Friday, January 09, 2009

10 Games More

Rounding Out the First Half

[UPDATED with Fred's rankings - 11/01/09]

Just about halfway through now. Xmas and New Year's passed us by in a flash and we're well into 2009. It's started well for the Habs, with a solitary loss to the Devils to fret about. The last ten has been the best stretch of the season (believe it or not), 8 wins and 17 points in the last 10 games. Here are the stars from that stretch according to Tobalev (and myself for 4 games), three star selectors and other bloggers.

Who were the best players over the last ten games?

Apart from that loss and the tight win in Tampa, these games were all about offence. But with 17 goals in the last 3 you all knew that...

Our top team over 10 games (Season dome)

Forward 1: Alexei Kovalev
8 dome games and 2 game pucks for Kovy, who is either returning to form or just excelling in a very different way from last season. We've already remarked about how he has taken up the responsibility of captain very well and his production of late is encouraging too.

Forward 2: Andrei Kostitsyn
Only 4 dome appearances, but 3 game pucks. He certainly doesn't mess around – when he's on, he's on. And, more and more lately he's been on. Last night's game was a perfect example, as was his hat trick game. His re-emergence has alleviated a lot of the pressure on the rest of the offence and has made it so there's more than one threatening line every time out.

Forward 3: Robert Lang
2 domes and 2 game pucks. His inclusion in the top three with modest totals shows just how well balanced the Canadiens attack has been over this stretch – with contributions from just about everyone. Lang's hat trick game and his game against the Hurricanes were games in which he stood above his peers, but he has been improving for a while.

Honourable mentions (forwards): Plekanec (3 domes and a game puck, along with very solid 2-way play), Sergei Kostitsyn (3 domes, despite some low points) and Maxime Lapierre (a hat trick, game puck and 2 domes which is a huge contribution from the young centre).

Defenceman 1: Andrei Markov
7 domes and a return to his all-star form in the latter half of the 10 games. His last 2 efforts have been exemplary and he should receive plaudits for reviving the PP.

Defenceman 2: Roman Hamrlik
7 domes as well. Not quite the offensive maestro that Markov is, but his defensive displays have been pretty impressive. More than anything he has been consistent – responsible in large part for the consistent wins we have been seeing recently.

Honourable mention (defenceman): Josh Gorges is the clear number 3. His 4 domes aren't bad considering how good the other 2 have been.

Goaltender: Jaroslav Halak
4 domes and one game puck. Halak and Price were tied for this one, but let's just say Halak had to earn all his domes this time (certainly his last two). In honour of his determination and resolve, he gets the nod.

Honourable mention (goalie): Price – at the top of his game during the Tampa game. Such a shame he should get an injury. We still don't know what injury this might be. Very mysterious. We look forward to having him back.

En Route Pour La Coupe Power Rankings

[UPDATE: Fred's Poer Ranking's are ready. Here's the link]

A new top player in Fred's Power Rankings for the season. By no fault of his own (well we don't know that, really, maybe he injured himself with a snowblower), Carey Price has tumbled from the top. In to take the vacant prize is Robert Lang.

Now unlike my rankings which focus in on ten games, Fred's are cumulative. This means that the rankings he posted yesterday are the half season rankings for the Habs. Robert Lang #1? Not for me, but to each his own. Robert has been one of the top forwards and leader statistically. His latest games have pushed his value in many people's minds. For me #1 would have been Markov, Kovalev or Price. Fred is no fool though, those are his next three. So apart from Lang, we agree.

#5 is where I take massive issue with his choice. Alex Tanguay sits there ahead of Koivu (who made him on this team), Kostitsyn who apart from an injury and brief loss of identity has been outstanding and Hamrlik. Where Lang has been othing but a pleasant surprise, Tanguay has been question marks all round. He makes the most money on the team (not his fault or ours, that) and plays a very peripheral role. He stacked up points early, which no doubt help his rank, but let's be honest, he's been pretty lacklustre for a while. Though he chips in points, he has not done anything to take hold of a game in any real sense since about mid-November. He'd be well below the three difference makers I mentioned and probably behind Lapierre and Gorges as well.

From there on in, once again, it's convergence of the minds. Of final note is Chris Higgins, ranked where he should be right near the basement. But what a turnaround for him.Can we have imagined him being such an insignificant component of the team.

Three star selectors

Amazing, the Habs actually got some stars selected this time. Equally amazing was the ability of so many different players to turn up in the lists. The tally confirms what we thought, though, for the most part, some surprises though...

Based on 5 points for first star, 3 for second and 1 for third. here's their dome:

Forward 1: Andrei Kostitsyn (2, 1, 0)
Forward 2: Sergei Kostitsyn (1, 1, 0)
Forward 3: Robert Lang(1, 0, 2)

Defenceman 1: Patrice Brisebois (1, 0, 0)
Defenceman 2: Andrei Markov (0, 1, 0)

Goaltender: Carey Price/Jaroslav Halak (0, 0, 1)

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