HW Recap: Now they start to win?
HW Recap: Now they start to win?(2012-03-18 22:00 posted by B. La Rose)

In this week's HW Recap: The Habs picked up points in every game with some strong performances from those not on the top line while in Hamilton, the Bulldogs' playoff hopes were all but crushed.  Although either squad won't be seeing playoff games, there still will be a shot to see several Habs in postseason action, that's the focus of my Final Thought.

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) David Desharnais: I'm not sure what's more impressive for his week, the fact he led the club in points or that he scored on a pair of impressive shootout moves.  On a team bereft of any consistent scorers in the post-game skills contest, I'm inclined to think the latter is more significant. (Prev: 8  Avg: 6.50)

2) Erik Cole: After his linemate (Pacioretty) started to pull away in the goal scoring race, Cole decided it was his turn to light the lamp a couple of times to close the gap.  Getting 30 is certainly doable for him. (Prev: 3  Avg: 4.36)

3) Tomas Plekanec: His efforts on the penalty kill alone place him among the Hab stars of the week.  Thanks in large parts to his efforts in Ottawa, the Habs once again sit atop the PK percentage standings with a season mark above the modern day record. (Prev: 5  Avg: 6.68)

4) Josh Gorges: Like Plekanec, his PK work puts him here.  The season is all but lost and he's blocking more shots now than he was earlier on.  I have a lot of respect for someone who plays that role no matter how insignificant the game. (Prev: 9  Avg: 8.86)

5) Carey Price: He played quite well in both Ottawa games, giving them a chance to win on the road when the Habs, aside from the PK, played possibly their worst game of the year.  Going 3/3 in the shootout was also good for his confidence. (Prev: 6  Avg: 5.27)

6) P.K. Subban: He could still stand to cut down on some of the 'extras' but he continued his strong 5-on-5 play from recent weeks, even though the offence wasn't there this time. (Prev: 2  Avg: 9.18)

7) Max Pacioretty: Although he didn't tickle the twine (a rarity this last little while), he helped set up a couple of goals.  For an 'off week,' there's nothing wrong with that. (Prev: 1  Avg: 4.19)

8) Peter Budaj: He put up a pair of solid starts.  That's good on a couple of levels, one for his own confidence going into next season but this should give Randy Cunneyworth some extra confidence to use him more down the stretch. (Prev: 16  Avg: 9.40)

9) Alexei Emelin: He is being counted on to play even more with the frequent injuries and is looking more comfortable with Markov playing alongside him most of the time.  This could be the start of next year's second pairing. (Prev: 10  Avg: 11.20)

10) Andrei Markov: The defensive zone breakout just looks so much better with him in the lineup.  Defensively he is still making some mistakes as he is slow to react but so far so good on his return. (Prev: 11  Avg: 10.50)

11) Louis Leblanc: He seemed to be on a few different lines throughout the week and scored a nice goal against the Islanders.  I'd still like to see him in Hamilton before the end of the year, they have more games to play and he'll get more ice time which is what he needs. (Prev: 17  Avg: 15.18)

12) Petteri Nokelainen: I didn't like the penalties he took, but I did like the production.  A pair of assists from a fourth liner getting sparing minutes is nice...I just want to know where that offence was the last three months. (Prev: 22  Avg: 18.56)

13) Tomas Kaberle: The powerplay looked worse without him in the lineup.  That's the good news although bad is that defensively the team looked better.  He'll need to shore up his play in his own zone to see more than sparing minutes the rest of the way. (Prev: 7  Avg: 10.93)

14) Lars Eller: The game in Buffalo was a prime candidate for his worst of the season.  He played a bit better as the week went on but this was not his best week to say the least. (Prev: 4  Avg: 7.68)

15) Aaron Palushaj: I'm not sure that was how he wanted to get his first NHL goal (banking one from behind the goal line) but the fact it went in was all that matters.  Now, he needs to start putting a few more in to help his cause for next year. (Prev: 18  Avg: 18.08)

16) Ryan White: There's no doubt he's trying his best out there but until last game, he was being grossly miscast as a winger on what should have been a scoring line.  He has demonstrated his future is as a 4th liner, it would be nice to see him used there. (Prev: 14  Avg: 12.00)

17) Frederic St. Denis: He gave the Habs what they needed, a steady sixth defenceman.  He was quietly sent down prior to Saturday's game but I wouldn't be surprised if we see him again before the end of the season. (Prev: N/A  Avg: 16.80)

18) Michael Blunden: He looked a step slower than usual but that can probably be attributed to his injury.  He too will be one to follow as he fights for a roster spot next year. (Prev: N/A  Avg: 16.17)

19) Rene Bourque: On the plus side he played well shorthanded and scored a shootout goal.  That clearly isn't enough and he's heard it from just about everyone now, it's up to him to shut up the critics. (Prev: 15  Avg: 13.00)

20) Chris Campoli: His game against the Senators at home was terrific, likely his best of the year.  Beyond that though, he wasn't particularly strong.  He's not helping his case of catching on somewhere next year. (Prev: 20  Avg: 18.64)

21) Yannick Weber: I'm not placing him here for his defensive play, he looked okay in that regard.  But with Markov, Kaberle, and Diaz ailing, he did not step up offensively when needed, that element is what is most important for his future chances. (Prev: 19  Avg: 15.86)

22) Blake Geoffrion: The momentum after scoring his first goal...well, it simply wasn't there.  I think he too should be seeing some fourth line ice time though as it appears that's the role he'll be heading for next season. (Prev: 13  Avg: 16.33)

23) Brad Staubitz: His highlight of the week was losing a fight that gave Ottawa some momentum on home ice.  Why is that his highlight?  It's the only time he did anything to remotely get noticed. (Prev: 21  Avg: 19.67)

The Dog Pound

If anyone thought the Bulldogs had any playoff hopes before this week, they surely are gone now despite an impressive win to start things off.

Results:

March 13: Hamilton 4, St. John's 2
March 14:
St. John's 6, Hamilton 0

March 17: Grand Rapids 5, Hamilton 3

StatPack:

There wasn't a ton of scoring to get excited about but a pair of players picked up their first as Bulldogs this week.

SKATERS

# Player GP G A +/- SH PIMS
3 Robert Slaney 3 1 0 E 4 0
5 Alex Henry 3 0 0 -1 2 2
6 Joe Stejskal 3 0 0 E 2 4
10 Philip DeSimone 3 0 2 +1 5 4
11 Alain Berger 3 0 2 E 5 0
13 Zack FitzGerald 3 0 0 -1 2 15
14 Trevor Hendrixx 1 0 0 E 0 5
15 Phillipe Lefebvre 3 0 0 E 1 0
17 Mark Mitera 3 0 0 -2 2 6
21 Ian Schultz 3 1 2 -1 6 0
22 Andreas Engqvist 2 1 0 E 5 0
23 Joonas Nattinen 3 1 0 E 5 2
24 Brian Willsie 3 0 1 -2 7 12
26 Eric Lampe 3 0 0 -3 5 0
27 Joey Haddad 3 1 0 E 4 0
32 Frederic St. Denis 1 0 2 +2 2 0
40 Gabriel Dumont 3 2 2 E 9 2
44 Olivier Dame-Malka 3 0 1 -2 6 0
53 T.J. Fast 2 0 0 -2 1 0
67 Alexander Avtsin 3 0 0 -2 5 0

GOALIES

# Player Record SV% GAA
29 Robert Mayer 0-1-0 .889 4.72
52 Nathan Lawson 1-1-0 .906 2.63

Active Leaders:

Goals: Andreas Engqvist (19)
Assists: Frederic St. Denis (25)
Points: Andreas Engqvist (35)
+/-: Robert Slaney (+2)
PIMS: Zack FitzGerald (227)
Shots: Brian Willsie (195)

Schedule:

March 20: Hamilton vs Rockford
March 23: Hamilton vs Milwaukee
March 24: Hamilton vs Chicago
March 25: Hamilton vs Peoria

Final Thought

Habs hockey in May.  At first glance, surely an insane thought but with the World Championships looming, it's a distinct possibility that somewhere between a third and half of the Habs will be suiting up.  Here's a quick overview of the potentials that could be invited in my opinion.

Canada
Surefire Invitees: Carey Price, P.K. Subban
In the mix: David Desharnais, Josh Gorges (Desharnais isn't a top 4 C among non-playoff teams but some will say no while he could get a look on the wing)

USA
Surefire Invitees: Max Pacioretty, Erik Cole
Longshot: Blake Geoffrion (lately a couple of non-NHL'ers have been invited, he could be considered if they do that again based on last year's success)

Russia
Surefire Invitee: Alexei Emelin
In the mix: Andrei Markov (if healthy)

Czech Republic
Surefire Invitees: Tomas Plekanec, Tomas Kaberle (highest scoring Czech d-man this year)

Switzerland
Surefire Invitee: Raphael Diaz
In the mix: Yannick Weber (something doesn't smell right about the last second reversal on joining the team last year)

Slovakia
Surefire Invitee: Peter Budaj

Denmark
Surefire Invitee: Lars Eller

Sweden
In the mix: Andreas Engqvist

Finland
In the mix: Petteri Nokelainen

Now obviously not all of the surefire invitees will accept their invites, injuries that we don't know about will stop some as will potential contract issues with those on expiring deals (which could come into play for Price and Subban).  But it's safe to say that quite a few of the above list will off to Finland or Sweden (depending on where their preliminary games will be played) giving us at least for a couple of weeks the chance to see some Habs in 'postseason action.'

If you have any questions/comments, please feel free to drop me a line at b.larose@habsworld.net.



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