Monday, October 10, 2011


If this season continues the way it's begun for the Canadiens, Jarred Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu had better get ready to make their NHL debuts as emergency replacements. It wasn't good to see camp open with no sign of Andrei Markov, but it's turned out to be a bit of a trend. Not only do we have no idea when Markov might possibly play again, we've also yet to see Ryan White or Lars Eller in game action. On top of that, injuries to Chris Campoli, Mike Cammalleri and Jaro Spacek have further depleted a lineup that hasn't been complete since day one. This is not the way the Habs had hoped to start a new season.

On the plus side, however, the players who remain are doing their best to push through the team's problems. Rookie defencemen Raphael Diaz and Alexei Emelin managed to keep their heads above water against an enthusiastic attack by some pretty big Winnipeg forwards. Yannick Weber seized the opportunity to get back on D with a rocket from the point on the power play, and an impressive physical battle with the much larger Nik Antropov. The defence was a bit scrambly and fumbled the puck fairly often, but managed to throw themselves in front of enough shots and chip the puck ungracefully out of trouble enough times to get the job done.

Up front, Tomas Plekanec was his usual all-around brilliant self, scoring a beauty of a goal on an individual effort, as well as doing all the little things he does every night on the still-perfect PK. Also, it's only been a couple of games, but his faceoff percentage sits at 57%. If he can keep that up, he will solve his game's biggest weakness and provide an answer to the question of who Jacques Martin could count on to win big faceoffs.

Travis Moen had a great game, but he's not going to be a long-term solution for the top line. Plekanec can work magic, but even David Copperfield has to actually have a rabbit in the hat to begin with. Erik Cole could be the rabbit, although so far he's been an unimpressive addition. It's not helping that he's getting fewer than 15 minutes of ice time, when he's used to playing more like 18-20 per game. If, as they say, Cammalleri is out for only two weeks, it would be the first bit of good luck the team has had since training camp opened.

That's if you don't count Carey Price's performance as a stroke of luck. The goaltender upon which everything depends was solid throughout the game, but especially cool and focused during the Jets' early push. He underlined, once again, that the Habs will go as far as he can take them. So, on Thanksgiving Day, Habs fans everywhere can give thanks for the continued good health of their goalie.

This hasn't been the start of the season the Canadiens were hoping to have. Then again, maybe if they get the injuries out of the way early, they'll get their healthy bodies back when it really matters later in the year. While it'll be great to see Tinordi and Beaulieu in Habs sweaters, it would be nice not to see them just because there's nobody left to play.


Raj said...

Good post, JT.

Let's hope the injury curse runs dry real soon. You'd think that the law of averages must catch up with us some time and that we'll be relatively healthy for a stretch.

I also don't understand how Cole is being used. DId he unwittingly get into JM's doghouse? If so, how? Or is this simply a matter of his getting used to teammates? I am puzzled how you can play you marquee free agent signing, who's' making over $4 mil a season, so little in game 1 and just a bit more in game 2. I'm not ready to dump on JM or PG, but some clarification as to why would be nice -- just so that I, for one, don't let speculation run wild.

Paul B. said...

As my all-time favorite singer (Dion DiMucci) sang in 1963, "Drip drop, the roof is leaking".

I might add: ONCE AGAIN

Anonymous said...

I think the team looked good because Winnipeg let them play their perimeter game. They sniped away and the goals were what we like to see, water bottles flying.

I am glad the team took a careful look at Betts before letting him on the ice. They were burnt on (IMHO) Campoli, on Laraque, and who knows how many others. We fans always treat pickups as overlooked gems. Reading some Philly posts on HF last nite opened my eyes to the distress that fanbase feels at having to carry Betts against the cap. Through it all no one seemed surprised that Betts was damaged, only surprised that the injury had been found in such an awkward manner.

And yeah, Pleks looked sharp on his goal. Way impressive hustle and hands.

Anonymous said...

It appears that Eller will dress on Thursday against Calgary allowing some movement in the lines. If Eller centres the 3rd line between Moen and AK, that would allow DD to move up onto the RW with Cole and Plekanec. I think that Spacek should be able to go on Thursday as it appears it may have just been bruised ribs that forced him out of the Jets game. If so, Weber can move back to the wing on the 4th line and the D pairings can go back to as they were for the start of the Jets Game. We need Markov back, but until that time PK and Gorges can fill the void on D. The PP needs more work though and I think that Weber at the point is part of the solution - not Pleks. Pleks isn't the threat with the shot, his forte is passing - he should take Cammi's spot on the half wall with good passes and a quick wrister every now and then. Don't give Buduj a start until the team settles in around 20 games into the season.