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In this week’s HW Recap: Was James Wisniewski’s
3 point effort enough to vault him to the top of the rankings in his first week
with the club?  There were lots of good moments in 2010 for Montreal but
which was the most memorable?  Plus, the Final Thought looks at why there
is a double standard between benching rookies and veterans and why it’s not
going anywhere anytime soon.


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) James Wisniewski: So far, he has
played as advertised.  He brings a strong shot, good mobility, and grit to
the table, and will make some hair pulling mistakes.  Can’t argue with a 3
point effort in Florida though.
N/A  Average:

2) Scott Gomez: His line overall was quieter this week (5 team goals in 4
games has a way of doing that) but on the rare occasions the Habs did score, he
had a hand in most of them.
1  Average:

3) Alex Auld: I’ll give him credit, he played another decent, non flashy
game against the Panthers.  Couple that with a perfect, albeit brief,
relief outing the night before and you have the makings of a solid week from the
N/A  Average:

4) P.K. Subban: Yes, he did make one costly misread by taking himself out
of the play in Washington.  Aside from that, his decision making was
terrific.  Not as flashy (though he still rushes the puck) but much more
20  Average:

5) Carey Price: When your team gives you 2 goals of support total over 3
games, you’re not winning.  He wasn’t terrific, but aside from the last
goal in Tampa, he was somewhat solid.  A little extra rest may help him out
6  Average:

6) Max Pacioretty: I don’t want to consider him responsible for getting
Gomez/Gionta going, that’s too much pressure for him.  Focusing on his game
alone, he, like Subban above, wasn’t flashy but simply effective.  Works
for me.
4  Average:

7) Tomas Plekanec: His road struggles are becoming troublesome but
fortunately he is still finding ways to be effective.  Better still is the
fact that there were signs late week that his offensive game may be finding
signs of life again.
5  Average:

8) Brian Gionta: A very quiet week overall for the captain at the worst
possible time.  However, his goal in Florida gave this team life it hadn’t
had in quite some time.
3  Average:

9) Mike Cammalleri: He still is trying to pick the tiniest corner to
shoot at and misses repeatedly.  When you’re in a slump, less aiming, more
shooting at the net is the way to go. 
2  Average:

10) Yannick Weber: We learned that he’s not ready to run a powerplay, but
aside from that, he was solid.  Picard ought to be worried about when he
might get back in, Weber’s play doesn’t warrant a change.
8  Average:

11) Roman Hamrlik: We saw some really bad moments, some really good ones,
and everything in between.  Looked a lot more comfortable with Wisniewski.
13  Average:

12) Lars Eller: There’s no denying the talent is there (he made lots of
good plays), but sooner or later, that talent has to lead to some sort of
offensive production.
9  Average:

13) Maxim Lapierre: In the Tampa game, we saw a very aggressive,
energetic Lapierre.  Considering it was soon revealed afterwards that he’d
be more than welcome to a trade, guess we know why.  Still though, his
physical presence if nothing else will be missed and full props for taking the
classy route upon his departure.
16  Average:

14) Mathieu Darche: Full marks for being willing to drive the net,
especially on the PP.  That said, I’m not sure even Pyatt could miss that
many freebie chances.
12  Average:

15) Benoit Pouliot: When he was noticeable out there, it was for positive
things.  Unfortunately, the times he actually was noticeable were few and
far between.
21  Average:

16) Hal Gill: Once paired with Subban, he looked more comfortable. 
He knows his job will be staying back in case Subban makes an error and he knows
which D should be carrying it up ice.  Simplifying in this instance is
perfect for him.
15  Average:

17) Jaroslav Spacek: If he could ever do away with the costly turnovers,
he’d be pretty effective for the Habs.  This week, he couldn’t, so he
wasn’t effective.
8  Average:

18) Jeff Halpern: This is more of the "real" Halpern, a 4th line C who is
defensively conscious and good on the draw.  Even with the lack of
production, there still is value in his contract.
10  Average:

19) Andrei Kostitsyn: Basically had the same week as Pouliot.  Since
Kostitsyn is a more expensive player and has a bigger role, he drops even
further down the rankings.
11  Average:

20) Tom Pyatt: Effective as always on the PK but is largely a liability
5-on-5 because of his offensive struggles.  Fortunately, with all the PK
time the Habs had, he didn’t see a ton of ice time at full strength.
14  Average:

21) Travis Moen: Like Pyatt, effective on the penalty kill and basically
invisible otherwise.  With Lapierre now gone, it is paramount that he picks
up the pace physically.
17  Average:

22) Josh Gorges: At some point, the organization had to say enough is
enough.  I give Gorges full credit for wanting to tough it out but this is
better for both him and the team.  I suspect he’ll be out for more than a
few games at this point.
19  Average:

23) Alexandre Picard: Last week, he put up the goals to offset his
defensive struggles.  This week, not so much, earning him a deserved ticket
to the press box. 
7  Average:

The Dog

The Bulldogs certainly stand to benefit from
the Maxim Lapierre trade as Brett Festerling will provide a big boost to a
depleted blueline.


December 26








Hamilton 1 2 0 0 0 3 1/3 31
Toronto 1 2 0 0 1 4 0/2 22

Attendance:  4,184
3 Stars:
  1) Aulie – TOR  2) Klubertanz – HAM  3) Crabb – TOR

December 28






Chicago 2 1 2 5 3/10 28
Hamilton 2 1 0 3 2/6 26

Attendance:  5,101
3 Stars:
  1) Boyd – HAM  2) Davies – CHI  3) Postma – CHI

December 30






Lake Erie 0 2 0 2 2/2 34
Hamilton 1 1 1 3 2/6 24

Attendance:  4,672
3 Stars:
  1) Desharnais – HAM  2) Olver – LE  3) Boyd –

January 1






Hamilton 0 0 0 0 0/7 30
Lake Erie 1 2 0 3 1/5 27

Attendance:  4,305
3 Stars:
  1) Grahame – LE  2) Stoa – LE  3) Carman – LE


Although the offence has done a decent job
despite being without their top players due to recall, their biggest test may
come now with starting goalie Curtis Sanford out to due back issues.









4 Brendon Nash 4 0 3 -3 3 4
5 Alex Henry 4 0 1 +1 3 4
10 J.T. Wyman 4 1 0 -1 9 2
12 Andrew Conboy 4 0 2 -1 7 6
14 Olivier Fortier 4 0 0 -3 3 0
15 Kyle Klubertanz 4 2 2 -2 7 4
16 David Urquhart 3 0 0 -1 3 2
17 Dustin Boyd 4 5 0 -1 16 0
19 Ben Maxwell 4 1 3 E 12 4
20 Ryan Russell 4 0 0 E 4 4
22 Andreas Engqvist 3 0 0 E 9 0
23 Brett Festerling 1 0 0 E 0 0
24 Ian Schultz 3 0 0 -1 2 5
25 Ryan White 4 0 0 E 8 7
28 Aaron Palushaj 2 0 0 E 2 0
32 Frederic St. Denis 4 0 0 -1 6 2
40 Gabriel Dumont 4 0 1 -1 11 9
44 Jimmy Bonneau 4 0 0 -1 1 0
51 David Desharnais 3 0 5 E 3 4
61 Hunter Bishop 1 0 0 E 2 0
85 Neil Petruic 4 0 0 E 2 4






1 Curtis Sanford 0-0-1 .840 3.64
35 Robert Mayer 1-2-0 .895 3.07


# Player G/ATT
15 Kyle Klubertanz 0/1
17 Dustin Boyd 0/1
19 Ben Maxwell 0/1
22 Andreas Engqvist 0/1
40 Gabriel Dumont 0/1
51 David Desharnais 0/1


# Player SVS/ATT
1 Curtis Sanford 5/6


Goals: Max Pacioretty (17)
(Active leader: Andrew Conboy – 8)
Assists: David Desharnais (35)
(Active leader: Ben Maxwell – 17)
Points: David Desharnais (45)
(Active leader: Ben Maxwell – 23)
+/-: David Desharnais (+14)
(Active leader: Mathieu Carle – +10)
PIMS: Jimmy Bonneau (89)
Shots: Max Pacioretty (132)
(Active leader: Ben Maxwell – 77)


January 5: Hamilton vs Grand Rapids
January 8: Hamilton vs Chicago
January 9: Hamilton vs Milwaukee

Moment of
the Year

Well, despite the not-so-nice finish to the
calendar year, it’s hard to look back at 2010 as anything short of a success. 
The ‘chemistry experiment’ that Bob Gainey assembled in the summer of 2009
seemed to work, there was a long playoff run, and an awful lot of optimism. 
So I got to thinking, what was my favourite moment of it all?

Pierre Gauthier’s most criticized trade (though Friday’s Lapierre deal sadly is
giving that crown a run for its money) after taking over was his acquisition of
Dominic Moore just prior to the Olympic break.  The cost (a 2nd rounder
this year) for a struggling 3rd line rental player seemed like an overpayment. 
Moore wound up being a terrific fit though, notching 11 points in only 21 games
with the club.

But his biggest impact wasn’t felt until Game 7 of the 1st round in Washington. 
We all know the scene by now, late 3rd, a 1-0 Montreal lead, Gill chips it in,
Maxim Lapierre draws Mike Green away, allowing Moore to beat Semyon Varlamov top
shelf blocker side.  Relive the moment here if you’d like:

I’m sure I wasn’t the only one counting down
the minutes as that 3rd period progressed, where it seemed the clock wasn’t
moving at all.  That goal allowed fans to exhale shortly, likely saving
more than a few coronary moments in the process.  Well, for all of a minute
at least before it was again a 1 goal game.  Say what you will about the
price, it was an overpayment given Moore’s production beforehand but it’s hard
to argue that now given what he did.  A 2nd round pick for a player who scores a series
winning goal?  It’s not the greatest of asset management, but hey, whatever
works.  It did here.


In the discussion of whether it was justified
for Subban’s benching earlier in the week, there was talk of why there is a
double standard; why do veterans get the benefit of the doubt but not rookies? 
Why can’t the veterans be sat down?  I’m a big proponent of letting the
veterans play through their mistakes to a degree, there is past performance, a
normal production level that a player should revert to be it during a hot or
cold streak.  There isn’t that with youngsters, they haven’t been around
long enough to set a baseline performance level.

Also, you have to consider the worst case scenario, that the benching will be
ill-received.  With a veteran, what’s next?  He sat, didn’t help, now
he’s pouting.  Benching him again does nothing, nor does a cap on ice time
since the player is struggling anyway; that last bit makes a trade difficult as
well.  With a rookie, there is fear of the minors, fear of a smaller
paycheque, not to mention the second guessing that can come, "Is this as good as
I can be, are my NHL dreams on the downswing?"  There’s more at stake for
the youngsters, so they sit, justified or not at times; the coaches still should
be able to get their message out easier to them.

Consider the case of Subban’s first benching.  An immediate fan favourite
and clearly an impact player.  But there are shortcomings to his game, not
to mention the rumblings of concerns in the dressing room.  Corrective
measures needed to be taken.  Now he returns, and still the issues persist. 
Now the 2nd benching comes into play and I’m sure there was a message that if
his play kept up, he might be getting his ice time in a certain Dog Pound. 
Subban makes just a shade over $4,700 per day with Montreal, it’d take nearly 2
weeks to earn that with Hamilton based on his minor league salary.  I don’t
know about you, but given that, I’d be inclined to follow direction a little
more to keep getting NHL money.

With veterans, benching is a last resort, a punishment.  With young’uns, it
can be a punishment but also an opportunity, a chance to make a bigger impact. 
It simply is a bigger motivational tool and as all contracts are guaranteed in
the NHL, one of the few tools that coaches have.  That’s why it’s used, not
just in Montreal, but throughout the league.  Get used to the double
standard folks, it’s not going anywhere, not in Montreal, not anywhere else.

If you have any questions regarding
this article or the

please feel free to drop me a line at
[email protected].  On
behalf of the entire staff at HabsWorld, I’d like to wish everyone a Happy New
Year…even if it is a few hours late.

Note: With the Habs off finally playing this coming Saturday, the HW
Recap will now move back into its regular slot on Sunday nights.