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In this week's HW Recap: The Habs squandered some precious chances to really get back into the playoff race but the Player Rankings highlight some of the good performances mixed in with the bad. In Hamilton, the depleted Bulldogs had a terrific week to give themselves an outside shot at a playoff spot while my Final Thought looks at something fans can look forward to, a rarity in this disappointing season.
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: There wasn't anything flashy to his game, he just produced game in and game out, picking up an assist in each of the four games while picking up a goal against the 'Canes. I'm not one to argue much with production. (Prev: 5 Avg: 7.00)
2) Max Pacioretty: Like Desharnais, he collected at least a point in each game. He seemed to be flustered a few times, I wonder how much of that is from increased checking or his own increasing expectations. (Prev: 5 Avg: 7.00)
3) Erik Cole: You have to love his determination, he was battered and bruised numerous times against the Devils and just kept going out there. His production wasn't as good as his linemates but it was still a solid week. (Prev: 6 Avg: 4.63)
4) Tomas Plekanec: He isn't here solely for his offensive contributions but rather the fact he was really the only one on his line that really accomplished much of anything in that end of the ice. He's slowly coming back around. (Prev: 3 Avg: 6.84)
5) P.K. Subban: For the most part his decision making was much, much better. Some of the other smaller issues (such as shot predictability) remain but being defensively sound is the most important thing for him right now. (Prev: 8 Avg: 9.95)
6) Ryan White: For someone making his season debut, he looked as if he was in midseason form. I'm not even too interested with the fight he had but the energy he brought to his line helped rejuvenate it. (Prev: N/A Avg: 6.00)
7) Tomas Kaberle: Unlike last week, the production was there with a timely goal and a couple of helpers. Defensively he's still his usual self but he was brought in to put points up and he did just that. (Prev: 18 Avg: 11.36)
8) Scott Gomez: He responded well to his mini-benching from earlier in the week. His skating is still something to admire when he's going full speed while he managed to pop home another goal. Still not good enough but he's starting to become at least a positive contributor. (Prev: 10 Avg: 12.73)
9) Josh Gorges: With Subban being more on track in the defensive zone, it seemed to put Gorges more at ease. He really seemed to be focused on his own end, he didn't pinch much at all (usually we see a few per game from him). (Prev: 13 Avg: 9.05)
10) Carey Price: He had some good moments but some shaky ones as well. I can't help but wonder if he's beginning to become a little too overworked considering he's playing more than last year. (Prev: 2 Avg: 5.32)
11) Mathieu Darche: He played well in his own end but was a non-factor offensively for the most part. If he's getting that many minutes, he needs to produce with some sort of regularity. (Prev: 7 Avg: 14.53)
12) Raphael Diaz: His poise with the puck in the offensive zone really impressed me. He made the right calls on when to shoot fast or to wait for the screen to develop. That's a big part of offensive zone success. (Prev: 16 Avg: 12.74)
13) Alexei Emelin: He took a step back with his defensive zone reads, frequently losing his check or mis-reading the play. Those types of ups-and-downs are a bit understandable though given his different partners. (Prev: 12 Avg: 11.71)
14) Lars Eller: Welcome back to the doghouse. Plekanec's resurgence has coincided with a drop in his play when it really should be more complementary. (Prev: 4 Avg: 7.58)
15) Andrei Kostitsyn: He's doing well to hurt his trade value right now, getting benched didn't elicit the expected and required response from him. The only question now is whether he'll get that 100th goal as a Hab. (Prev: 17 Avg: 9.12)
16) Chris Campoli: No problems with the production which was decent but it came at an expense of defensive responsibility. It is clear he is trying to showcase himself, he is trying to do way too much on his own. (Prev: 14 Avg: 18.63)
17) Rene Bourque: He is making his numerical predecessor look like the model of consistency, something I thought to be impossible. Like Darche, if he's playing a top-6 role, he has to bring something offensively to the table. (Prev: 9 Avg: 11.67)
18) Hal Gill: It was a pretty quiet ending to his tenure as a Hab which isn't necessarily bad. His success was playing that style of game and he did that fairly well, I for one will certainly miss him. (Prev: 18 Avg: 14.06)
19) Louis Leblanc: He looked overmatched too often out there although I wonder if feeling less than 100% might have had something to do with it. Another short stint in Hamilton when healthy couldn't hurt. (Prev: 11 Avg: 15.00)
20) Yannick Weber: I'm starting to think his future is better as a RW and point shot on the PP than as a defenceman. Considering he's playing D right now, that should say all you need to know. (Prev: 19 Avg: 19.33)
21) Aaron Palushaj: I'm not sure why he was called up to begin with as it's clear he doesn't have the confidence of Cunneyworth right now. Another opportunity wasted to help his shot at sending the right message to management. (Prev: 20 Avg: 18.11)
The Dog Pound
Despite missing seven forwards who are injured and three others on recall, what's left of the Hamilton Bulldogs put on an impressive display of offence en route to a perfect 3-0 week, signalling that they haven't given up on their playoff hopes just yet.
No fewer than five players made their Bulldog debut this week, a couple of which pitched in on the scoresheet as well. Another tripled his goal total on the season from 2 to 6 en route to being named the AHL's Player of the Week.
|32||Frederic St. Denis||3||0||1||+3||5||2|
Goals: Andreas Engqvist (16)
Assists: Frederic St. Denis (19)
Points: Andreas Engqvist (30)
+/-: Ian Schultz (+6)
PIMS: Zack FitzGerald (184)
Shots: Brian Willsie (165)
February 22: Hamilton vs Grand Rapids
February 24: St. John's vs Hamilton (in Montreal)
February 26: Hamilton vs Toronto
For years, there has been an aura of expectation surrounding the Habs and the Trade Deadline. "This is going to be the year something happens, I just know it," is a common sentiment among fans at this time of year. As we all know, not a whole lot as happened. As the Habs are primarily going to sell, it appears that's going to change this year. They have some of the better names on the market and there are lots of buyers. Unless they do like they did with Gill and get the right offer early, expect the Habs to be one of the busier teams this coming Monday. As a team that has struggled all year, this is one of the few times of the year to look forward to as personally, I find it more fun to sell than buy on deadline day as for the most part, the buying team is paying a hefty price on any sort of impact player. It's time for the Habs to reap those rewards. There hasn't been much to enjoy this season but this should be one of the few.
Please note that with the Habs playing this coming Sunday and the Trade Deadline being Monday, the HW Recap will take a one week hiatus and will return in March. If you have any questions/comments, please feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.