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Buffalo vs. Montreal | December 7th,2013 | 1900 EST
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In this week's HW Recap: Finding some positives in what was for the most part a disappointing week for the Habs that ended better than it started. It was reversed for Hamilton who started off strong and ended with a whimper while my Final Thought discusses Pierre Gauthier appearing at many various NHL arenas lately and why we shouldn't be reading too much into it.
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: The one thing that has impressed me lately is that despite the team struggling, his intensity level hasn't wavered and his production certainly hasn't either. (Prev: 3 Avg: 4.40)
2) Lars Eller: His final two games were both strong as he scored key goals in each while providing some strong PK efforts. One downside is his continued struggles at the faceoff dot which he needs to improve on soon. (Prev: 13 Avg: 7.33)
3) David Desharnais: He only had the one assist but was a catalyst on that top line and contributed to several good chances. He did pass up some good shooting opportunities though; his shot is decent and could catch goalies off guard. (Prev: 2 Avg: 7.73)
4) Max Pacioretty: Another strong week for the winger who is putting those fatigue concerns to rest. On his goal in Pittsburgh, it was impressive how high he shot from how tight he was, it was a true scorer's goal. (Prev: 1 Avg: 5.07)
5) Andrei Kostitsyn: His effort against Washington was terrible but he then turned around after suggesting he'd take less to re-sign in Montreal and put up a pair of good games. (Prev: 17 Avg: 7.54)
6) Alexei Emelin: He's not here for his physical play but rather his defensive efforts. He did very well in breaking up some key rushes, something we haven't seen a lot of from him this year. (Prev: 22 Avg: 12.46)
7) Carey Price: He certainly wasn't at fault in the shutout loss to Washington while he played a good game in Toronto. Fortunately, his 'injury' isn't supposed to be serious. (Prev: 6 Avg: 5.13)
8) Scott Gomez: There's no denying the transition game is more effective with him now back in the lineup. Still minimal production but the energy is certainly there, something that can't be said for everyone. (Prev: 10 Avg: 13.43)
9) Hal Gill: This was the second straight week where it appeared limiting his minutes gave him that extra energy to compensate for his continued drop in mobility. He was once again quite effective shorthanded. (Prev: 11 Avg: 13.43)
10) Rene Bourque: The best way to sum up his week would be 'meh.' There were some good moments and some quiet ones, something I suspect we'll be getting used to. (Prev: 12 Avg: 11.00)
11) Tomas Kaberle: He's now the top point producing defenceman on the team (including his Carolina numbers). That's good for him I suppose but quite disappointing when you think about it. (Prev: 15 Avg: 11.43)
12) Travis Moen: It was another quiet week for him even though his line scored a few goals along the way. This is more of what he should be doing but after his offensive breakthrough this year, it's a bit disappointing. (Prev: 14 Avg: 11.60)
13) Raphael Diaz: His game against Washington was a struggle, he earned his seat in the pressbox in Pittsburgh. He bounced back well in Toronto though scoring the game winner. (Prev: 18 Avg: 12.27)
14) Josh Gorges: This was not his best week of the year, not even close. I will note that he looked better when paired up with Gill; he's trying to do too much with Subban and that's not his style. (Prev: 8 Avg: 8.33)
15) Tomas Plekanec: Something isn't right with him right now. He seems content to float around in the defensive zone and just looks disengaged too often. I'm not sure if he's hurt or not but some time off either way may be required. (Prev: 5 Avg: 7.33)
16) Peter Budaj: I don't think he had a bad game necessarily in Pittsburgh but he didn't help his cause either. It may be a few more weeks before we see him again. (Prev: 4 Avg: 9.14)
17) P.K. Subban: I think enough has been made of his struggles already so I'll stay away from that. I will caution him to be more careful; where there's controversy, there's Subban which isn't ideal for a #1 blueliner. (Prev: 7 Avg: 9.60)
18) Mathieu Darche: He did some great work defensively that went unnoticed. Sadly for him, his offensive game hasn't been noticed in a long time now and that's an area where he still is supposed to help. (Prev: 21 Avg: 15.80)
19) Michael Blunden: He was bumped back down to fourth line ice time (where he should be) and his game was less noticeable as a result. His continued physical play is encouraging though. (Prev: 9 Avg: 15.44)
20) Chris Campoli: Let's see, finding a positive...he showed he can at least play more than 6th/7th minutes. I think he'll be better wherever he inevitably gets dealt to, he's just not fitting in. (Prev: 19 Avg: 19.40)
21) Yannick Weber: The momentum from his game in Boston is long gone. Now he's playing like a fringe defenceman and is rightfully getting played as one; that is to say not much. (Prev: 16 Avg: 11.57)
22) Petteri Nokelainen: Apparently he suffered an injury in Pittsburgh. At least that gives the team a better excuse to scratch him over the next little while. (Prev: 24 Avg: 18.69)
The Dog Pound
Last Saturday's 'Steeltown Showdown' was supposed to be a big stepping stone for the Bulldogs as a win would have got them within a few points of the division lead. Instead, a tough loss has led to some big questions.
The third line of Masse-Dumont-Schultz was Hamilton's best as they had a hand in half the goals the team scored.
|32||Frederic St. Denis||2||0||0||-1||1||2|
Goals: Andreas Engqvist (13)
Assists: Garrett Stafford (17)
Points: Aaron Palushaj (27)
+/-: Andreas Engqvist (+9)
PIMS: Zack FitzGerald (146)
Shots: Brian Willsie (150)
January 24: Hamilton vs Lake Erie
January 27: Toronto vs Hamilton
January 28: Hamilton vs Lake Erie
Montreal GM Pierre Gauthier has been spotted more than Waldo in recent weeks as he makes the rounds in advance of next month's trade deadline. At first, I thought there may be something imminent brewing but then I remembered that he is still the team's Director of Pro Scouting, he retained that title when he took over for Bob Gainey. Every GM picks up the scouting levels at this time of the year, especially those that are looking to sell.
Buying teams are generally seeking veterans that scouts and GM's are more familiar with as they've been around longer. Sellers are typically trying to get tabs on some of the younger players that they haven't seen as often. As Gauthier has covered nearly half the league in the last two weeks, this suggests he's in the latter category. Regardless of your preference (buy or sell), this should come as an encouraging sign to most as it appears that Gauthier is doing his due diligence, something it seems he didn't do in the trade a couple weeks back. Better late than never I suppose.
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