The Hamilton Bulldogs were back in action this past week following a shootout loss to the defending Calder Cup champion Grand Rapids Griffins. In their first two games of the year the Bulldogs showed a lot of improvements from the previous season. However Friday nights game vs the Lake Erie Monsters was a massive step back and showed that several worrying trends from last year are carrying over to this years team.
The Bulldogs would enter Friday's game missing captain Martin St. Pierre, Christian Thomas (still nursing a preseason injury), and Michael Blunden, to make up for these losses head coach Sylvain Lefebvre decided to stick Louis Leblanc with the pugilistic Nicholas Tarnasky and Maxime Macenaeur. The results were a mix bag...Tarnasky would score two goals however Leblanc would not contribute points on either. Even more concerning is the fact that through the first two periods the Bulldogs would manage only 9 shots on goal which was the product of some undisciplined play and line pairings that were somewhat head scratching again.
Lake Erie would lead 2-0 going into the 3rd period with two goals from Brad Malone and in the final frame the Bulldogs would finally wake up and outshoot the Monsters 14-4. Tarnasky would put home a goal at 4:51 of the 3rd with assists going to Gabriel Dumont and Magnus Nygren, less than four minutes later Tarnasky would tip home a Nygren point shot on the powerplay to tie the game at 2. Why Tarnasky is on the powerplay however completely baffles me when Leblanc is sitting on the bench. The teams would settle nothing in overtime and they would head to a shootout where Lefebvre put his incompetence on full display.
Dustin Tokarski would struggle against the Lake Erie shooters and would allow 3 goals on 4 shooters, however in a move that spawned this article Sylvain Lefebvre would send out Gabriel Dumont, Tarnasky, and Macenaeur in the shootout...predictably the move was a bad one and the Bulldogs would drop a point. There were a few bright spots for Hamilton despite the loss including the solid play of Dustin Tokarski who stopped 24 shots and posted a 0.923 save percentage. Dumont and Nygren collected two assists each which is good to see, especially for Nygren who appears to be adjusting to North American hockey rinks quickly.
Earlier today the Bulldogs took on the perennial power house Toronto Marlies from Ricoh Arena in Toronto. To sum up the game nicely it was a mess for Hamilton, between a lackluster powerplay(0 for 6 on the day) and a severe lack of discipline(8 powerplays for Toronto) Hamilton was never really a factor until late in the game. Michael Blunden would return to the line up following a small injury and would notch a 3rd period to bring the Bulldogs within one goal but they would be unable to tie the game.
The Marlies would open the coring on a powerplay 8:29 into the opening frame on defensemen T.J. Brennan's 8th goal of the year, Carter Ashton would score on a second period powerplay beating goalie Robert Mayer five hole. Blunden would rip a wrist shot past Toronto goalie Drew MacIntyre and Sven Andrighetto would nearly tie the game soon after in the third period but MacIntyre would shut the door with a flashy glove save to deny the rookie.
Once again the goaltending was solid for Hamilton with Mayer making 26 saves on 28 shots but there are a lot of worrying signs about this team right now. Louis Leblanc was held off the powerplay in favor of Tarnasky and Akim Aliu which is mind blowing stupid. For a player the Habs brass wanted to make a statement they aren't really giving him the chance. Another major red flag is the lack of discipline by the team as they took 8 penalties against the Marlies and prevented themselves from garnering any real momentum. Hopefully these issues will be rectified soon or the Bulldogs will once again struggle to string wins together
The Bulldogs will be back in action on Tuesday October 22nd against the Chicago Blackhawks AHL team the Rockford IceHogs.
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- No discipline from the NHL on Eric Nystrom's head shot on Daniel Briere
- Canadiens vs Predators - Game Recap - Head shots, rule bending, and poor performance ends the Habs' winning streak
- Does Sylvain Lefebvre know what he's doing?