finally found his game after leaving it
in Finland for 6 months?  (N/A)

Francis Bouillon:  B  
Another one who brings his top game vs the Leafs, finally has a few games on the
plus side.  (C+)

Sheldon Souray:  B  He
produced and didn’t kill the team defensively all that much. (C-)

Josh Gorges:  C  I see
potential in him, but thus far, his NHL abilities are a little disappointing.


Guillaume Latendresse: 
  Has found his second wind, and is providing at least some
secondary scoring. (A-)

Andrei Kostitsyn:  A-  Making
the most of his callup this time, a 4-point week and a shootout winner.

Michael Ryder:  B+  Created a
lot of good chances this week, driving to the net with force. (C)

Tomas Plekanec:  B  I keep
waiting for the offence to slow down, but it’s not.  Time for a new
shootout move though, everyone knew what was coming before he hit the blueline.

Saku Koivu:  B  Maybe this
goal gets his offence going again. (B-)

Chris Higgins:   B   Needs
to play like this more consistently, been a lot of up-and-down weeks lately.

Steve Begin:  B 
Consistently bringing the energy was lacking earlier on in the season.

Mark Streit:  B- 
Didn’t create like he did earlier on as a forward, his linemates I’m sure played
a part in that. (B)

Maxim Lapierre:
  B-  A little
too caught up in the agitator role, he’s on an offensive line, need to create
some chances regularly. (B)

Alexei Kovalev:  C+  Quiet
game, but given the back problems, he deserves a pass this week. (D)

Mathieu Dandenault:  C+  Hard
to judge as a 4th liner winger based on prior expectations, this is the
half-hearted grade of the week. (C+)

Garth Murray:
  C+  Shouldn’t
let the scratching deter him, someone had to go for Kovalev’s return. (B)

Mike Johnson:
  C-  He’s been
suspect defensively recently, and still isn’t scoring. (B-)

The Dog

The Bulldogs split their home-and-home series
with the Syracuse Crunch this week, each road team getting the win.


March 16, 2007
Hamilton 5, Syracuse 4
Hamilton Goals:
D’Agostini 4 (15-18), Lemieux (5)
42-28 Syracuse
  3-6  PK: 

March 11, 2007
Syracuse 3, Hamilton 2
Hamilton Goal:
D’Agostini (19), Urquhart (5)
26-25 Syracuse
  1-6  PK: 

3 Key Notes:

 The Sunday game vs Syracuse was held in Montreal, with an attendance of
just over 8,000, which isn’t a ton more than Copps Coliseum draws.

2)  The Eric Manlow goal watch continues, as the drought hits 47
games (after 25 goals in 80 games last year.)

3)  Anyone notice that neither Mathieu Roy nor Jan Hejda, the pair
of Oilers’ D prospects are nowhere to be seen on either of the playoff rosters?


It’s time to resurrect one of the more popular
segments from recent years, as we look at the teams that the Habs are fighting
for a playoff spot and compare who’s facing who this week.





This Week’s Schedule
6 Tampa Bay 82 9 20th vs NYI, 22nd vs NJ, 24th
vs OTT
7 Carolina 80 9 22nd vs WSH,
24th vs SJ
8 NY Rangers 79 10 19th vs PIT, 21st vs PHI, 24th
@ BOS, 25th @ NYI
9 NY Islanders 79 11 20th @ TB,
22nd vs PIT, 24th @ PHI, 25th vs NYR
10 Toronto 78 10 20th vs NJ, 23rd @ BUF, 24th
vs BUF
11 Montreal 78 9 20th vs BOS,
22nd @ BOS, 24th vs WSH
12 Boston 71 11 20th @ MTL, 22nd vs MTL, 24th
vs NYR, 25th @ PIT

Standings as of afternoon games played on
March 18th.


Some interesting news came out of Hab-land this
week, as it was revealed that Cristobal Huet’s recovery is going quicker than
expected.  Many fans rejoiced…while I wanted to kick something. 
Fans and the media alike are claiming that his return is the only thing that
will salvage Montreal’s season.  Let’s review a little recent history here:

Huet’s last 10 games before the injury: 3-7 record, 3,59 GAA, .890 SV%. 

By comparison:

Aebischer’s last 10:  3-6 record, 3.93 GAA, .889 SV%
Halak’s last 10 (season stats, only 8 games): 4-4 record, 3.44 GAA, .886 SV%.

I may be reading into things the wrong way here, but to me, this doesn’t seem
like a marked improvement, and it certainly won’t strike fear into any other
team.  And because of this, will it give the Habs any more confidence than
they have now?  Did they play with any confidence in front of him before? 
I didn’t see much of any.  It’s always nice to see your starting goalie
come back, but before fans start planning any parades, let’s face reality: 
Barring a miraculous turnaround by Huet when he comes back, the fortunes of this
team will not change dramatically enough to propel them into the playoffs based
on his play alone.