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In this week's HW Recap: It was a successful week for the Habs in their annual Western road trip, highlighted by a pair of notable individual achievements. The Bulldogs sadly weren't as successful losing a pair of games and crippling their slim playoff hopes in the process. Plus, my Final Thought looks at some reasons to be interested in following the final games before early golfing season begins.
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: What a week to reach the 30-goal plateau, picking up four goals and three assists. Another hot streak like that could vault him into the top-5 in league scoring (goal wise). (Prev: 2 Avg: 4.05)
2) P.K. Subban: Confidence seems to go a long way in his game and it's safe to say he had it this week. The powerplay is running through him (and he's comfortable with that) which has played a big part in the team remembering how to score. (Prev: 5 Avg: 9.33)
3) Erik Cole: Although his lone goals came in Saturday's game, he had plenty of chances in the previous ones. Right now he's playing second fiddle to Pacioretty but I'll take his production from a second fiddle any day of the week. (Prev: 3 Avg: 4.48)
4) Lars Eller: He may not have a ton of goals on the year but once again, one of his tallies (from his knees) made most highlight reels. One of the 'nice' things with the recent injuries is that it makes it hard for the coach to sit him if he makes a mistake, he needs to play and play a lot. (Prev: 7 Avg: 7.38)
5) Tomas Plekanec: He actually was playing with NHL calibre wingers (all due respect to the likes of White and Geoffrion) and the offensive production that had been eluding him recently finally returned. (Prev: 9 Avg: 6.86)
6) Carey Price: Although he wasn't particularly sharp in Calgary, he was near flawless against a Vancouver team that came out flying. He held them in it long enough for the offence to get going which is what the team needed to have a shot at winning. (Prev: 4 Avg: 5.29)
7) Tomas Kaberle: Yes, he had some defensive gaffes. But he also played a big role in the Habs' offensive resurgence with his work with the man advantage and in the passing game (when they weren't landing on opponents' sticks instead). (Prev: 8 Avg: 10.77)
8) David Desharnais: It's a telling sign that he hasn't given up when he gets hurt early, stays in the game, and in his final full shift sets up a powerplay goal. Full props for the effort. (Prev: 1 Avg: 6.76)
9) Josh Gorges: It didn't get any attention but his assist added on Cole's first goal in Vancouver snapped an 18-game pointless streak. His week was overshadowed by the success of Subban. (Prev: 10 Avg: 9.10)
10) Alexei Emelin: I thought this week was a bit of a step back for him. His positioning was off at times (contributing to a team worst -4 on the week); he is at the point where big hits aren't enough on their own to call his games successful. (Prev: 6 Avg: 11.32)
11) Andrei Markov: It feels nice to finally comment on him, it's been too long. It was a tale of two games for him, he passed the puck very well but he wasn't reading and reacting quick enough defensively. That's fine, it will take some time for the rust to come off. (Prev: N/A Avg: 11.00)
12) Scott Gomez: A welcome return to the lineup (and I know I'm in the minority saying that) but he played with some good energy and had he had linemates who could actually handle a pass now and then, he'd have had more than just one assist. (Prev: 11 Avg: 12.54)
13) Blake Geoffrion: The game in Vancouver showed why he is still thought of as a legit NHL prospect. He got to the scoring areas and was aggressive with his shot, something he needs to do more regularly. (Prev: 14 Avg: 13.50)
14) Ryan White: When he focuses on actually playing and not trying to become the next Sean Avery with some of his after the whistle antics, he fills a useful role. But lately he is doing way too much of the latter for my liking. (Prev: 12 Avg: 12.67)
15) Rene Bourque: He had some chances on plays he generated himself but it seemed whenever someone was trying to set him up, he just wasn't getting the shots off quickly and accurately enough. (Prev: 13 Avg: 12.25)
16) Peter Budaj: The rust in his game showed although in the end he played well enough to get the win. It would be nice to see him play a few more games before the end of the year to see what he can do in more of a regular rotation. (Prev: N/A Avg: 9.56)
17) Louis Leblanc: His game in Vancouver was by far his best in recent weeks while he struggled in Calgary. He never is going to be a dominant physical player but he is a lot better when he plays with that little bit of an edge. (Prev: 19 Avg: 15.60)
18) Aaron Palushaj: Like Leblanc, one good game mixed in with a not-so-good one. The time is ticking on his future with this team, he needs to have more good ones in the near future. (Prev: 21 Avg: 18.36)
19) Yannick Weber: He picked up a couple of secondary assists which is nice but something is missing from his game right now. He should be playing with the desperation of a youngster knowing Raphael Diaz will soon return but he isn't. (Prev: 17 Avg: 15.60)
20) Chris Campoli: He saw more minutes than usual and as a result, there were more nerve wracking moments than usual when he was on the ice. That's the opposite effect a defenceman should have. (Prev: 16 Avg: 18.50)
21) Brad Staubitz: He can fight other teams' middleweights. That doesn't mean he's the solution as the enforcer moving forward while his overall play doesn't justify getting anything close to a regular shift. (Prev: 15 Avg: 18.00)
22) Petteri Nokelainen: He won a faceoff this week, that in itself is a step up from last week's performance. It will be interesting to see how long they keep him as a healthy scratch this time. (Prev: 20 Avg: 19.00)
The Dog Pound
You can't win if you can't score goals. That's a lesson the Bulldogs surely learned after combining for a whopping one goal in a pair of losses to division rival Toronto.
Although there wasn't a whole lot of offence, quite a few players found their way onto the scoresheet via the fisticuffs.
|32||Frederic St. Denis||2||1||0||-1||6||2|
Goals: Andreas Engqvist (18)
Assists: Frederic St. Denis (22)
Points: Andreas Engqvist (35)
+/-: Alex Henry/Robert Slaney (+2)
PIMS: Zack FitzGerald (212)
Shots: Brian Willsie (188)
March 13: Hamilton
vs St. John's
March 14: Hamilton vs St. John's
March 17: Hamilton vs Grand Rapids
Over the past few weeks and surely for the next few, the thought of watching Montreal games has been and will be met with a lot of disinterest and indignation. "There's nothing to watch for; why should I watch a team playing for the basement?" is a common phrase I've read and to be honest it's understandable given the extreme frustration that the 2011-12 season has brought about. Nonetheless, there are still some reasons to sit down and catch the remaining baker's dozen of games before early golfing season begins.
1) Pacioretty's Push: He already has become the first Hab to reach 30 goals in four seasons and if he keeps his current pace up, he could be the first to surpass the 35 goal plateau since Pierre Turgeon in 1995-96. A high end scorer like this doesn't come along often, we should be enjoying every bit of his season.
2) Double 30?: Erik Cole currently sits at 25 goals, or five shy of matching Pacioretty's 30. That 95-96 season was also the last time the Habs had a pair of 30 goal guys, a decent stretch run by Cole could put an end to that ugly run.
3) Mister Markov: Simply getting back into a game is a noteworthy accomplishment in itself. Now it will be interesting to follow his game-by-game progression to get a sense of what, if anything, he will be able to bring to the table next season.
4) Youth Movement: I touched on this a bit last week but getting a closer look at some of the youngsters will give us a glimpse into what could be another piece or two of the future core over the next few years.
5) It's the Habs: Five weeks from now we'll be bemoaning the fact we won't see any Habs hockey for another five months (and that will only take us to the preseason, the CBA permitting of course). We won't have too many more game days for a while so as frustrating as the season has been, it's still better than no game days at all; we'll see what that's like soon enough.
If you have any questions/comments, please feel free to drop me a line at email@example.com.