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In this week’s HW Recap: The weekly player
rankings give props to some clutch production while in Hamilton, the Bulldogs
got a late win which takes a bit of the sting off what otherwise was an ugly
week.  Plus, my Final Thought takes a closer look at whether or not one
prospect’s development has been negatively affected already this season.


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: Not only is he
leading the team in scoring, but he’s now taken the next step by scoring some
clutch goals.  That’s a huge step not only for him but for the Habs as
well. (Prev: 6  Avg: 3.60)

2) Josh Gorges: Same old, same old for
Gorges – blocked shots, stayed on the positive side of the plus/minus
ledger…and scored the game winner in Phoenix. (Prev:
 Avg: 8.20)

3) Peter Budaj: Admittedly, this is
high for just one game.  However, coming in after sitting that long on the
road against a team that the Habs have struggled big time against merits some
special consideration. (Prev: N/A  Avg:

4) Carey Price: This is the Price from
last year.  In wins, he makes the key saves at the important times while in
losses, he does well enough to give them a chance. (Prev:
4  Avg: 5.80)

5) Brian Gionta: There was a little
more ‘buzz’ to his step it seemed.  He was around the net much more often,
had some good chances, plus got an important goal in Phoenix.  He isn’t
scoring much but his goals have all been at critical times. (Prev:
7  Avg: 7.80)

6) P.K. Subban: I’m still not
particularly thrilled with his continued poor decision making when it comes to
chirping and getting into unnecessary scrums but his defensive play was better
while he hit the scoresheet a couple of times as well. (Prev:
12  Avg: 11.00)

7) Tomas Plekanec: The game against
Edmonton was one to forget but the others were his usual strong two-way efforts. 
He is logging a ton of minutes now which shouldn’t go unnoticed. (Prev:
1  Avg: 4.20)

8) David Desharnais: Defensively he’s
still suspect at times but he had a strong game in Nashville while his faceoff
percentage was strong in each contest. (Prev: 13
 Avg: 8.80)

9) Lars Eller: It’s getting to be a
broken record with him – strong play, not much in the way of points.  Like
Desharnais, his faceoff percentage was better than his average in each game,
it’s nice to see some positive strides there. (Prev:
 Avg: 5.40)

10) Erik Cole: I felt he had a quieter
week than the last couple.  He still had some good drives to the net and
some decent hits, just not as many as we’ve been seeing. (Prev:
3  Avg: 7.80)

11) Travis Moen: Anyone else notice
most of his goals have been of the high quality variety?  No one likes
seeing him in the top-6 but he has done well there this year. (Prev:
15  Avg: 10.00)

12) Yannick Weber: To be honest, I
felt he struggled a lot in Nashville.  However, after spending time both on
the wing and defence in the previous two games, I have to cut him a little
slack. (Prev: 14  Avg:

13) Mike Cammalleri: As I noted in the
Nashville 3-Stars piece, he’s doing the right things to get out of his slump. 
When the puck’s not going in, that’s about all you can ask for, that he keeps on
firing. (Prev: 8  Avg:

14) Mathieu Darche: He logged quite a
few minutes early in the week.  The good news is he didn’t mess up, the bad
news is he didn’t do anything particularly productive either. (Prev:
16  Avg: 14.20)

15) Aaron Palushaj: He finally got to
play in more of an offensive role and looked better than he had in any of his
previous games this season. (Prev: N/A  Avg:

16) Hal Gill: He struggled at times
with the puck but he wasn’t too bad in terms of positioning.  His work on
the penalty kill was strong as well. (Prev: 10
 Avg: 16.00)

17) Jaroslav Spacek: There were times
where he was great in his own and while there were others where he was awful. 
Sadly, it seemed as if there were more of the latter. (Prev:
11  Avg: 13.00)

18) Petteri Nokelainen: He isn’t
playing as much as he did when he was acquired and he isn’t doing a whole lot at
the moment aside from spot duty on the PK. (Prev: 18
 Avg: 17.67)

19) Raphael Diaz: He looks lost out
there right now and the main reason I don’t have him at the bottom of the
defensive list as at least he didn’t directly cost the team a goal. (Prev:
17  Avg: 13.00)

20) Alexei Emelin: Yes, he can hit. 
That doesn’t mean he has to be in there all the time.  He frequently looked
confused and out of place; his indecisiveness played a role in Phoenix tying it
in the 3rd which deservedly got him benched. (Prev:
 Avg: 14.67)

21) Scott Gomez: His game in Nashville
looked like the typical game from someone who hadn’t played in a few weeks and
wasn’t entirely 100%; he had some strong moments mixed in with some head
scratchers. (Prev: N/A  Avg:

22) Michael Blunden: That was about as
quiet a send-off as there could possibly be.  Believe it or not, he did
play in two of the games though you’d never have noticed. (Prev:
19  Avg: 19.67)

The Dog

They may have got a win at the end but most of
the week was one to forget for the Bulldogs who continue to battle just to stay
out of the division basement.


November 8:

Chicago 4, Hamilton 1

November 11:

Grand Rapids 8, Hamilton 0

November 13:

Hamilton 5, Binghamton 2


It was a trio of 20 year olds who
contributed half of Hamilton’s offence as the veterans were largely quiet.









5 Alex Henry 3 0 0 -3 1 2
6 Joe Stejskal 3 0 0 -3 2 0
7 Joe Callahan 3 0 3 E 6 2
10 Philip DeSimone 3 0 0 -2 4 4
11 Alain Berger 3 0 0 -2 7 0
13 Zack FitzGerald 3 0 0 E 0 5
14 Michael Blunden 1 0 0 E 1 0
15 Phillipe Lefebvre 3 0 0 -1 7 0
16 Olivier Fortier 3 0 0 -4 4 0
17 Mark Mitera 3 0 0 -1 2 4
18 Dany Masse 3 0 0 -5 6 0
20 Louis Leblanc 3 1 0 E 9 0
22 Andreas Engqvist 3 1 0 +1 3 6
23 Joonas Nattinen 3 1 0 -1 5 4
24 Brian Willsie 3 1 1 -1 12 2
28 Aaron Palushaj 1 0 0 -1 4 10
32 Frederic St. Denis 3 1 2 -1 3 0
53 T.J. Fast 1 0 0 E 1 2
55 Garrett Stafford 3 0 0 -2 4 0
67 Alexander Avtsin 3 1 3 -1 8 0






29 Robert Mayer 1-0-0 .893 2.25
52 Nathan Lawson 0-2-0 .865 6.06


Goals: 5 tied with (3)
Assists: Brian Willsie (8)
Points: Brian Willsie (10)
+/-: Andreas Engqvist (+2)
PIMS: Zack FitzGerald (58)
Shots: Brian Willsie (52)


November 15: Peoria vs Hamilton
November 18:
Binghamton vs Hamilton (in Montreal)


As we all know, prospect development is an
inexact science at best and some teams are better at it than others.  In
recent years, the Habs have employed a few different strategies with varying
degrees of success.  Here are some examples.

– Throw him to the wolves early (Guillaume
Latendresse at 19, limited success).
– One full year in the AHL (P.K. Subban, seems to have been the right call).
– Keep him down the full entry level deal (Mathieu Carle, his development
– Two full AHL years with spot NHL time (Yannick Weber, coming along nicely).
– One full AHL year, then spend some time on the NHL roster without playing much
(Ben Maxwell, clearly that didn’t work).

Obviously there are others but let’s move on to
the topic at hand.  With Aaron Palushaj, the Habs seem to be employing what
I’d like to call the ‘yo-yo strategy.’  We sit roughly five weeks into the
season and already he’s been sent down and recalled three times.  As a
result, he really hasn’t gotten into a rhythm at either level.  He also has
played different roles with Montreal and Hamilton.  In the NHL, he has been
a bottom six forward with no special teams time while with the Bulldogs, he’s a
top liner getting huge minutes. 

The question, to me, is whether or not it’s
worth it to have Palushaj more or less split the season going back and forth. 
With Andrei Kostitsyn likely to return this coming week, Palushaj will be
Hamilton bound once more…until another forward goes down.  Personally, I
think this is hurting his development.  For him to succeed in the NHL,
Palushaj needs to be a top six forward in all likelihood.  Thus, he should
be spending as much time as possible in that role.  (If anyone is
thinking this seems familiar, this is the same argument Max Pacioretty presented
around this time last year and it looks as if it worked well for him.) 

I’ve long subscribed to the old theory that a
future offensive player needs to dominate in the AHL to have a shot at being a
productive NHL’er.  Thus far, he hasn’t done that and with his waiver
situation, he needs to do that this year.  Yes, it’s nice that he is
getting a chance at the very least to become better integrated into the team
culture which could help moving forward but that alone won’t make him a regular
next season.  Going down and honing his offensive game will…or at least
give him a better shot at succeeding.  Here’s hoping the Habs see the light
and give him that chance before it’s too late.

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