Canadiens put Rene Bourque on waivers, recall Jarred Tinordi from Hamilton

After the emotional Guy Lapointe jersey-retirement ceremony, followed by a 4-1 win over the Minnesota Wild Saturday night at the Bell Centre, the Canadiens had the day off on Sunday.

But GM Marc Bergevin was still working, announcing Sunday afternoon that the club has recalled defenceman Jarred Tinordi from Hamilton of the AHL and returned forward Drayson Bowman to the Bulldogs. And in bigger news, Renaud Lavoie of TVA reported Sunday evening that the Habs have placed forward Rene Bourque on waivers and that if he’s not claimed by noon on Monday he will be sent to Hamilton. Arpon Basu of NHL.com reported that the Canadiens would save $925,000 on the salary cap if Bourque spent the rest of the season in Hamilton.

In 13 games this season, Bourque has no goals, two assists and is minus-9. He has this season and next remaining on a six-year, $20-million contract with a $3.33-million salary-cap hit.

Bowman was called up Saturday afternoon as insurance after one of the regular Habs forwards wasn’t feeling well in the morning. In 11 games with Hamilton this season, Bowman has two goals and four assists. Tinordi has two assists in nine game with the Canadiens this season and was pointless in two games with the Bulldogs.

 The Canadiens will practise at 11 a.m. Monday in Brossard as they prepare to face the Winnipeg Jets Tuesday night at the Bell Centre (7:30 p.m., SNE, RDS, TSN Radio 690). The Boston Bruins visit the Bell Centre on Thursday night, followed by the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday before the Canadiens travel to Detroit to face the Red Wings on Sunday.

Manny Malhotra, who has been winning 63.1 per cent of his faceoffs with the Canadiens this season, was the focus of Christopher Curtis’s Game Within the Game analysis on Saturday night:

CHRISTOPHER CURTIS
MONTREAL GAZETTE

The game begins when the referee drops a puck between two centres, who hack at it and bash into each other until one team wrestles it free.

Before the puck hits the ice, both teams are aligned at opposite sides of it, in near-perfect symmetry. Their bodies twitch as they ready themselves to cycle the puck should their centre win a clean draw or chase after it should he fail.

Except for basketball, lacrosse — and the short-lived Xtreme Football League — hockey is the only sport in which an official tosses equipment at the players, forcing them to fight over it like a scrap of raw meat. Even in the scrum, rugby’s savage equivalent to the faceoff, the referee rolls the ball toward one team instead of directly between the two.

Reflexes seem to play a big part of the faceoff, but so to does general scrappiness — the willingness to wrestle an opponent off the puck, dive onto the object or use a skate blade to kick it toward a teammate. Almost like rebounding at basketball, the rules of hockey are generally tossed aside during a faceoff. It’s a half-second greaser rumble and then the game starts.

Though Saturday’s game saw the Canadiens edge the Minnesota Wild 4-1 on the scoreboard and by a wide margin in the faceoff circle, one of the team’s finest moments came in defeat.

During a penalty kill at the end of the first period, Manny Malhotra found himself in the defensive zone opposite Mikael Grunland. Grunland actually wins the draw, but Malhotra drives his body into the Wild centre and dives onto the puck, buying enough time for a teammate to regain it and clear the zone.

It’s not the kind of play the etches itself into hockey lore, but it’s crafty move that may have prevented the team from going down 1-0.

Malhotra is among the league’s foremost faceoff specialists and, as any good centre will tell you, it’s not so much knowing how to win the draws as it’s knowing how not to lose them so badly.

“It’s huge,” forward Brandon Prust said of Malhotra’s contribution to the team. “Manny proves that, he gets put out a lot of the times for key faceoffs in the defensive zone. It can mean a lot, it means puck possession, if you can get that early jump it’s a great advantage.”

Faceoffs are such a small, seemingly negligible part of the game. After all, it’s what happens after the puck is dropped that determines who wins. The Canadiens succeeded Saturday because they moved the puck well, giving themselves enough space to get the scoring opportunities that have eluded them these past two weeks. Carey Price’s 30-save performance didn’t hurt either.

But faceoffs do matter.

Consider another seemingly pedestrian moment in the first period. After a rough start, the Canadiens earn a man advantage and a chance to awaken their slumping power play.

David Desharnais gave the puck up in a draw against Grunland, who sort of bumped the Montreal centreman off it.

The Wild cleared the zone and, by the time the Canadiens regained possession in the offensive zone, 40 seconds had melted off the clock. By now, the team had been chasing the play and after Andrei Markov failed to seize a choppy pass to the blue line, he was caught skating after the puck followed closely by a Wild forward. He would have lost the race and given up a breakaway, so Markov grabbed the player’s stick, dragged him to the ice and earned a two-minute minor penalty.

It is not Desharnais’s fault, but losing the faceoff started a chain reaction of events that led to the Canadiens blowing another power-play opportunity.

This sounds very “Butterfly Effect,” but there isn’t a more beneficial time to win a faceoff than during a man advantage. The team is already in formation, their opponents are all planted deep in their own zone, the Canadiens don’t have to cross the blue line and work to establish possession. Everything is there for the taking.

Focusing, once again, on the positives, Lars Eller scored the game winner after coming away with the puck in a defensive zone faceoff in the second period.

Once he took the puck from Mikko Koivu, the Canadiens created a rush that saw Eller, Prust and Jiri Sekac toy with the Wild defenders before Eller fired the disk high and past Darcy Kuemper’s glove.

“We put a lot of emphasis on wingers getting into the battle and helping the centre out,” Eller said. “It’s just competing for a loose puck. You don’t win too many clean so it’ll go right or left and then the wingers have to come and compete. They won a lot of those 50-50 battles and when that happens you’ll create offence.”

Eller, it seems, has a point. During more than a few draws, Sekac seemed to explode off the line and take the puck for himself. Though Eller won only half his faceoffs Saturday, his line always seemed a half-step ahead of Minnesota’s.

Referees seem to intentionally mess with centres before dropping the puck, pretending to throw it down and pausing long enough to create a fair bit of tension. It’s almost like that hand slapping game children play with each other, where the first kid to flinch loses.

“It’s timing and that comes with experience but, in general, the refs become fairly easy to read,” Eller said. “But really, you learn that through repetition.”

(Photo by John Kenney/The Gazette)

Blake, Bowman should be honoured next by Habs, by Jack Todd for Montreal Gazette

 

592 Comments

  1. Habanero78 says:

    Well you hate to see any seasoned player get sent down, but at the same time I’m surprised the management has the stones to do this. What caught my eye was at the Flames home game a few weeks ago. He was sooooo slow out there, and then during, I believe the first goal against he was sitting on the red line and went for a change when the puck was deep in the habs defensive end. It was straight out of bizarro land. Just felt like he didn’t care about anything.

    Wonder what’s going on in Bourques head?

  2. likehoy says:

    I wonder if Tinordi will try to fight in his next game to show that he’s able and willing to drop the gloves like Beaulieu did.

    If Beaulieu can skate, dish the puck, and fight.. Tinordi must be feeling the heat!

  3. likehoy says:

    so I guess we won’t be trading Eller to Edmonton

  4. B says:

    [bumped]

    –Go Habs Go!–

  5. Forum Dog says:

    RE: Ne Bourque – It’s got to have been a tough week for him. At 33 (l’age du Christ) he is right in his prime, but has been waived by one of the greatest franchises in all of sports. Even he must have seen it coming though. I mean, here is a smart, educated guy who stands 6’2″ 220lbs, with wheels and general athleticism to burn, and a great shot. Even now, at his reasonably young age, he has the potential to be a very useful player. Especially at $3.3M/year. All he lacks is fuel.

    If he actually tried to push through people on a regular basis, he would be a second line player on a lot of teams. He could have been in MTL if he had put his mind to it. They desperately needed a big scoring winger, and that is what he was supposed to be. And now he has been pushed out by a 22 year old with probably less natural ability, but far more instinct and drive.

    My hope is that this is a serious wakeup call, that he goes down and rips up the AHL (because he should), and he either get’s traded to a team that has a hole, or comes back with a vengeance if Sekac slips or someone on the wing goes down to injury. My understanding is that the new CBA eliminated re-entry waivers, so he wouldn’t have to clear if re-called.

  6. Slack says:

    HH: just now read your response, and I want to wrap this whole thing up by saying I appreciate the respone! I love to argue and so do you and you obviously know a thing or two about it! I think is safe to say we can agree to disagree about this one. Cheers, bud!

  7. Thomas Le Fan says:

    Why do we care so much about Bourque when he apparently doesn’t give a damn about us, as fans? I haven’t wished him anything but success but the success of the team must come first.
    Secondly, I think we are starting to see a new breed of player more concerned with avoiding injury and cashing a big pay cheque than earning that pay cheque and entertaining the paying public. I have a list of those to blame but I won’t get into it except to say we need more Gallaghers and less Bourques. Go Habs!

    Hockey isn’t everything … it’s the only thing … except for beer and guitars!

  8. Luke says:

    Come to the new thread and sign the Rene Bourque farewell card.

  9. HardHabits says:

    I clearly remember being one of the most vocal and earliest suggesters that Bourque was not playing well and deserved to be sent to the press box for a few games. I never imagined he would be waived but that he cleared waivers only reinforces my perception that he was phoning it in. Well our GM and 29 other teams agree. It seems beyond a reasonable doubt that I was onto something n’est-ce pas?

    This is not to say that I am correct about the other horse I have been beating lately. But just let that be a lesson for those of you who question my obvious advanced perceptions and insights.

    And I say that with all humility because there are many people who comment here who I hold in an even higher esteem and regard than I do myself. Haha!

  10. JUST ME says:

    Now i am not here to complain about it but as Bergevin said before the season we have taken a different route towards young talents. With that one can already see the effects because we let go many clutch players from last years playoffs and this will have effects.
    Again not complaining but let`s keep those facts in mind when time comes to compare with last years results.

  11. jols says:

    FYI, for those that want to watch Sherbak play, he will be playing for team Russia against team WHL tonight. Game starts at 8 bells on Sportsnet.


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