HabsWorld.net -- 

In this week’s HW Recap: A new leader in the
Habs’ player rankings, plus the regular Bulldogs StatPack as Hamilton finally
snapped their losing streak.  Even strength goal production is the focus as
we go Inside the Numbers, while Pacioretty’s recall put the Habs into new cap
territory.  Lastly, the Final Thought discusses whether Alexei Kovalev
would be a good target for the Habs moving forward.


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) Mike Cammalleri: He’s still missing
on an awful lot of chances but in a week where only 7 goals were scored, having
a hand in 3 of those means he’s doing his job out there.
11  Average:

2) Roman Hamrlik: The offensive play wasn’t quite as strong but it
wouldn’t have been fair to expect it either.  What he did continue was his
strong defensive work though.
1  Average:

3) Carey Price: He was his usual strong self against the Sens and
while he allowed 3 goals in Detroit, he played pretty well too.  If that
was an off night for him, I’m pretty encouraged about the rest of the season.
2  Average:

4) Jeff Halpern: He was thrust into an offensive role after Gomez
went down and to his credit, he was able to produce reasonably well picking up a
pair of points.
16  Average:

5) Brian Gionta: On the scoresheet, it was a pretty quiet week for him
but I felt he was one of the few forwards who at least generated some offensive
pressure regularly.
9  Average:

6) Tomas Plekanec: Another player who had a quiet week offensively but
Plekanec did all of the little things well, including his usual strong work
shorthanded.  Won 20 faceoffs against Ottawa too, which is rare for him.
5  Average:

7) Hal Gill: Seldom do I give a player a top-10 rank solely based on
special teams play but I’m making an exception here.  His work on the PK
was terrific.
13  Average:

8) Benoit Pouliot: He showed flashes that he can be a good scorer in the
NHL.  Unfortunately, there were other times where he was demonstrating
virtually the exact opposite.
6  Average:

9) Lars Eller: I thought he wasn’t as strong as he was in recent weeks
but that said, this is still a big improvement over the early part of the
season.  Still lots of positives here.
4  Average:

10) Jaroslav Spacek: It’s tempting to move him lower given that ugly
mistake in Detroit but that would mean I’d be overlooking what was otherwise a
solid week.  Hopefully he’s not out too long.
7  Average:

11) Josh Gorges: I thought he could have handled the play that led to
Detroit’s 1st goal better but other than that, a pretty good set of games for
the blueliner.
14  Average:

12) Maxim Lapierre: I’ve been critical of him a lot this year but I have
to give credit where credit’s due.  This week was a big step in the right
direction towards making him relevant in the lineup again.
2011  Average:

13) Alex Auld: Yes, both goals had a distinct foul smell to them. 
That said, any time you play your backup and he only allows 2 goals, he’s done
his job. 
N/A  Average:

14) Yannick Weber: He was singled out by coach Martin for his play
Saturday.  Though I wasn’t that impressed with him, he did have some good
moments and was the least weak (it’s not a normal term but I think it applies
here) of the 3 youngsters on the blueline.
15  Average:

15) Dustin Boyd: For a player who sat as long as he did, I thought he had
a very strong comeback effort.  Frankly, unless he got hurt, I’m simply
baffled as to why he was scratched Saturday, his play didn’t warrant it.
N/A  Average:

16) Andrei Kostitsyn: Last week, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. 
This week, not so much.  He was invisible for long stretches and is a far
cry from the player he was even a month ago.
12  Average:

17) Tom Pyatt: Same old same old for him, strong in his own end, and
can’t get anything going in the opponents’ end.  Sooner or later, some of
these chances need to lead to something.
10  Average:

18) Travis Moen: At least he scored this week which is something he needs
to do a lot more of if he wants to legitimately hold down a top-6 spot moving
19  Average:

19) Mathieu Darche: Before this past week, we were seeing the good Darche. 
We saw the career AHL version this go-round though. 
3  Average:

20) Scott Gomez: Had he played every game, I’m sure he’d be higher rated. 
Instead, I’m forced to rate him on a lacklustre single period of action. 
8  Average:

21) P.K. Subban: I honestly thought he’d bounce back from being benched a
lot better than he did.  Heck, could he have done much worse?  With
Spacek now out, he needs to focus on the defensive zone first, even if it takes
away from his offensive production a bit.
18  Average:

22) Alexandre Picard: For the first time this season, he demonstrated why
he’s in his 5th NHL organization already. 
17  Average:

The Dog

The Bulldogs finally got back to the winning
ways after a trio of losses by being victorious in their final two games of the


December 8






Hamilton 1 2 0 3 1/4 42
Rochester 1 3 0 4 0/4 32

Attendance:  2,232
3 Stars:
  1) Marshall – ROC  2) Caruso – ROC  3) Plante – ROC

December 10







Hamilton 1 1 0 1 3 1/3 40
Rochester 0 2 0 0 2 1/3 31

Attendance:  4,659
3 Stars:
  1) Palushaj – HAM  2) Plante – ROC 3) Mayer – HAM

December 12






Toronto 1 0 0 1 1/3 35
Hamilton 1 3 1 5 3/6 39

Attendance:  5,817
3 Stars:
  1) Fortier – HAM  2) Carle – HAM  3) Pacioretty –


The Bulldogs finally are getting at least some
offense from players not named Pacioretty or Desharnais.  In fact, they got
a hat trick from quite the unlikely source.









4 Brendon Nash 3 0 2 +2 4 4
5 Alex Henry 3 0 2 +2 2 4
10 J.T. Wyman 3 0 1 E 4 0
12 Andrew Conboy 3 2 0 +3 10 4
14 Olivier Fortier 3 3 1 +2 13 2
15 Kyle Klubertanz 3 0 0 E 6 0
16 David Urquhart 3 0 1 -1 2 0
20 Ryan Russell 3 0 0 E 5 0
22 Andreas Engqvist 3 0 1 -1 8 0
23 Max Pacioretty 3 3 1 -1 18 0
24 Ian Schultz 1 0 0 -1 4 0
26 Alexander Avtsin 3 0 0 -2 5 2
28 Aaron Palushaj 3 2 2 +1 11 0
32 Frederic St. Denis 3 0 0 -3 5 0
40 Gabriel Dumont 3 0 0 -1 5 2
44 Jimmy Bonneau 3 0 0 -1 2 9
51 David Desharnais 3 0 4 +1 7 2
61 Hunter Bishop 2 0 0 E 3 0
72 Mathieu Carle 3 1 3 +4 7 0






1 Curtis Sanford 1-1-0 .925 2.52
35 Robert Mayer 1-0-0 .935 1.92


Goals: Max Pacioretty (17)
(League leader)
Assists: David Desharnais (25)
Points: Pacioretty/Desharnais (32)
+/-: David Desharnais (+11)
PIMS: Jimmy Bonneau (69)
Shots: Max Pacioretty (132)


December 14: Houston vs Hamilton
December 17: Hamilton vs Oklahoma City
December 18: Hamilton vs Texas
December 19: Hamilton vs San Antonio

the Numbers

Despite the fact the Habs are one of the better
5-on-5 teams in the league, I’ve always felt there was a hole that needed to be
filled.  I’m sure most of you agree that Travis Moen and the 2nd line are
not a fit for each other.  So I wanted to see if there were any forwards in
the bottom 6 that might be getting underutilized in terms of their even strength

Note scoring in this instance means goals as that’s what I’m most concerned
with.  Players will get their assists, especially with how liberally the
official scorers award second assists, so it’s immaterial to me here.  And
with Plekanec/Gomez both being strong passers, more passing may not be required.  So here are the numbers, how much
time each Hab forward has played (rounded to the nearest minute), how many goals
they’ve scored at even strength, and how long they play between even strength

Player  ES TOI  ES GF ES/G (min)
Tomas Plekanec  414 8 51.75
Benoit Pouliot  315 6 52.50
Brian Gionta  424 7 60.57
Jeff Halpern  324 5 64.80
Andrei Kostitsyn  406 6 67.67
Mike Cammalleri  437 6 72.83
Mathieu Darche  225 3 75.00
Dustin Boyd  87 1 87.00
Maxim Lapierre  353 4 88.25
Lars Eller  294 2 147.00
Travis Moen  336 2 168.00
Scott Gomez  406 2 203.00
Tom Pyatt  257 1 257.00

There is one name that jumps out at me, that
being Pouliot.  He started the season in the top-6 before being
unceremoniously dumped to the 4th line (sometimes 3rd depending on the matchup). 
Despite that, he has clearly produced (at least goal wise) at the rate of a
top-6 forward.  If Pacioretty doesn’t pan out in his recall (more on that
momentarily), I think it will be time to give Pouliot a longer look on the 2nd


As most of you already know by now, Max
Pacioretty was called up by the Habs on Sunday following the Bulldogs’ victory
over Toronto, a game you may have seen on CBC.  This move made a notable
impact on Montreal’s cap, as it took them into the ‘bonus cushion’ for the first
time this season.  That said, there remain no credits for LTIR, despite the
fact that Andrei Markov is eligible (and was placed on it earlier this week). 
Here’s a quick overview of why the Habs are where they are cap wise:

– Despite the recall, the Habs’ daily payroll (sum of the daily cost of each
player on the roster excluding bonuses) does not exceed their daily limit. 
As a result, this is why they’re not into LTIR yet.

– If, however, you were to factor the bonuses of Eller and Weber into the daily
calculation and projections, they would exceed the cap by about $165,000. 
This is why they’re now unofficially over the cap and into the ‘bonus cushion’. 
That said, the odds of both Eller/Weber hitting all of their bonuses seem slim
so this may be moot. 


With the Senators coming to town, the talk
inevitably shifted to discussion of whether bringing back Alexei Kovalev would
be a good move for the Habs.  Sure it would…if Kovalev could actually
bring something positive to the table.  Unfortunately (for the Sens
especially), he can’t, at least he hasn’t done so yet this season. 

When I first heard the idea, I thought perhaps he could be a fit for that 2nd
line vacancy discussed earlier.  So I plugged his even strength results in to the chart you
saw above.  His results (1 ES goal per 112.25 minutes) slot just below
Maxim Lapierre.  That’s right, below Lapierre.  And I don’t
think there’s anyone out there that classifies Lapierre as a scorer.  I
still say Pouliot deserves a crack at that spot as well, long before I’d give
Kovalev a look.

Numbers aside, here are some other reasons why it’s not the right move for the
Habs to make:

  • The Habs are a team built on speed. 
    The words ‘Kovalev’ and ‘speed’ do not belong together in the same sentence
    without a pair of words being placed before speed: ‘lack of.’
  • Locker room dynamics.  Without
    rehashing the old Kovalev/Koivu debate of old, I think we can all agree that
    Kovalev had a distinct voice in the room when he was with the team. 
    There are new leaders, new voices in the room now.  Another strong voice
    in the room may not be the way to go, not to mention that I’m sure Kovalev
    may feel awkward ceding the strong voice he once had.
  • Effort – I’ve seen parts (or entire) of
    quite a few Ottawa games this year and to put it bluntly, he’s dogging it out
    there.  Even if he would be happier returning to Montreal, is that the
    type of player you want to bring in, one who clearly hasn’t given it all? 
    Especially one who now is blaming his coach for his slump?  I could
    easily see Martin benching him after a few of these half-effort games, which
    will only rehash the current issue he’s facing…and with the Montreal media,
    much more would be made of it.  
  • Cap – You had to know I was going to bring
    this up.  Kovalev makes $5 million, meaning that he would eat up
    virtually all of Markov’s potential LTIR savings ($5.75 mil pro-rated). 
    I’m not an advocate of burning these potential savings on a gamble, be it
    Kovalev or anyone else.  If this money is going to be spent, it better be
    on a more surefire bet, and if it is to be spent on a gamble or two, they
    better be a lot cheaper than $5 million.

Those of you who have read these columns over the
years know I wasn’t exactly president of the Kovalev fan club.  That isn’t
to say that I don’t think he was a good player, he had his moments.  The
tense of that past sentence tells the tale though, he had good moments,
he isn’t having them now.  I think he could get his game turned around
somewhere else, but that place isn’t Montreal.  Though he’s a player who
thrives in the limelight, he’d be best suited going to somewhere where he
wouldn’t be in the spotlight.  If he got it together, he’d be the story
again but if he keeps up his recent lack of production, it wouldn’t cause quite
as much grief for all parties involved.  Next season is another story,
perhaps he’s a fit then in a lesser role at a cheaper cost.  Until then,
let nostalgia stay where it is with Kovalev, in the past.

If you have any questions regarding
this article or the

please feel free to drop me a line at
[email protected].  If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for our
new Facebook
page and follow
HW on Twitter
for updates on our latest articles, news, and more.