HabsWorld.net -- 

In this week’s HW Recap: Separating the
positives from the many negatives wasn’t easy but there were some good things to
discuss in the player rankings.  In Hamilton, the Bulldogs split a pair of
games but lost some crucial ground in the standings.  With the trade
deadline approaching quickly, my Final Thought looks at Tomas Kaberle’s
situation, should he stay or go?


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 was the lone
player who picked up a point in each game and the only one who was really a
regular threat in the offensive zone. (Prev:
3  Avg: 4.69)

2) Tomas Plekanec: He was more
Plekanec-like than we’ve seen in recent weeks from him.  He chipped in a
bit offensively and played extremely well in his own end, some positive signs. (Prev:
11  Avg: 7.24)

3) Mathieu Darche: Missing the near
empty net aside, he played some very strong games, especially on the penalty
kill.  That’s the type of effort that will keep him in the lineup. (Prev:
18  Avg: 15.18)

4) Alexei Emelin: He went for the big
hit a little too often but he was more assertive out there.  That was a big
part of his game in Russia and as his confidence grows, it will help here as
well. (Prev: 8  Avg:

5) Yannick Weber: Two points in limited
minutes while not playing every game.  In a week where there was little
offence, any type of offensive efficiency is a plus. (Prev:
14  Avg: 14.81)

6) Peter Budaj: He had little help
against Washington and gave the Habs a fighting chance for most of the game. 
It’s hard to ask more from a backup when the team is scuffling like this. (Prev:
N/A  Avg: 8.75)

7) Carey Price: He had a relatively easy
shutout against Winnipeg but he also really struggled against New Jersey, the
other game where the Habs scored enough to win (but didn’t). (Prev:
5  Avg: 5.24)

8) Aaron Palushaj: I was impressed with
both of his games.  He played with confidence in the offensive zone; as a
result, the 4th line kept the play on the opponents’ side of centre which is
something lacking from that unit most nights. (Prev:
 Avg: 17.43)

9) Lars Eller: He failed to hit the
scoresheet but when you consider who his linemates were most of the time, it’s
understandable.  He was good in his own end and when paired with offensive
players, he got some chances as well. (Prev: 7
 Avg: 7.41)

10) David Desharnais: He had a quiet
week.  He had the early goal in New Jersey and that was pretty much it from
him, not even many chances/defensive efforts to speak of. (Prev:
1  Avg: 7.47)

11) Erik Cole: The effort was there but
the production for the first time in a while wasn’t.  Staying out of the
box was also a concern for him. (Prev: 2  Avg:

12) Josh Gorges: He really wasn’t all
that noticeable which for him isn’t always bad.  The more his partner stays
in position, the more comfortable Gorges is out there. (Prev:
13  Avg: 8.82)

13) Andrei Kostitsyn: Like Desharnais,
he had the one decent game in New Jersey and then brought very little else to
the table regardless of who he played with. (Prev:
12  Avg: 8.20)

14) Tomas Kaberle: More on him later on
but he was okay.  For what he’s making though, it’s safe to be expecting a
little more than that from him. (Prev: 6  Avg:

15) P.K. Subban: He played better in the
last couple of games but he’s going to have to figure out how to play through
these struggles without becoming too unpredictable. (Prev:
17  Avg: 10.35)

16) Louis Leblanc: He wasn’t as
noticeable as his linemate in Palushaj but he too was more aggressive which was
nice.  The big thing for him is a lack of strength, something that was
evident a few times in his limited minutes. (Prev:
 Avg: 15.00)

17) Hal Gill: He seemed to be the odd
man out in the defensive rotation more than usual.  I’m not sure if that’s
a sign of fatigue/injury but it really limited him. (Prev:
15  Avg: 13.75)

18) Rene Bourque: Now we see why he had
a reputation for being an inconsistent floater with the Flames.  He had
some good moments but was invisible for large stretches. (Prev:
4  Avg: 11.00)

19) Scott Gomez: I don’t think he’s
playing all that badly, however, when you haven’t scored in so long, it would
seem logical that he’d try something different in terms of not staying on the
perimeter.  That’s still not happening. (Prev:
 Avg: 13.56)

20) Raphael Diaz: I honestly can’t
remember a thing about his week.  As someone that has been playing more and
being counted on for more, that’s a step in the wrong direction. (Prev:
10  Avg: 12.59)

21) Michael Blunden: The momentum from a
few weeks ago has come to an end, not only was he doing little out there but is
now on the IR with a knee injury to boot. (Prev:
16  Avg: 16.00)

22) Chris Campoli: The puck is not a
live grenade, you can handle it for more than a second or two.  He’s
rushing things way too often and bad things are happening as a result. (Prev:
N/A  Avg:

23) Andreas Engqvist: His game was the
one that sends the wrong message to the organization when he’s trying to make a
case to stay longer. (Prev:
19  Avg: 20.40)

The Dog

Hamilton split a pair of road games against
division rival Grand Rapids but ultimately lost ground as they once again sit
last in the AHL’s North Division.


February 3:

Hamilton 5, Grand Rapids 2

February 4:

Grand Rapids 5, Hamilton 2


Big periods are what defined the
week for the Bulldogs.  A 4-goal second period gave them their win, a
3-goal third period cost them dearly in their loss.









5 Alex Henry 2 0 0 +2 1 8
6 Joe Stejskal 2 0 1 +2 0 0
7 Joe Callahan 2 0 1 -2 2 0
10 Philip DeSimone 2 0 1 E 4 0
11 Alain Berger 2 0 0 -2 5 0
13 Zack FitzGerald 2 0 0 E 0 17
15 Phillipe Lefebvre 2 1 0 E 7 0
16 Olivier Fortier 2 1 1 -2 5 2
17 Mark Mitera 2 0 0 -1 2 0
18 Dany Masse 2 1 0 +1 3 0
21 Ian Schultz 2 1 1 +1 7 2
22 Andreas Engqvist 2 2 1 -1 7 2
23 Joonas Nattinen 2 0 0 -1 1 2
24 Brian Willsie 2 1 0 -1 5 4
32 Frederic St. Denis 2 0 3 -2 6 0
40 Gabriel Dumont 2 0 3 2 5 0
53 T.J. Fast 2 0 0 -1 2 2
67 Alexander Avtsin 1 0 0 E 0 2






29 Robert Mayer 0-0-0 1.000 0.00
52 Nathan Lawson 1-1-0 .887 3.82

Active Leaders:

Goals: Andreas Engqvist (15)
Assists: Garrett Stafford (18)
Points: Aaron Palushaj (28)
+/-: Engqvist/Henry (+6)
PIMS: Zack FitzGerald (163)
Shots: Brian Willsie (162)


February 7: San Antonio vs Hamilton
February 10: Albany vs Hamilton
February 11: Hamilton vs Toronto
February 12: Texas vs Hamilton


As we now sit 3 weeks before the
trade deadline, the talk has swung to who the Habs should be selling.  The
obvious names have been the names of the pending UFA’s but there are others that
are a little more contentious.  One of those is Tomas Kaberle who has done a lot
better since joining Montreal than he did with Carolina earlier this season.  In
fact, his point per game pace with the Canadiens is only just a handful off
where it was with Toronto last year prior to his trade to the eventual Cup
winning Bruins.  Now, I’m not sitting here saying Kaberle can fetch as good a
return as the Leafs got but at the same time, he has played well enough to the
point where the contract isn’t the albatross many made it out to be shortly
after the deal.

So it begs the question, what to do with the Czech-born defenceman?  On the one
hand, he is one of the few blueliners who actually has reasonably performed to
expectations (his full season projection based on his production so far is
nearly 50 points).  On the other, he is getting limited minutes and for a player
with a cap hit of $4.25 million for this and the next two seasons, getting
limited minutes isn’t a good thing.  The easy answer is to say yes, unload the
contract and take what you can, it would probably be a better return than had
they held onto Jaroslav Spacek and tried to move him now.  But then the team is
basically down to just P.K. Subban in terms of defencemen capable of putting up
points (and even he has struggled at that this season). 

As much as it probably hurts to read, his situation is probably another one that
hinges on the shaky knees of Andrei Markov.  If he can be ready to play next
year, Kaberle’s need wouldn’t be so great.  If there is uncertainty, then
Kaberle would help fill that glaring hole for another season.  The UFA market is
very thin for defencemen capable of producing on the scoresheet so it’s doubtful
they can try to use that route to help the cause in July.  Markov’s skating now
but it’s not like that hasn’t happened a few times already this year, it’s hard
to glean anything from that.  If I was making the decision, I’d be open to
dealing Kaberle but I wouldn’t give him away for nothing just to try and get out
of the contract as some are suggesting.  The contract isn’t the greatest
but he does hold some value both now and moving forward.

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