AGD: Welcoming the Bulldogs

 

Time: 8:00pm MST

Location: Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre

Broadcast: abbotsfordheat.com, teamradio.ca

Abbotsford is back home after an extended road trip that featured not a lot of scoring, but still a lot of points just the same (7 of a possible 10). They now sit atop the Western Conference standings with 28 points.

Things have not gone as well for the Hamilton Bulldogs since the last time the two teams met. After defeating the Heat 2-1 in extra time at the end of October, the Bulldogs have lost 7 of their last 10 games and fallen to the bottom of the Western Conference. Also, Blake Geoffrion suffered severe head trauma a few weeks ago, causing him to exit the line-up indefinitely.

So it was a pretty rough November for Montreal’s AHL affiliate. Remember Patrick Holland, the former Flames 7th rounder who was dealt in the Rene Bourque trade and was one of the team’s scoring leaders to start the year? Well, he sits at five points in 16 games now. Heck, even top rated defensive prospect Nathan Beaulieu has managed just two points in 15 games. It’s been a total power outage for Hamilton in the early going this season.

The Lineup

Okay, I swear Greg Nemisz is going to be in the lineup this weekend. Maybe even tonight! Where he lands? That’s far less certain.

  • Baertschi – Walter – Horak
  • Olson – Street – Nemisz
  • Sylvester – Byron – Estoclet
  • Laing – Reinhart – Ruesegger
  • Brodie – Piskula
  • Breen – McCarthy
  • Callahan – Lamb
  • Brust

Primary guys like Brodie, Walter and Baertschi didn’t see much ice in the third period of the loss to the Aeros. It could be Ward was displeased with his top liners, or that they were all simply wiped out after three games in three days. If the line combinations change this evening, we can safely say it was the former rather than the latter.

The Opponent

As mentioned, no one can really score on the Bulldogs right now. The team is lead by pro rookie Brandon Gallagher with six goals and 10 points. No other player is even in double digits yet.

  • Blunden – Dumont – Gallagher
  • Pulashaj – Bournival – Holland
  • Leblanc – Boyce – Quailer
  • Hagel – Nattinen – Avtsin
  • Tinordi – Ellis
  • Beaulieu – St. Denis
  • Corbin – Nash
  • Mayer

Aside from Beaulieu, other high-end prospects include Louis Leblanc and Jared Tinordi. Leblanc has only appeared in four games this season, while the towering Tinordi is getting his feet wet on the back-end.

Another reason Hamilton has lost so often so far is their goaltending. Probable starter Robert Mayer has the best save percentage of any BD goalie so far…and he’s sitting at .893. Yuck. When you can’t score or keep pucks out of your net, "W’s" are hard to come by.

Sum It Up

Hamilton probably isn’t this bad, but for now it seems their luck is rotten at both ends of the ice. The Heat haven’t been tearing up the scoresheets recently, but their goaltending and PK continue to be top notch. The Bulldogs represent a good chance to keep that going (and maybe get the scoring going to) and to improve a league best record to boot.

  • Heat seem to be in complete control of this game. Shots are 17-8 in favour of Abby late in the 2nd, with the score being 4-0.

    In other news, Zach Stortini still gets payed to play hockey!?!?! I’m utterly dumbfounded.

  • you have to be careful with +/- because it’s HEAVILY skewed by team. For example, Brett Kulak has a horrible -14 for Vancouver… but he’s by far their best defenseman.

    Meanwhile, Wotherspoon is the #4 for a GREAT team, paired with Seth Jones, etc. I still like him as a prospect, and leading the league in +/- isn’t a bad thing. Just don’t expect Chris Pronger out of him.

  • Sobueno

    So how would we all rate Baertschi’s performance thus far? I know he’s near the top of the team in terms of points, and is still a young’un at that, but seems like he hasn’t been on the scoreboard nearly as much as I expected. What does everyone else think?

    • Deaner_

      17 pts in 19 games, leading the team in scoring (a veteran team at that), is about as good as you could hope for a first year pro. I’m not sure what everyone else thinks, but the whole 2 pts per game from junior is just not realistic.

      • SmellOfVictory

        It’s really not far off from his original translation, either. I think he was originally translating at an NHLE of about 47, which this season is around 44ish. Given the fact that he’s actually undergoing a transition to pro on a team that’s not offensively gifted, that’s not bad at all.

  • Deaner_

    @jeremywilhelm

    “Because plus/minus is a dumb way to rate anything ever.”

    Dumbest ever? I think that’s a little harsh. I’d say that probably nobody has ever gotten cut from a team for leading in +/-. It depends on the players you’re playing with, against, and a bit of luck. Just like goals, assists, Corsi, and every other number you can associate with a player. You have to be able to watch them play to know what the numbers mean. Has anyone seen him play? Can someone provide some context to the numbers? Is he not playing against elite opposition? I would have assumed if he’s with Jones he is. If there’s no explanation for how he can be playing poorly and still be on the ice for pretty much every goal they score, and almost never be on the ice when they give one up, I’d say he’s got a better chance than a whole lot of other guys to play in the NHL one day. If there is an NHL in the next 10 years or so 😉

    @Sobueno

    Sven – yeah I was hoping for more from him. He’s gotten a reasonable number of points, but he hasn’t seemed like the force I thought he might be.

    • Deaner_

      “Has anyone seen him play?”

      I like to say he’s a Jim Vandermeer clone, if that means anything to you.

      “Is he not playing against elite opposition? I would have assumed if he’s with Jones he is.”

      He is, but Jones is pretty much completely awesome, and Wotherspoon is in his last junior season. But he’s definitely having a good year, and he should earn a contract out of it.

      • Deaner_

        Not much. I remember Jim Vandermeer, but being a clone of him doesn’t really mean anything to me. Tells me 3rd pairing ceiling, I guess.

        But that’s what I’m getting at – he is having a good season. I just don’t get why everyone seems down on him because he’s got a good +/-.

        • Deaner_

          it’s more like in spite of it than because of it.

          also, I don’t know of anyone who’s actually down on Wotherspoon. More like cautiously optomistic, but he was never a high-upside pick. He’s having a good season, yes, albeit on a great team.

          I use the Vandermeer comparison mostly because Wotherspoon plays a gritty game, and is tough-as-nails, but not very big. Perhaps slightly above-average size, but he’s not a trolloc like Andrew Alberts or Keith Aulie (and he’s a much better skater than those 2 as well).