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The ups and downs continued for the Habs this
week as they continue their dogfight for positioning in the tight Eastern
Conference while the Bulldogs earned themselves a trio of victories as they
continue to work towards top spot in their division.  A former tough guy is
the subject of our former player segment, while the Final Thought looks at 5
lesser-discussed forwards who may very well be on Montreal’s radar heading into
the deadline.  This plus the grades, in the Recap.


8.00 to 10.00:
I) Stars/Superstars playing at or above performance, salary, and role expectations.
II) Above average players producing beyond performance, salary, and role expectations.
III) Average/Role players delivering well beyond performance, salary, and role

7.00 to 7.75:
I) Stars/Superstars playing below performance, salary, and role expectations.
II) Above average players producing at performance, salary, and role expectations.
III) Average/Role players delivering beyond performance, salary, and role expectations.

to 6.75:
I) Stars/Superstars playing far below performance, salary, and role expectations.
II) Above average players producing below performance, salary, and role expectations.
III) Average/Role players delivering at performance, salary, and role expectations.

Under 6.00:
I) Stars/Superstars playing outrageously below performance, salary, and role
II) Above average players producing far below performance, salary, and role expectations.
III) Average/Role players delivering below performance, salary, and role


Jaroslav Halak:

Hard to fault him for the loss in Vancouver, and he withstood the pressure when
the Sens were pressing for their comeback.  (Previous:
8.00   Average:

Carey Price:

Of his 2 complete games, the Washington one was solid, while the Pittsburgh was
one to forget.  Some positive steps, but still too many weak spots.  (Previous:
5.50   Average:


Mathieu Schneider:

Talk about being thrown into the fire, getting lots of ice time and being
productive with that time – something we haven’t seen much of from the D lately.  (Previous: N/A   Average:

Andrei Markov:

His offensive game was strong this week while
adjusting well to having Schneider line up alongside him.  (Previous:
6.50   Average:

Patrice Brisebois:

Had what turned out to be the GWG in one of his 2 games, while holding his own
in the defensive end.  (Previous: 7.00   Average:

Josh Gorges:

I was hoping that having Schneider would help ease the pressure off him and that
we’d see some improvement in his play.  The early results appear to be
mixed.  (Previous: 6.75   Average:

Roman Hamrlik:

The off-ice allegations notwithstanding, it wasn’t a good week for Hamrlik. 
He had a few points, but mistakes led to a few for the opponents as well.  (Previous:

Francis Bouillon:

The offensive play went away this week which further exposed some weaknesses in
his own end.  The time off should do him some good.  (Previous:
7.25   Average:

Mike Komisarek:

The woes continue, bad reads, passes, lousy penalties.  On the plus side,
there was a more physical aspect than we’ve seen recently.  (Previous:
6.00   Average:


Tomas Plekanec:
His best week of the
season without question.  If he can play similar to this way for the rest
of the year, the Habs will be in much better shape.  (Previous:
6.25   Average:

Andrei Kostitsyn:
When he is the go-to
scorer on a line, his game really improves.  I’m concerned that he was
hardly a factor in the Ottawa game when paired with Kovalev again.  (Previous:
6.50   Average:

Max Pacioretty:
Was a great complement to
Kostitsyn and Plekanec, and also played well on Saturday’s energy line. 
Versatility – you can never go wrong with it.  (Previous:
7.00   Average:

Gregory Stewart:
Despite having a greater role
and more ice time than he has in Hamilton, he’s more than held his own.  (Previous:
N/A   Average:

Alexei Kovalev:
One very strong game and one beyond awful game – this is one of the
detriments to having weekly grades as the averages sometimes smooth things over
too much.  (Previous:
6.25   Average:

Mathieu Dandenault:
Was used in a variety of roles and played well in all of them for the most
part.  (Previous: 8.25   Average:

Maxim Lapierre:
I love the hustle and
intensity, but his offensive game has completely gone down the tubes.  (Previous:
7.00   Average:

Tom Kostopoulos:
Played way too much, but to his
credit played well.  With him receiving the ‘A’ in Kovalev’s absence, it
all but ensures that there appears to be a future for him in Montreal beyond
this year.  (Previous:
6.75   Average:

Saku Koivu:
I’m the first person to
step up for Koivu, but even I can’t give him a free pass this week – he needs to
be a catalyst and he hasn’t been lately.  He hasn’t played poorly, but must
be better.  (Previous: 6.50   Average:

Chris Higgins:
Played well defensively,
but his offensive game is gone after its brief appearance a couple weeks back.  (Previous:
6.50   Average:

Kyle Chipchura:
Once again, the timing of
his benching is more than curious.  He’s not the best player on the team,
but he usually is a positive in the lineup.  (Previous:
N/A   Average:

Georges Laraque:
Dumb penalty on Brashear and
yet another useless fight.  That being said, he’s playing his best
all-round hockey of the year; he’s hustling and making some good things happen.  (Previous:
6.75   Average:

Matt D’Agostini:
Virtually a non-factor all
week long.  When you’re the front line RW (justified or not), production is
required.  (Previous:

Sergei Kostitsyn:
The demotion was a long
time coming – he’s useless as a 4th liner in Montreal, better that he gets lots
of ice time with the Bulldogs.  (Previous:
6.25   Average:

Week’s Average:
Season Average:

The Dog

Marc Denis continued to lead the way for the
Bulldogs, winning 3 of his 4 games.


February 16
2 3


Hamilton 0 2 1 3 1/7 29
Philadelphia 0 1 1 2 1/6 29

Attendance:  6,146
3 Stars:
  1) Gainey – HAM  2) Denis – HAM  3) Raduns – PHI

February 20
2 3


Hamilton 1 1 2 4 0/2 19
Toronto 3 0 0 3 1/1 39

Attendance:  3,302
3 Stars:
  1) Desharnais – HAM  2) Denis – HAM  3) Hollweg –

February 21
2 3


Wilkes-Barre 0 1 0 1 0/3 27
Hamilton 0 1 3 4 0/3 31

Attendance: 5,155
3 Stars:
  1) Russell – HAM  2) Trotter – HAM  3) Denis – HAM

February 22
2 3


Syracuse 0 2 1 3 1/3 32
Hamilton 1 0 0 0 0/6 35

Attendance: 4,838
3 Stars:
  1) MacKenzie – SYR  2) LaCosta – SYR  3) Kinasewich – HAM


David Desharnais’ excellent rookie season
continued, as he led the way with 5 points for the ‘Dogs.


# Player GP G A +/- SH PIMS
3 Ryan O’Byrne 3 1 0 +2 4 4
4 Dan Jancevski 4 0 4 +3 5 0
5 Alex Henry 4 0 0 -3 2 2
6 Chad Anderson 2 0 0 +2 5 0
7 Yannick Weber 4 0 1 +1 10 4
10 J.T. Wyman 4 1 1 +3 10 0
11 Steve Gainey 4 1 0 -1 4 4
12 Andrew Conboy 4 0 1 E 1 2
16 Greg Stewart 1 0 0 E 1 17
18 Tyler Shelast 4 1 1 +2 7 0
19 Brock Trotter 4 1 4 +1 9 2
20 Ryan Russell 4 2 0 +2 8 2
21 Ryan Kinasewich 4 1 0 +4 7 0
24 T.J. Kemp 4 0 3 +5 2 0
28 Ryan White 4 0 1 +3 4 0
36 David Desharnais 4 3 2 +5 5 0
72 Mathieu Carle 3 0 0 E 4 0
74 Sergei Kostitsyn 3 0 0 -2 9 0
85 Yanick Lehoux 4 0 1 -3 9 0
91 Ben Maxwell 4 1 0 +1 8 2


# Player Record SV% GAA
38 Marc Denis 3-1-0 .929 2.25


Goals:  Glumac (21)
  Lehoux (32)
  Lehoux (48)
  Russell (+19)
  Stewart (170)

This Week:

February 27:  Rochester vs Hamilton
February 28:
  Toronto vs Hamilton
March 1:  Hamilton vs Lake Erie


With the ongoing debate about whether Georges
Laraque plays any sort of positive role in this lineup, I thought it’d be a good
idea to look back at one of Montreal’s old enforcers.

Gordie Dwyer was a 3rd round pick of the St. Louis Blues back in 1996. 
After the Blues opted not to sign him, the Habs scooped him up, selecting him in
the 6th round two years later.  He spent time in Fredericton and Quebec
(AHL), but didn’t last long before the Habs gave up on him, sending him to Tampa
Bay for career minor leaguer Mike McBain less than 2 months into the 99-00
campaign.  With the Bolts, he played in parts of 3 seasons, while spending
time for 3 different minor league clubs, including multiple stints in the IHL. 
In 2002, he was sent to the Rangers for another career minor leaguer in Boyd
Kane (aside from a couple brief callups) where he had a brief cup of coffee
before rejoining the Habs via the waiver wire in February 2003.  He spent a
pair of seasons in the organization playing the final 13 of his 108 scoreless
NHL games between stints in the minors.  He spent the last 4 seasons
playing for a variety of minor league teams before calling it quits prior to the
start of this year.


As is always the tradition at this time of
year, I always try to speculate on some players who could be in play at the
trade deadline that could be of some interest to the Habs.  This week, the
forwards (next week will feature defencemen and goalies – unless other deals are
made by then).  Currently, the Habs at max can bring in about a $1.9
million player (full season salary) unless other players are sent the other way.

Jere Lehtinen (Dallas) Cap hit: $4,000,000, UFA at season’s end
Depending on whether Dallas decides to sell at the deadline, this now defensive
specialist may be of interest to the Habs.  He has played alongside Saku
Koivu in the past, and if the Habs want all the flexibility they can get in the
offseason, his expiring contract would be considered an asset.

Mark Recchi (Tampa Bay) Cap hit: $1,500,000 with bonuses, UFA at
season’s end
.  Like Schneider, the fact that Recchi has played for the
Habs in the past is a bonus, as is the fact that if the cards are played right,
no one off the active roster would have to go Tampa’s way for financial reasons.

Steve Sullivan (Nashville) Cap hit: $3,200,000, UFA at season’s end
He’s finally healthy and starting to produce.  The Preds likely aren’t
going anywhere this year and would likely want to give the veteran a shot at
making a playoff run.  Considering his health concerns, the asking price
may be lower than some of the other wingers on the market.

Doug Weight (NY Islanders) Cap hit: $4,300,000 with bonuses, UFA at
season’s end
.  He’s hurt for a couple weeks after the deadline, but
the fact remains that he’d be a viable upgrade as long as the acquiring team is
willing to wait a little while.  I don’t have the full bonus details, but I
would imagine some of those $2.55 M in bonuses aren’t reachable, which would
lower the cap hit.

Todd White (Atlanta) Cap hit: $2,375,000, signed through 2010-11
If the determination is made that Robert Lang shouldn’t be brought back next
season due to injury concerns, White is the type of player that may fit the bill
if the Habs want to stick with 3 offensive lines into next season.  With
the emergence of Bryan Little, he no longer is the #1 C that Atlanta envisioned
when they signed him.

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