What did your Montreal Canadiens do to offend the Gods of Hockey?
Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges: Gone for the season with torn ligaments in their right knees.
Now Michael Cammalleri and Max Pacioretty.
If Cammalleri scores just before turning toward the right-wing boards, Mike Weber wouldn’t have hit him during his goal celebration.
But Cammalleri’s shot didn’t go in. And a not-overly-vicious crosscheck from behind by Weber sent Cammalleri into the boards and out of the lineup.
Max-Pac did what Mathieu Darche does and what we wish more large Canadiens forwards did. He stood on the lip of the crease and obscured the vision of Ryan Miller as James Wisniewski cranked one up from the blueline.
The result … OK, who volunteers to be the next Tomas Holmstrom?
If the Canadiens are cursed – and there have been times we’ve all wondered whether the Bell Centre was built on an aboriginal burial ground – they will find a way to deal with it.
This year’s edition is that kind of team. Getting a point out of Buffalo with three lines, while playing their second game in 24 hours, was nothing short of heroic. And it typified the spirit we’ve seen this season.
Markov goes down, Roman Hamrlik steps up.
Gorges finally succumbs to his wonky knee, P.K. Subban becomes Hal Gill’s D partner and plays 25-plus minutes a game.
So who’s on deck to replace Cammalleri and Pouliot?
My great and good friend Arpon Basu makes a case for Lars Eller. The kid may be ready for prime-time – you had to love his grit in that late game battle with Tyler Myers – and he could take Cammalleri’s spot on the power-play, while continuing to play 5-on-5 with Tomas Plekanec.
The help has to come from two players who entered the season as question marks.
If the Canadiens are going to pick up points through the games preceding the All-Star break, Andrei Kostitsyn and Benoit Pouliot have to display the talent that made them high draft choices.
Can they do it?
Absolutely. We’ve seen flashes of their ability, and the team needs consistent effort from them RIGHT NOW!
But those two enigmatic talents have broken our hearts before.
And if AK46 and Benny move up to the Top Six, the third and fourth lines get pretty thin.
David Desharnais centred Travis Moen and Tom Pyatt after the injuries forced Jacques Martin to improvise last night. They were the only line who consistently cycled, dogged the puck and spent time in the Buffalo zone, but DD won’t be boosting his Assist totals with those guys.
Then you’ve got Jeff Halpern, assuming he’s recovered, Mathieu Darche and …
Ryan White? Dustin Boyd? Aaron Palushaj?
Or does Pierre Gauthier try to deal, from an uncomfortable position of extreme need.
The Canadiens play in Ottawa Friday night, then scoot home to welcome Saku Koivu and Maxim Lapierre back to the Bell Centre. Saturday will match the NHL’s busiest goaltenders: Carey Price and Jonas Hiller, each of whom has 23 wins.
Price was spectacular – again – in Buffalo. The Sabres spent the third period in the Canadiens’ zone, and Price shut the door to send the game into overtime.
The Canadiens might have had a crack at stealing two points if Scott Gomez hadn’t blown his cool with less than a minute remaining in regulation.
“I put us in a bad situation,” Gomez said, “and I’ll take the blame for this loss.”
No time for the blame game. Gomez and his teammates have to regroup and figure out ways to soldier on, minus four starters.
That’s hockey. And at least the injuries didn’t happen in the last week of March.
• • •
Two from the Commentariat, first from CharlieHodgeFan:
Pacioretty is a recent call up – a brilliant
one, but a guy who came in late. What he brings is a bonus, and having
him out hurts a lot, but can be dealt with. Cammilleri is a bigger hit,
even if he was slumping. If he’s gone for a few weeks, the team is in
trouble. White has maybe two goals in the AHL, and it’s goals this team
needs, not just guys to skate hard.
Pouliot. Kostityn, Eller,
Gionta – any of those guys could get hot. I don’t see a big trade, so as
usual, we sit here and watch what happens. The Habs are a good team
this year, and the depth is being built – Pacioretty, Eller, Pouliot and
increasingly Desharnais are interesting young forwards. The team is not
far from being at a solid level of depth for an NHL organization, but
these injuries at this time stretch it out pretty far.
That was a nasty evening of hockey against a shabby team and with inconsistent officiating. Ugly hockey with ugly results.
And from Jason M:
Sometimes I wonder why I bother to watch hockey it really seems that 1 game
out of every 3 are decided by flagrantly bias and incompetent officiating. Is
it I hope I get to watch the occasional barn burner that makes me happy? Or is
it misery that I so seek on game nights? The Habs aren’t exactly the most
disciplined team out there but I’d really like it if for a single game, the
Refs would do their job efficiently and properly and I can watch a game the way
it was meant to be watched. Gomez deserved a penalty but I think closing your
eyes on a handful of calls before cherry picking one is not what they have been
hired to do, at least, as far as I know. If a player has to “sell it” to get a
call, then the Refs aren’t doing their jobs.
I don’t know if you’ll touch up on this but early in the game Lindy Ruff had
a hissy fit and then the Sabres have a field day with many non-calls that put
the health of our hockey players at risk out there. Where have we seen this before? Did
the Habs even get ONE POWERPLAY after that hissy fit? Unfortunately, I believe
At what point will management or the media bring this issue to the
limelight? I know it is frowned upon to cry foul towards the Refs but seriously
enough is enough and it’s time for a change about this. Can we kindly ask
people to be consistent in their work? How hard is it to call a penalty on a guy
who used his stick and a battering ram on Eller a handful of times? The holding
of a stick on Moen? Or hit players repeatedly from behind causing injuries
(Cammy and Woz) ? What about the non-calls on the headshots (Halpern)?
Do Refs even get any repercussions from being terrible at their jobs beyond
not officiating in the playoffs?
The current NHL system for officials is terribly broken and at times makes
me wonder if I should simply PVR the games, check later to see the feedback
from people off internet media and decide or not if I should go through the
motions to watch season games.It’s hard to be passionate on the product on the ice with all of these shenanigans going on.
One thing is for sure, I’m a very unsatisfied NHL fan right now. Though
kudos the Habs in sticking in the game, 3-4 players short while being on the
short end of the stick.