With a win and a loss in a weekend two game series against their provincial rivals in Toronto, the Hamilton Bulldogs have gone to a 2-1 record in 3 games.
In both games the Marlies were the significantly stronger squad at controlling the flow of the game, however good puck luck and goaltending in the first match lead the Bulldogs to a 4-1 victory while bad puck luck caused them to get trounced 5-0 in the second.
Mayer started in goal for both games with regular starter Desjardins still nursing a minor injury. His stellar 39 save start on Friday was very impressive, while he was pulled early on Saturday after goals against for the first two scoring chances against him. Peter Delmas was decent in relief afterward.
The baby Habs are the same as last years big Habs so far with special teams, only 1 for 17 with the man advantage but a pretty good penalty kill that has gone 14 for 16.
In real (No EN or SO goals), Hamilton is -1 on special teams and -2 on even strength over 3 games.
- St. Denis continues to be the steady leader of the Hamilton blueline corps, and one of the better players in the Bulldog’s losing efforts at controlling the play on even strength.
- Both Tinordi and Beaulieu showed both why they were 1st round picks and why they are a ways from the NHL this weekend. Tinordi was a defensive force in game one, a rock that Mayer operated behind. He was far more human in the second match, seeming not quite up for the speed of the pro-level game. Beaulieu’s magnificent skill set was well in evidence in both matches, his terrific skating allowing him to be continually dangerous at joining the rush and pinching in. The problem is that he clearly has not adjusted to the far stronger level of competition over the junior leagues and that opposing forwards are far more able to make him pay for taking so much risks. This is obviously something he’ll need to adjust to this season to be effective. He was solid on the powerplay for Hamilton especially in the second game where Hamilton dominated with the man advantage but were unable to convert.
- Pateryn has not been as impressive as he was right out of the gate.
- Overall the defense has shown how only one of the their number was playing pro level hockey last season, with 4 rookies in the lineup and Nash having missed an entire season due to injury. A certain degree of defensive ineptitude was to be expected to start, even if the group is reasonably talented.
-Louis Leblanc had 2 goals on 5 shots Friday in his best game despite playing on the checking line with Boyce and Blunden. He`s been one of the AHL`s most proflific shooters so far, with 12 shots in 3 games (4 per game average), making his 2 goals well earned. He may be Hamilton`s best overall forward this year but is unlikely to be a leading scorer if he remains off the lead powerplay unit and must really on ES play. Leblanc left Saturday with a knee injury, its unclear if he will miss any games because of it.
-Aaron Palushaj has become Hamilton`s leading scorer with 3 points in 3 games and is currently tied with Brayden Schenn and Matt Gilroy for the lead in league shots per game with 5.00 (15 in 3). Palushaj is the leader of the Bulldog`s best scoring line with Bournival and Holland. If the Bulldog`s have a player they run the offence through its currently Palushaj.
-Patrick Holland has shown more skill than I think many were expecting off him, probably the second best forward playmaker on the team after Palushaj and has been on the top Power Play unit (albeit one that is 1-17 to start the season). Linemate Bournival has done well also as a two-way centerman, albeit one without particular offensive flair.
- Second scoring line of Quailer-Geoffrion-Gallagher has shown promise, Geoffrion is playing well and both rookies are showing some talent even if they aren`t dominating the score sheet, each of them with a single point in three games. Bulldog`s are going to need more scoring and less promise to win games though.
- If the purpose of Hagel and Sortini as 4th liners is to protect the rest of the lineup, they haven`t been particularly effective. A number of rookies have had to fight so far against more established opponents and Hagel has lost the two fights he`s taken.
There should be particular notes made about how this year`s Bulldogs are very young and prospect based. They are the second youngest team in the AHL and have the 4th lowest payroll. All key positions except starting goaltender are filled with prospect players unlike a team like the Marlies which are lead by a number of established AHL stars. Hamilton can very well have a solid crop of players this year and be largely outmatched by an AHL league where many teams have legitimate NHL players or star AHL veterans to lean on while the Bulldog`s make due with a crop of 9 professional league rookies.
Through 3 games Hamilton has outshot the opposition 32.3 to 28 per game.
Scoring Stats by line:
Palushaj-Bournival-Holland: 3 goals, 3 assists, 24 shots on goal
Quailer-Geoffrion-Gallagher: 1 goal, 2 assists, 23 shots on goal
Blunden-Boyce-Leblanc: 2 goals, 3 assists, 20 shots on goal
Sortini-Dumont-Hagel: 1 goal, 3 assists, 8 shots on goal
Forwards: 7 goals in 75 shots, 9.33%
Beaulieu-St. Denis: 0 goals, 0 assists, 9 shots on goal
Tinordi-Nash: 0 goals, 2 assists, 3 shots on goal
Corbin-Pateryn: 0 goals, 0 assists, 10 shots on goal
Defense: 0 goals in 22 shots, 0.00%
Total: 7 goals in 97 shots, 7.22%, opposing goaltenders are .928 Save%