Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Habs Mid-Season Video Report Card - Part 1 - The Forwards

by Kamal Panesar

In part one of this two part report, I explain my grades for the Montreal Canadiens' forward players. I have excluded any player that has been traded or who has played less than 20 games this season, as I do not feel that anything less than 20 games is a large enough sample size.

Below the video are brief summaries for each player along with the grade next to their name. Due to size constraints on Youtube, I split this video up into two
parts and here they are!

The Forwards - Part 1 of 2

Part 2 of 2


Brian Gionta - A-

The beginning of the season was difficult on Gionta while he was playing with Scott Gomez, who was firing blanks. Gionta has found his game again and has become a consistent contributor for the Canadiens again.

Brian is third in team scoring with 23 point and first for goals score with 14. His minus-1 rating is bothersome and the reason for the minus next to his "A" grade.

Mike Cammalleri – B

Cammalleri is capable of so much more and doesn’t, generally speak, look happy out on the ice. He hasn’t been right since being moved off of Tomas Plekanec's line near the beginning of the season season and has struggled to put the puck in the net on a regular basis.

That might sound contradictory when you consider that he is tied for second in goals scored with 12. However, Cammalleri is on pace to score 25 goals and while that is nothing to sneeze at, he is capable of scoring 35+ and should not be settling for 10 less goals per season.

A season of 25 goals for Cammy at this stage of his career would be a disappointment.

Cammalleri is currently second in team scoring with 28 points and tied for second in goals scored with 12G.

Tomas Plekanec – A+

Tomas has simply been the Habs best player all season long, and in all three zones.

Plekanec is first in points with 32 and ties for tied 2nd in goals scored with 12.

Andrei Kostitsyn – C

Andrei’s struggles with inconsistency kept him out of the B-grade rankings. On a positive side of things, he has found his defensive game leading the team with a plus-9 rating.

Andrei is currently on pace for a 47 point season (21G, 27A) and that does not seem like enough to get him a new contract, at least not in Montreal. The Habs need a 30-goal scorer in his slot and I would not be surprised if he is moved before the trade deadline.

Scott Gomez – C+

Gomez 12 of his 21 points over the last 10 games. Before that, however, he had only nine over his first 28 games and for that he gets a C+.

He has redeemed himself lately but his minus-7 plus/minus rating is glaring and needs to be fixed. Despite the turnaround, he is on pace for a career low 10 goals, 33 assists and 43 points.

That's just not good enough for the Habs second line center who is being paid top line dollars.

Benoit Pouliot – B-

Pouliot has done admirably with his average 11:39 of ice time, potting seven goals and 10 assists for 17 points, all with little to no time on the power play.

He is on pace for a career high 35 point season and is currently a plus player.
Like Kostitsyn, Pouliot struggles with bouts of inconsistency and periods where he looks like he is just not involved in the game. For a guy vying for a new contract and a raise, he needs to be more consistent.

If not, perhaps the Habs re-sign him for similar money to what he is making now ($1.35 million) be a third line guy and forget about any aspirations of being a top-6 player.

Jeff Halpern – B+

Halpern would have gotten an A if it wasn’t for his recent decline on the offensive side of things. Part of the problem here is that his line with Mathieu Darche and Pouliot, were on fire to start the year but Coach Martin split them up. He did so to give Eller the third line role but since then, neither the third line nor Halpern has been as effective.

Still, Halpern has been one of the Habs’ best penalty killer all season and leads all Montreal centers in faceoff percentage at 57.43%—he is the only regular center who is is the one over 50%.

Mathieu Darche – A+

What more could you ask of a player who has been a journeyman player his whole career?

Darche is one of the few players on the team who consistently goes to and stands in front of the opposing goaltender. So much so that he takes a regular shift on the power play where he can be found screening the goaltender.

With 12 points (6G,6A) in 34 games and a plus-5 rating, Darche is on pace for a career high 24 point season.

Travis Moen – C

Moen is a player that can be useful to a lot of teams but I feel that the Canadiens no longer need him. He is a tough player but not a “tough guy”. As such he never fights, he doesn’t throw a ton of body checks and he is a far cry from the player who helped the Ducks win the cup a few seasons ago.

That being said, Moen is an incredibly effective penalty killer but at even strength, while playing large stretches on the fourth line, he is a minus-5.

From a cap perspective, having a $1.5 million player on your fourth line doesn't really make much sense.

Moen's minus-5 rating is disturbing if you consider that while you don’t necessarily expect your fourth line players to score goals, you definitely don’t want them to cost you any either.

Time to bring up Ryan White?

Lars Eller – C

Averaging 10:26 of even strength ice time and nary a shift on the power play, I think it might be time to send Eller down to Hamilton.

Eller hasn’t necessarily played poorly, but with six points (2G,4A) and a minus-1 rating, he hasn’t exactly been lighting world on fire.

We’ve seen flashes of strong offensive play from Eller and you can see that he has a lot of skill, but it is becoming more and more apparent that he needs more seasoning.

With the recall of David Desharnais, I think the Canadiens are thinking the same thing and want to see if Desharnais is ready for prime time. If he is, I would not be surprised to see Eller back in Hamilton for the rest of the year.

Tom Pyatt – C

Not too good, not too bad Pyatt hasn't been the force in the bottom-6 that he was last year. With one goal, two assists for three points and a minus-5 rating, Pyatt isn’t making miracles happen this year. Not that he is really supposed to, but there has been nothing special about his play at even strength this season.

Like Moen, however, Pyatt is an exceptional penalty killer, perhaps even ranking ahead of Travis in that two-man race due to his speed, and he scores high marks as a result.

That aside, like his performance this season, I give Pyatt a passing grade but not much more.

So that's it for the forwards, let me know what you think and, as always, let me know how you'd rank em!


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