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Game 1: Habs vs Lightning, 7 PM
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In this week's HW Recap: The Habs only had one game but boy, was it a fun one to watch as we got to see an offensive explosion. That same explosion was non-existent in Hamilton as their playoff hopes took a huge hit while one player who has taken a huge hit in the media in recent days, P.K. Subban, is the focus of my Final Thought.
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) David Desharnais: It was a very effective night for him as he seemed to be able to do whatever he wanted, when he wanted to do it. No matter who the opponent, that's impressive. (Prev: 3 Avg: 7.31)
2) Erik Cole: I'm running out of good things to say about him. He keeps bringing his 'A' game on a nightly basis and he keeps producing as a result. (Prev: 1 Avg: 4.25)
3) Max Pacioretty: He was the quietest of his line as his ice time was surprisingly limited but he still managed a couple of points. It was an efficient game for sure.. (Prev: 4 Avg: 4.93)
4) Rene Bourque: He was a force some shifts and quiet on others. The good news is there was more of the former than the latter and when he was on, he was strong out there. (Prev: 10 Avg: 8.67)
5) Carey Price: Generally the goalie gets overlooked when a team puts up seven but he had a quietly impressive game. He killed any chance of Detroit getting back into the game in the second. (Prev: 7 Avg: 5.13)
6) Tomas Kaberle: Helm made him look bad in his own end the once but it was a good defensive effort beyond that while he continued to chip in offensively. (Prev: 11 Avg: 10.75)
7) Lars Eller: He was the only one on his line that really stood out in a positive way. His mini point streak continued while his defensive game was strong as well. (Prev: 2 Avg: 7.31)
8) Alexei Emelin: He had a goal and one other prime scoring chance. That may very well have doubled his total in that department; I'm happy for him that he finally got that first one behind him. (Prev: 6 Avg: 12.14)
9) Scott Gomez: It was stupid that he was booed in the first place, let alone the fact he was before, during, and even after his great play to set up Bourque's goal. Booing him isn't going to make him better or make the team move him faster, let the guy try and get some confidence going instead of booing it away. (Prev: 8 Avg: 12.88)
10) Raphael Diaz: It seems only fitting that a day after getting named to the rookie roster for the All-Star Game that he moved into a tie for the highest scoring rookie d-man in the league. (Prev: 13 Avg: 12.13)
11) Tomas Plekanec: This was one of his better games recently...aside from the faceoffs. 2/15 on the draw is just awful which drags him down a few spots. (Prev: 15 Avg: 7.56)
12) Andrei Kostitsyn: He wasn't bad but he didn't stand out in any particular way. With the team likely needing to make a decision on his future soon, that's not ideal. (Prev: 5 Avg: 7.86)
13) Josh Gorges: A game like the Detroit one is a time where he isn't going to stand out in any way. He was decent and did well shifting from the left to right side when needed. (Prev: 14 Avg: 8.63)
14) Yannick Weber: He played the first period up front, the second on defence, and the third at forward again. Just playing through that is something in itself. (Prev: 21 Avg: 15.47)
15) Hal Gill: Like Gorges, a blowout game is one where he doesn't get noticed a whole lot. Also like Gorges, he switched partners with Subban's benching and looked okay in the process. (Prev: 9 Avg: 13.53)
16) Michael Blunden: With Moen out, he saw a boost in his ice time but unfortunately he had a very quiet game. That was a wasted opportunity for him. (Prev: 19 Avg: 15.50)
17) P.K. Subban: More on him in the Final Thought but the benching was deserved, hopefully that will hammer home the message from the coaching staff. (Prev: 17 Avg: 10.06)
18) Mathieu Darche: In a five goal victory, it's really hard to imagine anyone being a minus player. Somehow he managed to do so. (Prev: 18 Avg: 15.94)
19) Andreas Engqvist: There were two things I was looking for from him: Some energy and better faceoff prowess. He brought a bit of energy but struggled on the draw, something that has to improve for him to have a shot at being more than a callup. (Prev: N/A Avg: 19.75)
The Dog Pound
The good news is that Hamilton was able to get their revenge from their tough showing in the outdoor game from the week before. The bad news is that was book ended by a pair of losses to the Western Conference cellar dwellers that was playing their 3rd string goalie due to injuries.
Despite the overall offensive woes of the Bulldogs, D Garrett Stafford finds himself on a 9 game assist streak. That's the longest current streak in the league and the longest by a defenceman all season.
|32||Frederic St. Denis||3||0||2||-2||6||2|
Goals: Engqvist/Palushaj (13)
Assists: Garrett Stafford (18)
Points: Aaron Palushaj (28)
+/-: Andreas Engqvist (+7)
PIMS: Zack FitzGerald (146)
Shots: Brian Willsie (157)
February 3: Hamilton vs Grand Rapids
February 4: Hamilton vs Grand Rapids
Over the years, I've discussed a few different characteristics that can best describe the fanbase of the Montreal Canadiens. This year's predominant theme (so far at least) seems to be that it operates in a mob mentality. Once someone jumps on the bash somebody bandwagon, it doesn't take long for a lot of others to follow suit. We saw it with Scott Gomez (who now is getting booed when he plays well even), with Mike Cammalleri before, during, and after his trade, and now with last year's folk hero, P.K. Subban. Every mistake is being highly scrutinized and right now, it's as if he can do no right, even to those who felt he could do no wrong just last season.
As I hope Subban did during the All-Star break, everyone needs to step back from this and relax. He's 22 years old; any 22 year old, especially defencemen, are going to make some stupid mistakes. Expectations for him were sky high this year with many fans and pundits alike figuring he'd be good for about 50 points. Unfortunately, he has taken a step back in that regard this year but his development has taken a step forward in other regards. He's now playing more minutes and they are tougher minutes that before now that he plays most of the time against the opponents' top lines. That's still an important step for him to take.
Am I as a fan thrilled with his play this season? No, and I'm sure Subban would say the same if asked. But all is not lost here. The skill is still there as is the potential. I think a lot of the issues would go away (or at least be greatly improved) if he wasn't on so high of a pedestal. Do fans really need to chant his name every time he rushes up the ice? No. In essence, that's putting more pressure on a player who needs a lot less of it. Every player has their own way of working through struggles and Subban will too. Overanalyzing every little occurrence/play as fans and the media have in recent weeks will only hinder that process and that's the last thing that he or the team needs right now.
Note: As the Habs play this upcoming Sunday, next week's HW Recap will appear Monday, February 6th.
If you have any questions/comments, please feel free to drop me a line at email@example.com.