MONTREAL – When it comes to crunch time, teams need everyone doing their part in order to achieve success. Thanks to a solid mix of youth and experience, the Bulldogs are poised for a return to the postseason.
Up front, Mike Glumac has led the way to the net, potting 31 goals so far. The total, which is likely to grow before the season is done, is a new career high for the veteran, besting his previous high of 28 set back in 2003-04. The 28-year-old missed a month while recovering from a broken bone in his hand but has yet to show any ill effects of the injury; in 11 games since his return, Glumac has found the back of the net 10 times.
Ben Maxwell, one of nine rookie forwards, continues to enjoy a successful start to his professional career. After enduring an eight-game goalless drought, a stretch during which he picked up just four assists, Maxwell was busy on the scoresheet in the last two games. The North Vancouver native has five points in those outings, including his first hat trick with the Bulldogs. That’s increased his totals to 52 points, just three shy of the team and rookie scoring lead.
|Ben Maxwell |
While not counted on as a primary source of offense, Kyle Chipchura has still been contributing at both ends of the ice. The Hamilton captain has picked up six points in 12 games this month to put him seven points back of his rookie total in 2006-07, and has never going more than a pair of tilts without finding the scoresheet in March. When he’s not helping the attack, Chipchura has been exceptionally reliable in his own end. Yet to dip into the negative side of a plus/minus differential all season long, the 23-year-old is plus-25 this year, ranking him third in the AHL in that category.
The Bulldogs’ crease has been well covered this month, thanks to the tandem of veteran Marc Denis and rookie Cedrick Desjardins. Denis has found his game and confidence in Hamilton, posting a 25-16-0 record, including five shutouts, with a .921 save percentage and 2.48 goals-against average, ranking him 10th and 15th in the league, respectively.
Desjardins struggled earlier on in the season but has come around at just the right time. The Edmundston, New Brunswick native has earned the win in four of his six appearances in March, including a pair of back-to-back shutouts on March 6 and 7. Those whitewashes doubled his previous total and rank him among the top five ‘keepers in the league, along with Denis.
|Cedrick Desjardins |
Denis and Desjardins have proven to be one of the more formidable goaltending duos in the AHL this season. The pair has combined to post nine of the Bulldogs’ 11 blankings in 2008-09, the other two coming from Loic Lacasse during his call-up back in January. They’ve been especially steady this month, giving up more than three goals just twice and holding the opposition to two tallies or less in nine of their 13 contests so far.
Only seven games remain on Hamilton’s schedule and after a 6-1 romp over the San Antonio Rampage on Tuesday night, Ron Wilson’s charges have lowered their magic number to clinch a playoff spot down to six. A combination of wins or overtime losses by the Bulldogs and points lost by those chasing them that add up to six will secure the team’s season for the first time since their Calder Cup Championship run in 2007.Heather Engel is a writer for canadiens.com
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