It's certainly been a long arduous journey from the operating room to the dressing room for Andrei Markov. The Russian defenceman has undergone two ligament reconstruction surgeries in his right knee since 2009 and played in a mere 20 games over the past two seasons. As it stands now, Markov has been in the lineup for all 45 of Montreal's games this year, ranks first on the team in average total ice time per game, is sporting a 52.4% zone start adjusted Corsi For percentage, and ranks fifth in points among NHL defencemen. Although he's no longer the best defencemen on the team, it's clear that he's a vital part of the top four. It is thus fitting that the Montreal chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association have nominated Markov for the Masterton Memorial Trophy. The award is supposed to recognize perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey and Markov definitely checks all those boxes. Now, whether or not he checks them to a degree greater than other players in the league is tough for me to gauge through my blue, blanc, et rouge coloured glasses. Regardless, it's been a joy to see the General or as Stephen described him in light of his powerplay prowess "the holy wrath of God, coming crashing down on your house to punish your various misdeeds" have success this year.
There's no way to segue elegantly from that beautiful line. I'll just leave you fine folks with an (almost) equally fine collection of links.
Habs News and Analysis
- There's not a lot of roster news to report today. Colby Armstrong was listed as probable for Saturday's game against the Capitals, so I'm assuming there's a chance that we'll see him in the lineup Tuesday in New Jersey. In the meantime, we can welcome Raphael Diaz back into the fold. The right-handed rearguard who missed 25 games with a concussion spent the bulk of his Saturday evening matched up against the Ovechkin-Backstrom-Johansson line, playing more against that trio than P.K. Subban did.
- Brandon Prust, the most sung unsung hero in the history of the universe, feels that the Habs are a "team full of unsung heroes" and that a lot of players could have won the Jacques Beauchamp-Molson Trophy. Prust was awarded the annual team prize for unsung heroism on April 20th.
General News and Analysis
- Patrick D over at Fear the Fin has posted scored-adjusted Fenwick standings and other statistical goodies through April 19th. Montreal's overall numbers have dropped slightly since last week, from 54.45%to 54.32%. However, the Habs still rank third overall in the league by score-adjusted Fenwick and have managed to increase their percentage since the trade deadline.
- Cam Charron over at NHL Numbers updates his weekly PDO statistics. Since last week, Montreal's team EV shooting percentage has dropped from 9.10% to 8.90% while their team EV save percentage has dropped from 92.3% to 91.7%. Based on this week's stats, average team save percentage is 91.7% while average team shooting percentage is 8.34%.
- Jack Edwards compared Matt Cooke to Bobby Kennedy's convicted assassin Sirhan Bishara Sirhan and then issued something along the lines of a non-apology apology for the remark. David Rogers over at Awful Announcing notes that Edwards' comments appear to be premeditated as "connecting a player to Sirhan isn't exactly a thought that would come off the top of the head."
- Cam Charron uses data from 2001-2012 to show the relationship between increasing/decreasing fighting at the team level and wins. He notes that teams that increased their fighting totals by 18 fights or more, equivalent to one standard deviation, on average won 0.60 more games per season. Conversely, teams that decreased their fighting numbers by one standard deviation won 2.5 more games a season. Although less fighting does not automatically increase your win totals, replacing designated hitters with skill does indeed help.
- With fantastic close possession numbers over the last ten games and Erik Karlsson's Achilles fully healed, Ottawa scares the crap out of me as we move into the postseason. Graeme Nichols notes that when Karlsson joined Jason Spezza on the IR back in February "things looked bleaker than Ilya Zubov's future with the Ottawa Senators organization." Now, Nichols feels like the Sens "could do some significant damage in the postseason if the chips [fall] the team's way"
EOTP News and Archive Material
- In honour of Matt's article on the Good Friday Massacre, here's a radio clip from 1982, posted in the CBC Digital Archives, profiling the Battle of Quebec. Reporter Christopher Thomas called the rivalry, steeped in Quebecois Nationalism, the hottest and toughest in the NHL.