Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Late Return to 98-Point Pace

The Story Of Games 61 to 70

Last time we met, the Canadiens had fallen below the point harvesting rate necessary to pace them to 98. This ten games did not see them claw too far back, but they did get 12 points out of the 10 games.

The ten-game stretch started with Carbonneau finding a way to win and with the form goalie earning his starts. It ended with Carbonneau on the curb and the starting goalie getting starts by appointment again. Tell me if it's coincidence that the victories came when players were working for their places in the lineup...

As for the ten games, it's starting to be come a bit of a broken record. Because no one player ever takes charge (or has a string of more than 3 good games), this tabulation might not show anything in such small chunks. By the end of the season, it should enlighten us to who had good portions (if not a whole) of a season.

Our top team over 10 games (Season dome)

Forward 1: Saku Koivu
7 domes and 1 game puck. He started this segment with 5 straight domes and some impressive play. The last five have been punctuated by a brilliant game 67, in which he saved this team and their points and a few sub-Koivu performances. Nonetheless, he still stands out as a performer over the last while.

Forward 2: Tomas Plekanec
6 domes and a game puck. He's been good for a long while now. And, since his production has gone up (mainly thanks to some timely luck) even stats-page watchers are giving him credit. As of this moment, I can say I am most comfortable when Tomas is on the ice – out of any Canadiens player.

Forward 3: Alexei Kovalev
3 domes and a game puck. This is where it gets a bit sad for the Habs. Kovalev certainly had his moments over the last 10, but he only played 8 games. The fact that no other forward could really eclipse his mark (Kostitsyn for example) is very very painful for the Habs at the moment.

Honourable mentions (forwards): Not sure honourable is the right word, but here they are – Higgins (4 domes) and Andrei Kostitsyn (3 domes and a game puck). Higgins has been constant in his effort and play, unfortunately that now means goal drought after goal drought. Andrei for his part needs some help, he remains the only player who can flash greatness from nowhere. A little better strategic deployment might help.

Defenceman 1: Andrei Markov
8 dome appearances and 2 game pucks for Markov. Andrei is the only player that one could call a star on this team and not get caught out on any given night. His bad games are rare and his outstanding ones are picking up in frequency again.

Defenceman 2: Mathieu Schneider
5 domes. Schneider's good and all, but this is another case of weak competition. When was the last time someone was upset about the third best D being left out of the dome? If you can answer that, then you're a keener study of the first 30 games than me...

Honourable mention (defenceman): Roman Hamrlik. He had a good first 5 of the 10, with 3 domes. He's been a bit cold ever since. I feel if he could take charge the way he did back in the early part of the season, the Canadiens defensive woes might start to wane.

Goaltender: Jaroslav Halak
5 domes and two game pucks. Jaro by a nose here. Both goalies had 4 domes and 2 game pucks going into the Rangers game. An uninspiring shootout, it seems, made the difference to Tobalev, and so it must for me. While Jaro has been great over this ten, so has Price at times. Both goalies have needed to be.

Honourable mention (goalie): Carey Price. He is blowing hot and cold at the moment, which is a welcome change from frigid and cold. 4 domes and 2 game pucks attest to his NHL capabilities. But those two games in which the bench goalie is preferred have cost him. If momentum is to be a guide and Gainey's goalie selection technique to be estimated, then Price should be back in this list by the next round.

Three star selectors

14 of a possible 30 star selections. There's progress, even if it does include a nod for 1000 games, not a performance in game amongst them. By consequence, it also makes this list a little bit more interesting. Even so, the Molson Cup is a push this season and whoever is honoured with the annual award should know it's because of a singular refusal taken by any and every star player to take charge (and the reluctance of the selectors – until now – to pick Markov...).

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

Forward 1: Saku Koivu (1, 0, 1)
Forward 2: Tomas Plekanec (0, 1, 0)
Forward 3: Alexei Kovalev(0, 1, 0)

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

Goaltender: Jaroslav Halak (2, 0, 0)

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