A few Habs-related thoughts on this dim, rainy game day:
-To the person or persons who robbed Pat Burns' clothes and watch at the man's funeral, to quote his namesake, St.Patrick: "You will be defeated in every engagement you take part in and in every assembly you attend you will be spat on and reviled." This is the lowest thing I've heard of since someone stole the poppy money at the local Tim Horton's on Remembrance Day.
-Carey Price says he's not superstitious, and proves it by doing things like throwing away his shutout pucks and shaving the mustache he's worn through the best part of his season to date. I don't buy it. All goalies are superstitious in some way. I'll bet he has some secret ritual involving giving game pucks back to the hockey gods or something. I wonder how long it'll take to see the mustache return if he loses a few in a row.
-The cone of silence around Andrei Markov is becoming stranger and stranger. Most normal teams will announce a key player is out for three months or the year or however long he'll be missing from the lineup. They recognize fans want to know when their favourite player will be back, or the extent of the impact on their favourite team. Not the Canadiens. Our team treats information like Scrooge treated shillings. There's a sense of arrogance around the Canadiens when it comes to dealing with fans that other teams don't emit. They know there are so many people willing to pony up big money for bad seats at the Bell Centre, there's no obligation for them to make fans feel included. They're a professional organization; a private business, and the customer is not always right because there are always ten other customers behind him with their wallets open if he doesn't like the service. Other teams say "we're all in this together, here's what's going on." The Canadiens say, "we're in this, you mind your own business."
-Speaking of the Markov situation, though, Gauthier has got to be planning for a long-term solution right now. If Markov will have season-ending surgery, as has been rumoured, the Canadiens will have a nice chunk of cap space they can use to address some needs. The question is, will Gauthier focus on obtaining a high-quality forward, or try to replace Markov on the blueline? The obvious solution on defence is Tomas Kaberle. He's not likely to be re-signed in Toronto after this year, and if he's going to agree to a trade anywhere, it'd probably be to a winning team like the Canadiens. It's a bonus that he's good friends with Tomas Plekanec. The problem is, Brian Burke would want a first-round pick and a prospect for Kaberle, and Gauthier would be loathe to give those assets to a division rival for what's essentially a long rental. In any case, there's not much out there that can be had for just money right now, and the Canadiens don't have a lot of tradeable assets to spend on a really good player who's not a rental, even though they can afford to pay him. A deadline seller might end up being the best source for help, so even with Markov's money essentially off the cap, there's probably not a lot of places for Gauthier to shop until February.
-Mike Cammalleri has been quietly slumping, but more concerning, he's been uncharacteristically cranky. Ever since he went after Nino Niedereitter in pre-season, he's been showing a tendency to lose his patience and take dumb penalties. You also don't see him joking with the media every day like he was last year. Something's up with him, and the coaching staff needs to get to the bottom of it. Not every winger on the team gets to play with Plekanec, so the ones that get stuck with Scott Gomez have to suck it up and help themselves more. (Still, you have to think the guys who see their names on the board next to Plekanec's get a little more excited about the game than the ones who get Gomez.)
-Still, for all the Gomez-haters, the Canadiens are NOT going to send Gomez to Hamilton. As much as he's been an anchor for his linemates (in the drag-you-to-the-bottom-of-the-ocean-sense, not the lending-stability sense), Pierre Gauthier isn't going to waive a player he believes will be a big help if he can only get going. And chances are, he doesn't think the way to get Gomez going is by kicking his pride in the nuts with a demotion. It also won't happen because the best centre in Hamilton, David Desharnais, doesn't have the confidence of management. Lars Eller, the obvious replacement in Montreal, is still learning a lot and Martin wants to manage his minutes carefully.
-That said, I still think it'd be a good idea to switch Eller and Gomez up for a game or two. Gomez isn't doing anything at all right now, and Eller is improving steadily. Given a couple of good linemates, he'll have a better chance to show what he can do, and boost his confidence. Skating with the grinders has helped improve the way the kid is working. Maybe the veteran can pick up a few pointers too.