HW Recap: The Sinking Feeling Continues
HW Recap: The Sinking Feeling Continues(2012-02-06 21:56 posted by B. La Rose)

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?

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) 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: 11.60)

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: N/A  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: 4.65)

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: 11.11)

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: N/A  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: 9  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: 19.83)

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 Pound

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.

Results:

February 3: Hamilton 5, Grand Rapids 2
February 4:
Grand Rapids 5, Hamilton 2

StatPack:

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.

SKATERS

# Player GP G A +/- SH PIMS
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

GOALIES

# Player Record SV% GAA
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)

Schedule:

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

Final Thought

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 b.larose@habsworld.net.



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