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In this week’s HW Recap: The penalty killers
get some props for all the work they did in this set of the player rankings. 
In Hamilton, the Bulldogs continue to sputter but at least managed to pick up
half of the points in their three contests.  Meanwhile, my Final Thought
examines something the Habs haven’t had to deal with much of this year, what to
do when players come back from injury.


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: Don’t look now but
after a sluggish start offensively, the two way centre now leads the team in
points.  Even more impressive were his three assists in New York despite
logging over five minutes of penalty kill time. (Prev:
 Avg: 3.50)

2) Andrei Kostitsyn: He’s playing his
best hockey in quite a while and was the only Hab to score in both games. 
Though I can’t help but wonder if his pending UFA status is playing a role in
this, it’s still nice to see. (Prev: 10  Avg:

3) Erik Cole: Although he had just the
one goal (he certainly had enough chances), he still played an important role. 
For those who are interested in the physical department, he was the team leader
in that area in both contests. (Prev: 3  Avg:

4) Carey Price: I’m not going to
criticize him much for the game in New York given all the penalties but the
eventual winner was one he needed to have.  In Ottawa, he played another
strong game. (Prev: 2  Avg:

5) Josh Gorges: He played over 10
minutes of PK time against the Rangers which is a telling sign about how
important he has become while shorthanded.  He has looked a lot better
since being moved up with Subban. (Prev: 9
 Avg: 9.75)

6) Max Pacioretty: I think he is a big
believer of the "If you don’t shoot, you can’t score" theory.  He has been
very good at just getting pucks to the net; he is just two shots behind Marian
Gaborik for second in the NHL in that category. (Prev:
 Avg: 4.25)

7) Brian Gionta: I noted a couple of
weeks ago that he was largely quiet except for when he stepped it up late in a
game when the team was down.  He did that once again in New York, though it
would be nice to see him do that a little more regularly. (Prev:
13  Avg: 8.50)

8) Mike Cammalleri: I still think he’s
been too quiet out there most of the time but at the end of the night he’s still
on the scoresheet.  It’s hard to be too critical when he’s still helping
the team. (Prev: 14  Avg:

9) Lars Eller: He may be at his best
at centre but if he can’t get the faceoff side of it down, he may very well be
moved over when Scott Gomez returns.  He’s certainly generating chances at
the very least. (Prev: 5  Avg:

10) Hal Gill: This is the Gill that
the Habs re-signed in the offseason.  Log major minutes on the penalty
kill, block several shots, and hope he doesn’t mess up elsewhere.  He did
exactly what was expected of him. (Prev: 20
 Avg: 16.00)

11) Jaroslav Spacek: As much as a lot
of fans have scapegoated him, he has been a nice addition to the defence corps
after his injury.  He has really stabilized the D even though his game has
been quiet for the most part. (Prev: 11  Avg:

12) P.K. Subban: I don’t want to be
too hard on him as he’s playing a role he clearly isn’t ready for but it seems
as if he’s making a notable mistake at least once a game right now. 
Whenever Andrei Markov returns, it would not surprise me if Subban lands in the
press box to let him recharge a little. (Prev: 12
 Avg: 12.25)

13) David Desharnais: His disinterest
in backchecking consistently really annoyed me this week…and was largely
responsible for two of the five goals the Habs allowed.  His inconsistency
at the faceoff dot is also problematic although like Cammalleri, he is still
producing somewhat well. (Prev: 4  Avg:

14) Yannick Weber: After looking like
he could handle larger minutes based on his play the last couple of weeks, he
seemed a step slow for most of the two games while his shot was erratic. (Prev:
7  Avg: 11.75)

15) Travis Moen: He logged significant
minutes and played well defensively but brought nothing to the table in the
opponents’ end.  I know that’s not his role but after doing that in
previous weeks, I had some offensive expectations right now. (Prev:
16  Avg: 9.75)

16) Mathieu Darche: He gave the team
some useful penalty kill minutes in New York but didn’t bring much else to the
table.  For those concerned over his PP usage, he only played one minute
with the man advantage in the two games combined. (Prev:
19  Avg: 14.25)

17) Raphael Diaz: Perhaps I jinxed him
after proclaiming he wouldn’t be Hamilton bound any time soon.  He’s
playing a little too passively for my liking; he’s at his best when he’s playing
an aggressive offensive game. (Prev: 15  Avg:

18) Petteri Nokelainen: The New York
game is a wash for him but he struggled a bit in Ottawa, particularly at the
faceoff dot.  As a specialist in that department, that really limits his
overall effectiveness. (Prev: 17  Avg:

19) Michael Blunden: It’s hard to
judge what you can’t see.  Unfortunately, even the stat sheets show that he
wasn’t quite as ‘efficient’ in limited ice time as he was last week. (Prev:
18  Avg: 18.50)

The Dog

The Bulldogs got a couple of players back from
injury but also lost a pair more to the infirmary.  Not surprisingly, the
frequent roster changes have hurt this team from getting much offensive


November 1:

Abbotsford 3, Hamilton 2 (OT)

November 4:

Houston 4, Hamilton 2

November 5:

Hamilton 1, Lake Erie 0


A pair of snipers finally got out
of their respective scoring slumps to score their first goals of the season. 
Curiously enough, both players lead the team in points despite this.









5 Alex Henry 3 0 0 +1 3 2
6 Joe Stejskal 1 0 0 E 1 0
7 Joe Callahan 3 0 0 -1 2 0
10 Philip DeSimone 3 0 1 E 4 2
11 Alain Berger 3 0 0 E 4 0
12 Andrew Conboy 2 0 0 -2 3 2
13 Zack FitzGerald 3 0 0 -1 3 4
15 Phillipe Lefebvre 3 1 0 E 4 0
16 Olivier Fortier 3 1 1 -2 3 0
17 Mark Mitera 3 0 0 E 5 2
18 Dany Masse 3 0 0 -1 2 4
20 Louis Leblanc 3 0 0 -1 9 4
22 Andreas Engqvist 1 0 0 E 0 0
23 Joonas Nattinen 2 0 0 E 1 2
24 Brian Willsie 3 1 2 -1 15 2
28 Aaron Palushaj 3 1 4 -2 9 0
32 Frederic St. Denis 3 0 2 -2 3 0
40 Gabriel Dumont 2 0 0 E 4 5
55 Garrett Stafford 3 1 0 -3 4 0
67 Alexander Avtsin 3 0 0 E 5 4






29 Robert Mayer 0-0-1 .914 2.82
52 Nathan Lawson 1-1-0 .939 1.55


Goals: DeSimone/Fortier/Stafford (3)
Assists: Palushaj/Willsie (7)
Points: Palushaj/Willsie (8)
+/-: Alex Henry (+2)
PIMS: Zack FitzGerald (53)
Shots: Brian Willsie (40)


November 8: Chicago vs Hamilton
November 11:
Grand Rapids vs Hamilton
November 13: Hamilton vs Binghamton


A lot of the talk this week has been along the
lines of who will sit when so-and-so returns?  Most often, the so-and-so’s
are Markov and Gomez as Ryan White is still out long-term.  Before I give
my thoughts on each situation, I’d like to mention how nice it is to discuss the
prospect of actual healthy scratches (note the plural), something we as fans
haven’t had the luxury of discussing in quite some time.

With regards to Gomez, I’m not among the
growing facet that says don’t play him period.  He still can play a useful
role on this team, especially in the speed and faceoff department.  He’s
going to be moved back to C and I think the play in the next 7-10 days will
determine which of Eller/Desharnais moves over to the wing while Blunden likely
goes back to Hamilton.  (If he doesn’t, I think Darche could see some time
upstairs.)  Eller’s size would acquit him better to the wing but he is
noticeably better at centre which means that if I had to guess right now,
Desharnais would move to the wing to accommodate Gomez’s return.  I think
that could work to his advantage too as he wouldn’t have the puck quite as much;
he’d be able to concentrate more on the little things away from the puck, an
element that has been lacking at times in recent games.

As for the defence, that gets a little
trickier.  It’s a cop-out answer but I think a rotation will be the
short-term solution.  Diaz and Weber both can be sat every so often while
veterans like Gill and Spacek could both use the odd game off to keep them
fresh.  That type of rotation would also allow Alexei Emelin to get some
playing time, something that he’ll need sooner or later (I think he’ll draw back
in at some point this week.)  The Habs have a decent amount of cap space at
the moment so I don’t think they’ll hesitate to carry eight blueliners for a

If you have any questions/comments, please feel free to drop me a line at [email protected]