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The Habs’ week didn’t start off on the right
note as they lost in their home opener but the club rebounded well for back to
back victories over the weekend.  Like Montreal, the Bulldogs lost their
home opener but also managed to hit the win column.  There are some
peculiar stats that have popped up which will be the focus of this week’s
Plus/Minus, while this week’s Final Thought addresses the decision to allow the
fans to vote on the 3 Stars.


Players are rated from 1 to however many
players play on a weekly (non-cumulative) basis.  Rankings will be tracked
weekly and averages provided. 

1) Tomas Plekanec: Now this is the
player that earned himself the longest term deal in franchise history and the
one that dominated the preseason.  With the other scoring line struggling,
it’s great to see him stepping up. (Previous: 12 

2) Andrei Kostitsyn: Not surprisingly, with Plekanec excelling, he
was the primary beneficiary.  I’m most impressed by his willingness to
shoot, a quality I wish more forwards could have. (Previous:
16  Average: 9.0)

3) Carey Price: He arguably stole a point in the home opener, was
good in Buffalo but did struggle at times against the Sens.  A little
inconsistent but the team earned 5 of 6 points and he was a big part of that.
1  Average:

4) Josh Gorges: He has demonstrated once again that he’s willing to
throw his body in front of the puck and even potted a rare goal.  Even
rarer: He leads all Habs’ D in points. (Previous: 9 

5) Mike Cammalleri: He didn’t get any goals this week but it
certainly wasn’t for a lack of effort.  As the case is with many snipers,
keep shooting and eventually they’ll start going in. (Previous:
2  Average: 3.5)

6) Brian Gionta: Though his line struggled for most of the week, he
had some instances where he was still able to make a positive impact, including
scoring an early goal against the Senators. (Previous:
11  Average: 8.5)

7) Jeff Halpern: He continues to be proficient on the draw and is
playing with more of an offensive edge than he has in recent years.  He’s
finally being used in late game situations as well. (Previous:
6  Average: 6.5)

8) Maxim Lapierre: He’s often playing right on the edge and sadly he
went over it against Tampa this week.  That said, he continues to play with
energy while chipping in offensively. (Previous: 3 

9) Hal Gill: He still makes his presence felt on the penalty kill
blocking shots (10 already this year).  What has impressed me the most is
his increased aggression in the offensive end though. (Previous:
13  Average: 11.0)

10) Travis Moen: Though I wasn’t overly in favour of seeing him move
up with Gomez/Gionta, he didn’t look out of place.  He’s clearly not a
long-term solution but he acquitted himself well. (Previous:
18  Average: 14.0)

11) P.K. Subban: There were some good moments and then there were
some clearly awful ones.  To his credit, he hustled back when he realized
his mistake which is a good sign. (Previous: 5 

12) Roman Hamrlik: For being thrown into the fire (3 games in 4
nights), he held up quite nicely.  Once Markov returns, he’ll able to
settle into a support role which will suit him well. (Previous:
N/A  Average: 12.0)

13) Scott Gomez: He has barely been noticeable out there so far – on
some levels, this isn’t terrible as it means he isn’t making mistakes but he
needs to be better offensively.  Although he’s a slow starter, he better
get going soon. (Previous: 10 

14) Lars Eller: You could tell when he was out there a lot…the
problem is, it wasn’t always for the right reasons.  Such is life for a
rookie though, he’ll keep getting better. (Previous:
8  Average: 11.0)

15) Jaroslav Spacek: There were some bad moments but on the whole, he
wasn’t as egregious defensively as most would lead you to believe based on the
comments out there. (Previous: 17 

16) Benoit Pouliot: Though I felt his being bumped to the 4th line
was unwarranted, he didn’t do much while there to justify being moved back up
either. (Previous: 7  Average:

17) Alexandre Picard: To be honest, I didn’t think he was any good at
all this week.  But a goal is a goal and so he gets bumped up a couple
spots as a "reward." (Previous: 19 

18) Ryan O’Byrne: I don’t think him being benched was based on his
performance but moreso to allow them some time to evaluate Picard.  He
should be the #7 when Markov returns. (Previous: 15 

19) Dustin Boyd: After being such a factor last week, he was
virtually invisible this week.  I’m sure it’d help if he had the same
linemates for more than 5 or 6 shifts though. (Previous:
4  Average: 11.5)

20) Mathieu Darche: He had some good shifts after being moved up to
the Gomez line on Saturday, you can tell he’s a lot more comfortable in that
role than in a checking one. (Previous: 20 

21) Tom Pyatt: I was surprised with him being sat down – not because
of his play (it warranted it) but that Martin benched a player he relied on so
much last season.  Ever since the Pyatt-Boyd-Lapierre line was broken up,
he has been a non-factor. (Previous: 14 

 The Dog

After what felt like an eternity since the end
of the preseason, the Bulldogs finally got their season underway with a pair of
games against division rivals in Rochester and Toronto, winning the former but
losing the latter.


October 15






Hamilton 1 2 2 5 2/8 31
Rochester 2 0 0 2 2/5 21

Attendance:  3,122
3 Stars:
  1) Desharnais – HAM  2) Wilson – ROC  3) Weber – HAM

October 17






Toronto 0 2 3 5 0/2 33

1 2 0 3 1/2 36

Attendance:  6,142
3 Stars:
  1) Maxwell – HAM  2) Finger – TOR  3) Boyce – TOR


The injury bug struck early and often as Curtis
Sanford was injured in practice, Alexander Avtsin in the first game, while Aaron
Palushaj also was injured in practice and has yet to play this season.









4 Brendon Nash 2 0 1 -3 2 4
5 Alex Henry 2 0 0 +1 1 19
7 Yannick Weber 2 1 4 +1 7 0
10 J.T. Wyman 2 1 0 -1 7 0
12 Andrew Conboy 2 1 0 -1 2 2
14 Olivier Fortier 2 0 0 E 1 0
15 Kyle Klubertanz 2 1 0 +1 6 0
19 Ben Maxwell 2 3 1 +1 11 0
20 Ryan Russell 2 0 1 E 4 0
22 Andreas Engqvist 2 0 0 -1 3 2
23 Max Pacioretty 2 0 2 +1 5 2
24 Ian Schultz 1 0 0 E 1 0
25 Ryan White 2 0 2 +1 4 0
26 Alexander Avtsin 1 0 0 E 1 0
32 Frederic St. Denis 2 0 1 +1 2 0
40 Gabriel Dumont 2 0 1 -1 2 0
44 Jimmy Bonneau 2 0 0 E 1 6
51 David Desharnais 2 1 2 +1 5 2
72 Mathieu Carle 2 0 0 -2 2 0






35 Robert Mayer 1-1-0 .887 3.03


Goals: Ben Maxwell (3)
Assists: Yannick Weber (4)
Points: Yannick Weber (5)
+/-: 8 tied at (+1)
PIMS: Alex Henry (19)
Shots: Ben Maxwell (11)


October 19:
Rochester vs Hamilton
October 21: Hamilton vs Manitoba
October 22: Hamilton vs Manitoba
October 24: Oklahoma City vs Hamilton (Televised on CBC)



– Tomas Plekanec, statistically
the worst Canadiens’ C on the draw heading into Saturday’s game, goes 21/30 to
bump him back over 50% for the year.

– Though he isn’t scoring, Benoit Pouliot is getting the job done on the
physical side of things.  His 18 hits leads all Habs and is 7 more than the
next highest (Ryan O’Byrne).

– The Habs as a team are averaging 15 blocked shots per game through their first
5 contests.  If you want to play the projection game, this works out to a
pace of 1,230 on the season.


– Though he’s played well overall,
Carey Price has allowed a 3rd period goal in 4 of the first 5 games this season. 

– Brian Gionta and Scott Gomez (1-1-2 each) – several different wingers, similar
results.  Perhaps it’s time to try splitting them up?

– In the battle for 7th d-man (and potentially just to stay in the NHL), neither
Ryan O’Byrne nor Alexandre Picard have done much of anything to stand out in
basically an extended training camp battle.


The old saying goes, "Shame on you
if you fool me once, shame on me if you fool me twice."  Anyone know who
the shame should fall on if you don’t have enough fingers and toes to count how
many times you’ve been fooled?  Such is the situation the Canadiens
organization finds themselves in after an inane, completely unfathomable
decision to allow the fans to select the official 3 Stars for each home game. 
These are the same fans who were mocked across the league for ballot stuffing
for the last All-Star Game, the same fans who boo the US anthem, and the same
fans who thought it was justifiable to boo Carey Price, multiple times, in a
preseason game.  Granted, I’m sure this doesn’t apply to the majority of
you reading this article, but such is the current reputation of Hab fans as a
whole around the league (no matter how knowledgeable you, reading this article,
may be), we’re all lumped together for better or for worse.

This decision has essentially opened the floodgates for such a reputation to
continue.  Like it or not, some fans will simply vote for their favourite
players, creating the potential to turn the 3 Stars into a year long popularity
contest (as if the 6 weeks of ballot stuffing for the 2009 ASG wasn’t bad enough
already).  What’s even worse as this is now ammunition for certain members
of the media to push an agenda when interviewing the voted on stars, discussing
their relative popularity or lack thereof.  Such a discussion already
occurred with Andrei Kostitsyn on Saturday night in what, game 3 of the new
system?  How long before it comes up again?

Look, I get that the team is trying to be proactive; in fact, I sincerely
applaud them for that.  A team with such a rabid fanbase as Montreal’s
could simply rest on their laurels and they’re not which is great.  Some
ideas though should say just that, ideas, and this is one of them.  The
proverbial can of worms could open at any time with this (being ballot stuffing
and/or the selections becoming a point of discussion/contention in the media). 
Given the annual controversies that seem to hit each year, it’s not a question
of if said can will be opened, but when.  Kudos to the voting fans who
basically have gotten it right so far.  I honestly hope this continues and
I can eat my words down the road, but history being what it is, I’m not sure I
should be holding my breath on this one.

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