In this week’s HW Recap: The weekly player
rankings return as I assess the Habs’ performance in their first two home games
of the season. The Bulldogs traveled to St. John’s for a pair of
back-to-back road games while one Bulldog sits among the scoring leaders.
Plus, my Final Thought looks at why some fans need to tone down their
expectations for Montreal’s prized free agent acquisition, Erik Cole.
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) Max Pacioretty: He seems to have
quashed any thoughts that he’d be playing more tentatively after the injury.
He threw his body around while being the team’s biggest offensive threat.
A promising start to the season for sure.
2) Brian Gionta: He was relatively
quiet against Calgary but it was his goal that really sparked the bench in the
third period against Colorado. The captain leading the rally is always a
good thing to see.
3) Lars Eller: It’s not often that I
put a skater with zero points (out of six team goals) this high but Eller really
impressed me considering he didn’t appear in any exhibition or rehab games.
The fact he did so out of position is even more noteworthy, though I do hope
he’s back at centre sometime soon.
4) Tomas Plekanec: Although he didn’t
produce much offensively in either home game, I give him the nod here as he is
wearing so many hats for the team right now. He more or less played every
position aside from goalie in the two games which is enough to ask of anyone.
5) David Desharnais: For the first time
in a long time, we saw Desharnais bring some production to the table and for how
well he played on Saturday, I suppose it was worth the wait. He and
Pacioretty (the old Hamilton duo) have some good chemistry going.
6) Travis Moen: Every year, he seems to
have a stretch where he actually becomes an offensive threat; it usually lasts
for a couple of weeks. It appears he’s getting that out of the way early
7) Andrei Kostitsyn: He didn’t have the
greatest of games on Saturday but he was one of the few players who played well
in the home opener. It seems as if the Jekyll and Hyde routine is continuing
again this year.
8) Raphael Diaz: In a week where it
seemed every defenceman (Diaz included) had a lot of up and down moments, the
Swiss rookie was the most consistent. Given the status of the defence at
the moment, I’ll take consistency any day.
9) Josh Gorges: His shot blocking
presence is certainly a welcome presence in the lineup while his assist on
Saturday gives him a share of the team lead for points by a defenceman.
(Long live small and largely irrelevant
sample sizes when it provides stats like this…)
10) Erik Cole: I’ll have more on him
later but aside from one truly awful shift leading to a goal against Calgary, he
wasn’t half bad. His physical presence in the top-6 is something we
haven’t seen for a long time.
11) Yannick Weber: I’m sure the
highlight of his week was actually getting to practice and play full games at
his normal position. He had his good and bad moments but pairing him with
Subban will do good things for the powerplay.
12) Carey Price: It wasn’t the greatest
of weeks for him after coming off a strong performance in Winnipeg. It’s a
little early to be pressing the panic button with him.
13) Alexei Emelin: He has improved with
each game which is nice to see. It’d be nice if he could use his
physicality to at least help clear the net better though.
14) Scott Gomez: Based on his play, I
probably should have him a couple spots higher as he wasn’t bad by any stretch.
But after his comments promising a better season plus his strong preseason, I
was hoping for a bit more by now.
15) P.K. Subban: Though it’d be easy to
drop him further because of his glaring mistakes, he still is playing an
important role logging major minutes. That has to count for something.
16) Hal Gill: Sadly, Gill hasn’t been
able to bail out Subban’s errors and he made several of his own in these two
games. Even his usual good work on the penalty kill suffered noticeably.
17) Mathieu Darche: Standing in front
of the net can only get you so far. Although he’s a depth player, he
should be counted on to bring a little more to the table each game.
18) Aaron Palushaj: He looked more
comfortable against the Avalanche but he is out of his element on the fourth
line. If the lines are reworked again, it’d be nice to see him given a
shot in an offensive role.
19) Andreas Engqvist: At the very
least, he needs to get more consistent at the faceoff dot. If he can
improve in that area, he’ll be okay as a 4th line centre for now.
As the Habs did to the Jets, Hamilton spoiled
St. John’s inaugural home game. Unfortunately, numerous defensive
breakdowns saw new goalie Nathan Lawson get peppered with shots repeatedly which
led to their loss in the back half of the mini two game series.
One of the ‘newcomers’ made an
immediate impact on the scoresheet despite losing a front line winger (Palushaj)
to a recall with the Habs.
|32||Frederic St. Denis||2||0||1||-1||4||0|
Goals: 4 players tied with (2)
Assists: Brock Trotter (5)
Points: Brock Trotter (7)
+/-: Henry/Masse (+2)
PIMS: Zack FitzGerald (17)
Shots: DeSimone/Willsie (7)
18: Grand Rapids vs Hamilton
October 21: Hamilton vs Rochester
When Erik Cole first signed with the Habs this
offseason, I was stunned with the expectations from some fans. The player
who cracked the 30 goal barrier (6 years ago) was going to do so on a team
that’s not known for scoring goals with players not as good as the ones he
played with on the Hurricanes (with all due respect to Tomas Plekanec, I think
Eric Staal is a better offensive centreman). In a city that’s known for
putting too much pressure on players, that seems to me like just piling on.
I was hoping that the season would bring along
more realistic projections but that doesn’t seem to be the case. I think
what Cole can bring (and already has brought) to the table is a stable physical
presence both along the boards and in front of the net. He should be good
for 20 or so goals but he probably isn’t going to be setting career highs
offensively. As we also saw, he’s also going to be good for the odd really
frustrating defensive lapse.
As long as everyone keeps their expectations in
check, I think most fans will be happy with what Cole can do for the Habs.
If you think he’ll contend for the team lead in goals though, I think you could
be a little disappointed in the end. It’s certainly far too early to get
up in arms about his lack of production so far, give him time and he’ll deliver.
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