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Injuries are beginning to take their toll on the Hamilton Bulldogs, a team that won just one of their three games to slip even further into the North Division's basement. In Wheeling, the injuries aren't as worrisome but another loss now places them dead last in the ECHL. Assuming the NHL season gets going sometime soon, Alex Galchenyuk's playing status is sure to be a discussion point, my Final Thought looks at whether or not he should stay the full year in the OHL.
The Dog Pound
If there's one thing we should learn from the home-and-home series with the Marlies, it's that their games can lead to mayhem.
News and Notes:
- Blake Geoffrion was released from a Montreal hospital late in the week. Officially, no timetable has been specified for a return but it has been hinted that a full recovery time will be 8-10 months.
- Peter Delmas (ankle) and Nathan Beaulieu (elbow) are the most recent to join the walking wounded in Hamilton. However, Cedrick Desjardins returned on Friday while Louis Leblanc could return to the lineup in time for their upcoming trip to St. John's.
- Goalie Scott Darling, who attended training camp with Hamilton, signed a PTO with the Bulldogs to dress as the backup goalie for two of Hamilton's three games.
- Lines from the most recent game:
Quailer - Bournival - Palushaj
Blunden - Dumont - Gallagher
Nattinen - Boyce - Avtsin
Holland - Berger - Stortini
St. Denis - Ellis
Tinordi - Stejskal
Nash - Corbin
Benched for what reportedly was conditioning issues in training camp, Alexander Avtsin made his season debut this past week and made his mark on the scoresheet early.
Assists: Bournival/Boyce (5)
Points: Gallagher/Palushaj (8)
+/-: Brendon Nash (+3)
PIMS: Zack Stortini (48)
Shots: Brendan Gallagher (46)
November 20: Hamilton
vs St. John's
November 21: Hamilton vs St. John's
November 25: Lake Erie vs Hamilton
The Farm's Farm
There are two things that the Nailers can't buy at the moment. One is a win, the other is having a good game from the offence and the goaltending on the same night. Neither seems to happen which is why Wheeling hasn't won in a week.
Here is how the Wheeling players contracted to Montreal or Hamilton fared:
- Chaput is the team leader in shots with 36 on the season. Lefebvre (+2) is tied for the team lead in +/-.
November 21: Evansville vs Wheeling
November 24: Cincinnati vs Wheeling
Also, Scott Gomez made his season debut with Alaska this past week. He is off to a strong start as well, picking up two goals and three assists in three games. For those expecting him to maintain or improve upon those numbers, keep in mind that none of the other NHL'ers on that team (Brandon Dubinsky, Joey Crabb, and Nate Thompson) are averaging over a point per game so far this year.
When I was putting together my notes from this past Thursday on Alex Galchenyuk and his game in Barrie, there was one element I held off on commenting about - his NHL readiness. Now obviously a one game sample size isn't enough in itself to assess how ready or not he might be but from I saw that night, I think he could hold his own this year but not be an impact player in Montreal. Granted, I had that opinion going into the game and his performance, despite picking up two points, didn't sway me any.
There are areas that he has improved on (especially his skating which is better than advertised) but there are other weaknesses that can be exploited. One in particular that I think would really come into play is stamina. As much as we talk about how promising a prospect he is, he is behind nearly an entire year in his development. Having not played much at all last year, fatigue is going to creep into his game. In fact, I'd even suggest it may be beginning to now. That's not a bad thing but when a player misses that much time, it's going to come into play.
If Galchenyuk were to make the jump to Montreal for the season, I could really see this holding him back somewhat. First, the pace of the NHL game is much quicker and tougher than the junior level, that alone will take its toll. Also, any abbreviated season would mean a much more compressed schedule, one that will challenge even the most fit of players. As a result, we'd likely see him dropped into a bottom six role at times which isn't exactly ideal (future scoring forwards shouldn't be used as checkers in a perfect world). Could he hold his own? I'm sure he could, he certainly has the talent to. But should be placed in that situation? I don't think so. He's getting plenty of ice time in junior and that's where I feel he should stay this year. Alex Galchenyuk certainly is the future of this franchise...that future is worth waiting for a little while longer; it will be worth it in the end.
If you have any questions/comments, please feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.