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In this week’s HW Recap: It may have been the
final week for the season for the Habs but they put forth some of their better
efforts of the year while picking up 5 of 6 points.  In Hamilton, the
miracle playoff run was over before it really got going as a pair of weekend
losses ended their postseason hopes.  The Jacques Beauchamp Award was a
point of contention as many thought David Desharnais should have won, my Final
Thought discusses why he shouldn’t have even been a nominee.


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 did his best to
try and catch Cole for the team goal scoring title.  Even though he
finished 2nd on the team in that regard, it was still a terrific year for him;
to see him finish as strong as he did is quite encouraging. (Prev:
3  Avg: 4.17)

2) Erik Cole: Like Pacioretty, he
tickled the twine three times.  When he signed back on July 1st, did anyone
envision he’d be tied for 11th in the league for goals scored?  I know I
sure didn’t. (Prev: 1  Avg:

3) Tomas Plekanec: The shorthanded
goal (3-on-5) against Toronto was a thing of beauty.  On the powerplay he
also did the unimaginable – look decent while playing the point, something that
couldn’t be said earlier this season. (Prev: 2
 Avg: 6.32)

4) David Desharnais: I’m a little
surprised that when his linemates scored 6 goals, he only managed a single
assist on those tallies (plus one on another goal).  For his wingers to do
as well as they did though, he had to have played a larger role than the
statsheet indicates. (Prev: 9  Avg:

5) Peter Budaj: I know the Habs
weren’t facing the best of teams but he turned in some solid performances. 
Not only did the week really help his numbers, I’m sure it will be a confidence
booster leading into the Worlds where he’ll likely be Slovakia’s starter. (Prev:
6  Avg: 9.08)

6) Josh Gorges: Stop the presses, he
had a game where he didn’t block a shot (there weren’t too many of those this
year).  On the flipside, he picked up a point in each of the three games, a
rarity for him. (Prev: 5  Avg:

7) P.K. Subban: He took some big
strides forward these last few weeks in his play away from the puck, his week
continued that trend.  The offence wasn’t there but the opponents weren’t
scoring when he was out either and that’s what matters most. (Prev:
4  Avg: 8.68)

8) Blake Geoffrion: Signs of life,
finally.  He played with a bit of a physical edge and chipped in with a
goal, that’s what should be expected of him in a bottom-6 role next season. (Prev:
18  Avg: 15.00)

9) Alexei Emelin: With the game he did
play, it’s hard to imagine he was playing injured (and had been for a while too,
he never really fully recovered from what put him out of the lineup briefly a
few weeks ago). (Prev:
14  Avg: 11.26)

10) Louis Leblanc: He showed a few
flashes but he wasn’t the same player he had been these last few weeks. 
Going back to Hamilton and playing a few more games will hopefully end his year
on a good note. (Prev: 8  Avg:

11) Andrei Markov: I don’t know about
you but the best news this week from him is that he didn’t get injured.  He
actually is healthy going into the offseason, a rarity the last little while. (Prev:
12  Avg: 10.60)

12) Lars Eller: I know he didn’t
exactly have the best of wingers but I was hoping for him to do a little more to
end his year on a better note. (Prev: 10  Avg:

13) Frederic St. Denis: Unlike last
week where he more or less played flawlessly in his own zone, he had his share
of struggles these last few games.  Fortunately, he rebounded well from
most of them and may have done enough to warrant NHL consideration next year. (Prev:
7  Avg: 15.00)

14) Tomas Kaberle: I don’t think he
was 100% when he came back.  It was more or less the usual for him, some
good moments in the offensive zone but some struggles in his own end. (Prev:
N/A  Avg:

15) Brad Staubitz: I’m happy he
managed to get a point, that puts him just behind Budaj for team scoring. 
Beyond that, he wasn’t particularly noticeable for any good or bad reason. (Prev:
16  Avg: 17.83)

16) Rene Bourque: Some players gave
their all to the very end, some didn’t.  I’m pretty sure we all know what
category he falls into. (Prev:
11  Avg: 13.67)

17) Aaron Palushaj: Against Toronto he
had a good game but he was pretty much invisible otherwise.  I think he has
done enough to get a qualifying offer but he’ll be on the fringe for next year
by the looks of it. (Prev:
20  Avg: 17.60)

18) Gabriel Dumont: In terms of a
merit-based callup, it shouldn’t have been him to begin with.  Short of one
impressive hit, he demonstrated why he shouldn’t have even been up to begin
with. (Prev:
N/A  Avg:

19) Chris Campoli: I liked his efforts
shorthanded – which begs the question why he was even out there – but for an
offensive blueliner, his presence in that end was largely non-existant. (Prev:
17  Avg: 18.29)

20) Michael Blunden: He had plenty of
ice time to make an impact but he went entire periods without really doing
anything to affect the game.  It’s not a foregone conclusion he’ll be
offered a deal in June. (Prev:
15  Avg: 16.67)

The Dog

The dream is over before it really began as
Hamilton’s thin playoff hopes were wiped out with a trio of losses during the
week.  On the plus side, the lineup is the healthiest it has pretty much
been all year.


April 3:

Oklahoma City 3, Hamilton 0

April 7:

Rochester 3, Hamilton 1

April 8:

Toronto 3, Hamilton 1


Despite some of the
reinforcements, the offence was pretty much non-existent which was the main
reason for their struggles in the penultimate week of their season.









3 Robert Slaney 2 0 0 -1 5 0
5 Alex Henry 3 0 0 -1 2 5
6 Joe Stejskal 2 0 0 -1 2 0
7 Joe Callahan 2 0 0 -2 2 0
10 Philip DeSimone 3 0 0 -1 4 0
11 Alain Berger 2 0 0 -1 3 0
13 Zack FitzGerald 3 0 0 -1 1 22
15 Phillipe Lefebvre 2 0 0 E 2 0
16 Olivier Fortier 3 0 0 -3 9 0
17 Mark Mitera 3 0 1 E 4 0
18 Dany Masse 3 0 0 -4 2 2
20 Louis Leblanc 1 0 0 -1 4 0
21 Ian Schultz 3 0 0 -1 2 0
22 Andreas Engqvist 3 0 0 -3 5 0
23 Joonas Nattinen 3 1 0 -4 3 0
24 Brian Willsie 3 1 1 -2 15 4
25 Jesse Todd 1 0 0 E 1 0
27 Travis Novak 2 0 0 -1 1 0
28 Aaron Palushaj 1 0 0 -1 1 0
32 Frederic St. Denis 1 0 0 -1 4 0
40 Gabriel Dumont 1 0 0 E 0 2
44 Olivier Dame-Malka 1 0 0 -2 2 6
51 Blake Geoffrion 1 0 0 -1 2 0
53 T.J. Fast 3 0 0 -1 3 2
55 Garrett Stafford 1 0 0 E 2 0
67 Alexander Avtsin 1 0 0 -1 2 0






29 Robert Mayer 0-1-0 .920 2.04
39 Peter Delmas 0-2-0 .923 2.02

Active Leaders:

Goals: Andreas Engqvist (19)
Assists: St.Denis/Willsie (25)
Points: Brian Willsie (42)
+/-: Alex Henry (+2)
PIMS: Zack FitzGerald (257) (tied for the league lead)
Shots: Brian Willsie (239)


April 13: Hamilton vs Lake Erie
April 14: Grand Rapids vs Hamilton
April 15: Grand Rapids vs Hamilton


Josh Gorges was the recipient of Montreal’s
annual Jacques Beauchamp award this week, given to a player who more or less
played well without getting enough acknowledgement for it.  In years past,
it went to the likes of Maxim Lapierre, Mark Streit (before he took off
offensively), Steve Begin, and Joe Juneau.  Note the lack of a scorer on
there.  Yet for some odd reason, there was shock that the award didn’t go
to David Desharnais.  What exactly is unsung from a 60 point getter? 
He received lots of votes for the 3 Stars (as voted by the fans) and was the
focus of countless articles and discussions about his breakout season. 
That’s more than enough coverage.  Desharnais had a terrific season and
deserves a ton of credit for it but that should come in the form of being in the
discussion of one of the team MVP’s, not the unsung hero.

For that matter, I’m not sure Gorges fits the
mold either although he does a lot more than Desharnais.  For weeks now,
his blocked shot total (3rd highest league wide since the lockout) has been
discussed around the league.  As the player who played the second most ice
time on the team per game, that too doesn’t really qualify as all that
unexpected.  If I had a vote, he’d have been in my top-5 but not at the
top.  So who would have been my top picks?  Interestingly enough, both
players that jump out at me didn’t crack the top-5 in voting.

Raphael Diaz is the definition of a player
coming out of nowhere to have a bigger than anticipated impact on the Habs. 
Let’s not forget back in September pretty much everyone had him heading for
Hamilton.  I had him playing with the Habs at some point but not right
away.  Instead, he instantly became a regular and a somewhat productive
one.  He logged more minutes than most defencemen (only Subban/Gorges
played more) and although he doesn’t lay out anyone with the body, he plays a
solid positional game.  Because some fans thought he was holding back
Alexei Emelin, he has been unjustifiably harshly criticized in the public eye.

Then there’s Travis Moen.  Yes, we all
bemoaned the fact (I did several times in my weekly columns) that he played a
top-6 role but he was Mr. Versatility for the season.  He played on all 4
lines and saw some PP time while being an anchor on the PK.  He became a
bit of a scapegoat for Montreal’s offensive ineptitude at times as a result but
that’s a bigger role than anyone expected him to carry and he did so relatively
well.  His case reminds me a bit of Streit’s in that he got shuffled
between a variety of roles playing adequately in most of them.

I suspect what might have held these guys back
was injuries but I sure hope they were at least considered by some of the
voters.  These aren’t sexy picks by any stretch of the imagination but
they’re not supposed to be, that’s not what this award has historically been
for.  It’s not for the top scorers on the team so this is not yet another
insult to Desharnais as some in the media have tried to dub it.  We’ve had
enough controversies on the season, we don’t need another one, especially when
the non-selection is justified.

Although the Habs’ season is over, the Bulldogs
have another full week of games ahead of them so there will be one final HW
Recap in its usual Sunday slot next week.  In place of the player rankings,
prospects will be the focus as we start to approach the Memorial Cup next month.

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