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HW Recap: A New Era Begins
HW Recap: A New Era Begins(2011-12-18 21:58 posted by B. La Rose)

In this week's HW Recap: For the 3rd time this season, we have a back-to-back top player in the weekly player rankings.  In Hamilton, the Bulldogs are on their best run of the season, picking up points in all three games this week and five straight overall.  Plus, my Final Thought discusses why fans shouldn't expect immediate changed in the wake of the coaching change.

Player Rankings

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) Erik Cole: His rough (and debatable) penalty stretch against the Devils aside, he was the lone winger who was a significant positive factor in each game; he now leads the Habs in goals as well. (Prev: 1  Avg: 4.90)

2) P.K. Subban: His offensive game sprung back to life as he picked up a point in each game while still playing in his shutdown role.  Expectations for his production will surely be going up with Cunneyworth now running the show. (Prev: 7  Avg: 8.70)

3) David Desharnais: For now, he has taken over the role of top offensive C as his line is the only one producing with any consistency.  He had a highlight reel goal against the Flyers and led all forwards in assists. (Prev: 10  Avg: 8.20)

4) Tomas Kaberle: I can't say he deserves all the credit for the PP actually looking like a PP but he gets a lot for sure.  In terms of 5-on-5 play, he was the only D who played in every game to not record a minus rating. (Prev: 8  Avg: 6.00)

5) Hal Gill: To be honest, he probably shouldn't be quite this high.  But he more than doubled his season point total so I have to give him his due for that. (Prev: 16  Avg: 13.67)

6) Lars Eller: Despite having different linemates (and not exactly the most dynamic offensively to boot) each game, he still managed to pick up a couple of points while slightly improving at the dot as well. (Prev: 15  Avg: 7.50)

7) Andrei Kostitsyn: The lone Montreal forward to record multiple hits in each game, he also provided an offensive spark at times.  On the negative side, he did whiff on a couple of good chances. (Prev: 9  Avg: 6.38)

8) Max Pacioretty: He didn't play poorly but this was one of his quietest weeks of the season thus far.  He seemed to be comfortable deferring to Cole which didn't turn out too badly. (Prev: 2  Avg: 4.33)

9) Josh Gorges: Same old, same old for him, good defensive play while failing to bury anything in the offensive zone.  I think it's safe to say his offensive output early on was a mirage. (Prev: 4  Avg: 7.20)

10) Mathieu Darche: He logged some important minutes on the penalty kill and chipped in with some rare points.  Yes, he's playing too much but he's making good things happen at least. (Prev: 18  Avg: 15.80)

11) Carey Price: He seemed to get worse with each game.  I think that can be attributed to overuse; the team signed a better backup in the offseason but are playing him less. (Prev: 3  Avg: 4.70)

12) Louis Leblanc: He provided some important tertiary scoring which was nice.  I'm concerned with his unwillingness to drive the net on rushes though, he always just shoots from the perimeter. (Prev: 20  Avg: 15.00)

13) Tomas Plekanec: Opponents' top lines weren't exactly being shut down which reflects poorly on him.  His offensive game has dried up, something that is never good from your top centre. (Prev: 5  Avg: 5.70)

14) Yannick Weber: He didn't play more than 6:24 in a game and still managed a pair of points.  You can't argue with that type of production from a 4th liner. (Prev: 21  Avg: 14.20)

15) Mike Cammalleri: He's managing to pick up some secondary assists along the way but he looks lost in the offensive zone.  He needs to get going again and fast. (Prev: 6  Avg: 10.89)

16) Petteri Nokelainen: It was nice that he pitched in offensively but I find it a little peculiar that he took only ten draws total.  That's not enough for a faceoff 'specialist.' (Prev: 17  Avg: 17.00)

17) Chris Campoli: He looked pretty good aside from an awful 3rd period against New Jersey.  His offensive game helped the PP and should help the transition game over time. (Prev: N/A  Avg: 17.00)

18) Michael Blunden: He once again saw very limited ice time but managed to make an impact on the scoresheet and in the physical department.  Efficiency is good. (Prev: N/A  Avg: 19.25)

19) Raphael Diaz: In the battle of the D's who played alongside Kaberle, he gets the nod for simply not making multiple mistakes in the game he played. (Prev: 12  Avg: 13.20)

20) Alexei Emelin: I now see why he was a healthy scratch early in the week as he is completely lost on the right side.  Don't be surprised to see him sit down again in the near future, he needs practice time before being thrown back out there. (Prev: 13  Avg: 13.00)

21) Travis Moen: He didn't do anything really in the few minutes he played before getting hurt.  Hopefully he's back soon as his defensive presence is important for the penalty kill. (Prev: 19  Avg: 12.60)

The Dog Pound

The Bulldogs are on their longest point streak of the season as they slowly try to get out of the conference and division cellars.

Results:

December 14: Lake Erie 2, Hamilton 1 (SO)
December 16:
Abbotsford 4, Hamilton 3 (SO)
December 18:
Hamilton 3, Abbotsford 2 (OT)

StatPack:

The offence continues to be sporadic for the Bulldogs who sit dead last in the AHL in that category.

SKATERS

# Player GP G A +/- SH PIMS
5 Alex Henry 3 0 0 E 4 4
6 Joe Stejskal 3 0 0 +1 2 2
7 Joe Callahan 2 0 1 E 1 2
10 Philip DeSimone 3 0 0 E 8 2
13 Zack FitzGerald 3 0 0 -1 0 6
15 Phillipe Lefebvre 3 0 1 E 0 0
16 Olivier Fortier 3 0 2 E 10 0
17 Mark Mitera 3 0 1 E 1 0
18 Dany Masse 3 1 1 +2 7 2
21 Ian Schultz 1 0 0 E 0 4
22 Andreas Engqvist 3 2 0 E 6 2
23 Joonas Nattinen 3 0 1 +2 1 2
24 Brian Willsie 3 0 0 E 16 2
28 Aaron Palushaj 3 1 0 E 7 2
32 Frederic St. Denis 2 0 3 +1 4 2
40 Gabriel Dumont 3 1 0 +2 11 0
51 Mitch Wahl 3 0 0 -1 3 0
53 T.J. Fast 1 0 0 E 0 0
55 Garrett Stafford 3 1 2 E 5 4
67 Alexander Avtsin 3 1 0 -2 4 4

GOALIES

# Player Record SV% GAA
52 Nathan Lawson 1-0-2 .935 1.88

SHOOTOUT - SKATERS

# Player G/ATT
10 Philip DeSimone 0/2
18 Dany Masse 0/1
24 Brian Willsie 0/1
28 Aaron Palushaj 0/2
32 Frederic St. Denis 0/1
40 Gabriel Dumont 0/1
51 Mitch Wahl 1/1
55 Garrett Stafford 0/1

SHOOTOUT - GOALIES

# Player SVS/ATT
52 Nathan Lawson 5/8

Active Leaders:

Goals: DeSimone/Engqvist/Masse (6)
Assists: Brian Willsie (11)
Points: Brian Willsie (14)
+/-: Andreas Engqvist (+3)
PIMS: Zack FitzGerald (113)
Shots: Brian Willsie (102)

Schedule:

No games scheduled until the 26th.

Final Thought

For those looking for my thoughts on the firing of Jacques Martin, I'll be holding those until our Writers Weigh In segment which will be in the near future, check back for that.

One of the many themes from those happy with Saturday's news was the thought of change, a new style, a new system.  Something that would immediately take away the memories of the dump and change system often employed, or the sitting back in the 3rd period.  Those fans got a rude awakening in the game against New Jersey which for the most part resembled any other game from this season.  A word of caution: Don't expect that to change any time soon.  Here's the two main reasons why:

- The Habs have a big road trip coming up with the lone real break being the Christmas break where they can't practice anyway.  I would assume that on a couple of their actual days off during the trip, they won't be skating to stay rested.  A team needs practice time to change their habits, something the Habs won't have in the immediate future.

- The personnel hasn't changed.  This is a team mired with injuries and an active payroll that hovers around the league floor.  As I discussed a few weeks ago, teams with those characteristics play a defensive, safe style to try and stay afloat.  Unless Cunneyworth has a mandate to increase Montreal's goals per game by a certain amount, it stands to reason that they'll be doing the same.

Now, there are differences between changes and tweaks.  The former is more substantial, the latter is a lot easier to implement in a short period of time.  In fact, we saw a tweak in Saturday's game with the removal of Mike Cammalleri off the penalty kill.  I suspect as the days go by (and perhaps with a player or two returning), we may see another one or two with regards to personnel in certain situations.  But, I wouldn't hold my breath on seeing anything more significant than that any time soon.

If you have any questions/comments, please feel free to drop me a line at b.larose@habsworld.net.



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