HabsWorld.net -- 

It was a week of ups and downs for the Habs,
with a victory over division rival Boston sandwiched between a pair of blowout
losses.  Meanwhile, the Bulldogs, less several of their top players,
managed to split a pair of well played games.  The Burning Issue looks at
why the Habs are limited in trade talks, while the Final Thought talks about
what reality currently is with the Habs, plus the weekly grades, in the Recap.


The ratings:
8.5 – 10:  Player has exceeded
expectations for the week, very strong contributions.
6.5 – 8:  Player has met expectations
for the week, is not hurting the lineup.
5 – 6:  Player has performed below
expectations for the week, play has negatively affected the team.
Under 4.5:  Player has had a week to
forget, questions should soon be arising about his future with the organization.


#31 – Carey Price:  6.5  Some
lapses are beginning to appear in his game, it may be time to let Huet run with
the ball for a bit when he returns. (Season Average:

#41 – Jaroslav Halak:  6.0  He
certainly didn’t instill confidence in the team when he came into the game – I
don’t think other GM’s were excited either.  (Season Average:
N/A, first rating)


#51 – Francis Bouillon:  7.0  I
was impressed this week with Bouillon, seemed very involved in the play and
showed more poise than we’ve seen this year from him. 
(Season Average: 6.72)

#3 – Ryan O’Byrne:  7.0  Kept
things simple for the most part, although some breakdowns were costly – that is
to be expected from a rookie defender though in his defence. 
(Season Average: N/A, first rating)

#8 – Mike Komisarek:  7.0 
His intensity didn’t waver during the week, and that can’t be said for everyone.  (Season Average:

#26 – Josh Gorges:  7.0 
I really feel bad for him, no matter if he plays well or not, he can’t stay in
the lineup for more than 2 games. 
(Season Average: 6.81)

#44 – Roman Hamrlik:  6.5 

A very quiet week from him, not a good thing when he’s the team’s 2nd highest
paid player. 
(Season Average: 7.45)

#71 – Patrice Brisebois:  6.5  His
powerplay awareness is nice to see, after that though, it starts to go downhill
a little bit.  (Season Average: 6.95)

#79 – Andrei Markov:  6.5 
He’s playing while hurt, and it’s showing.  He needs some time off and
soon, before it gets worse. (Season Average:

#32 – Mark Streit:  6.0 
How can a defenceman cause so many giveaways and stay in the lineup, even if he
is playing out of position?  The roster max rule is saving him right now. 
(Season Average: 6.9)


#21 – Chris Higgins:  7.5  Had a
hand in two-thirds of the team’s goals this week, that has to count for
something.  (Season Average: 7.85)

#27 – Alexei Kovalev:  7.0  It’s
almost a broken record now, the biggest threat the team had all week, and even
his execution was iffy this week. 
(Season Average: 7.75)

#14 – Tomas Plekanec:  7.0  He
seems to be at his best when he’s involved in the defensive end; if only he got
some more PK time – he can’t do much worse than the current crew. 
(Season Average: 7.55)

#25 – Mathieu Dandenault:  7.0  
He surprised me this week, he actually looked more comfortable on a scoring line
over his two-way line. 
(Season Average: 7.2)

#22 – Steve Begin:  7.0 
Responded well to the 1-game sit down, here’s hoping the injury won’t keep him
out long-term, this team needs his defensive presence. 
(Season Average: 7.25)

#84 – Guillaume Latendresse:  6.0 
Went back to the old "hit a player 3 seconds after he moves the puck" form that
sadly we’ve seen most of the season.  (Season Average:

#11 – Saku Koivu:  6.5  In terms of
making plays, he was much better this week, but the execution is still
non-existent lately. (Season Average: 7.5)

#28 – Kyle Chipchura:  6.5  He didn’t
hurt the team this week, but was quieter than what we’ve seen from his lately,
despite scoring for the first time in ages. (Season

#46 – Andrei Kostitsyn:  6.5 
There are flashes of strong play, and those of extreme laziness, usually some of
both in each game, the team needs more of the former, but is seeing the latter
lately.  (Season Average:

#6 – Tom Kostopoulos:  6.5 
At least he brings the same type of game each night, his grit has been steady if
nothing else. 
(Season Average: 6.9)

#20 – Bryan Smolinski:  6.5 
He was playing some half-decent hockey before he went down with his injury.  (Season Average:

#73 – Michael Ryder:  6.0 
Came back from being benched with an adequate performance, but again, no
execution.  (Season

#40 – Maxim Lapierre:  6.0 
He was brought up to bring energy, drive, and grit…and he brought absolutely
none of those, wrong message to send the team, Maxim.  (Season Average:
N/A, first rating)

 The Dog

The Bulldogs managed to split a pair of tough games this week, but now find
themselves the lowest scoring team in their conference.


Games 20-21 of the season.

December 7
2 3


Binghamton 0 0 1 1 0/1 27
Hamilton 1 1 3 5 1/5 34

Attendance:  3,501
3 Stars:
  1) Locke – HAM  2) D’Agostini – HAM  3) Lahti – HAM

December 8
2 3


Milwaukee 2 0 0 2 2/8 34
Hamilton 0 1 0 1 1/8 24

Attendance:  3,929
3 Stars:
  1) Niskala – MIL  2) Degon – HAM  3) Pihlstrom –


Finally Don Lever has named a captain for the team, Ajay Baines, who made his
season debut this week.


# Player GP G A +/- SH PIMS
4 Marvin Degon 2 1 0 -1 4 5
7 Eric Manlow 2 0 2 +1 3 0
12 Jean-Phillipe Cote 2 0 0 +1 1 7
16 Ryan Russell 2 0 0 -1 1 0
19 Duncan Milroy 2 1 1 +2 8 0
21 Jonathan Ferland 2 0 0 E 4 5
22 Matt D’Agostini 2 1 0 +2 8 0
23 Sergei Kostitsyn 2 1 2 +1 1 0
24 Francis Lemieux 1 0 0 E 5 4
25 Pavel Valentenko 2 0 0 -1 0 0
27 Janne Lahti 2 1 1 +2 2 2
31 Mikhail Grabovski 1 0 1 +1 4 0
32 Ajay Baines 2 0 0 E 4 0
55 Andrew Archer 2 0 1 +1 1 2
72 Mathieu Carle 2 0 1 +3 0 2
74 Joel Bouchard 2 0 0 +3 2 2
76 Greg Stewart 2 0 0 -1 4 5
84 Corey Locke 2 1 2 +2 6 4


35 Yann Danis 119 61 58 3

Season Leaders: 

Goals:  Ferland (8)
  Kostitsyn (16)
  Kostitsyn (22)
  Bouchard (+7)
  Lapierre (63) (Stewart leads with 46 amongst players
currently on the roster)


Trade, trade, trade, that’s all I hear, and that’s all I read when it comes to
discussion about the Habs.  There’s only one problem though, of the players
that people want to deal, who wants them?  Right now, a 3-goal Ryder, a
struggling and injured Smolinski with a no-trade clause (that he can waive), a
young goalie fighting to be the starter on the 2nd worst AHL team in the entire
league (Halak), and struggling/unproven defencemen (Bouillon and Gorges) are
relatively worthless to the rest of the league.  So, if there’s a deal to
be had, it’s not likely going to be one the fans like; it’s going to have to
involve a player that’s playing well (to try and fill another hole) or a
youngster with good potential (to improve the current team,) rather than
the group listed above.


Before anyone gets the idea that I’m about to cut into the team and call it
reality, that’s not what I’m intending to do.  Let’s look at this past
week, everyone is down about the team getting blown out in 2 of the 3 games. 
But when you look at who they lost to, should you really be surprised?  2
of the top-3 scoring teams in the league, with a pair of rookie goalies on the
roster more often than not equals a loss, especially when the team’s forever
struggling to score.  As for the special teams, the PK toward the end of
the season struggled, and the team didn’t exactly revamp their players or
their strategy, so it’s no real surprise to see it have issues now.  In
terms of the PP, it’s streaky, and has only a couple of plays it tries to
execute, just like last season. 

I could try and break things down further, but it’s almost the same thing
for each facet of the game.  In the end, this is largely the same team that
almost made the playoffs last season, and now find themselves on a point
projection to around that same area.  The Habs have lost their way to about
where they should be when you look at the other teams in the conference. 
All is not lost when it comes to the Habs; they’re allowed to lose some games,
particularly to stronger teams, it’s not time to act hastily yet.