Saturday, October 1, 2011

Preseason Game 8: 01/10/11 Montreal Canadiens vs. Tampa Bay Lightning in Quebec City

Finally, we've arrived at the end of the torture. Just one more game, and then we can get to some "meaningful" hockey. There is no doubt the preseason has been a bit of a disaster for the Canadiens, but a big win tonight could reverse the flow and allow the team to enter the regular season on a positive note with a bit of momentum.

The lines tasked with this challenge should be the same as we saw in practice yesterday:

Mike Cammalleri - Tomas Plekanec - Andrei Kostitsyn
Max Pacioretty - Scott Gomez - Brian Gionta
Mathieu Darche - David Desharnais - Erik Cole
Aaron Palushaj - Andreas Engqvist - Yannick Weber

Hal Gill - P.K. Subban
Josh Gorges - Chris Campoli
Jaroslav Spacek - Raphael Diaz

Carey Price

Jeff Woywitka, Alexei Yemelin, and Mike Blunden are the healthy scratches. As we've mentioned, it seems Raphael Diaz has for now won a starting role over Yemelin. Many Habs fans will (perhaps rightfully) not like the lack of truculence in the line-up, with no toughness on the fourth line and a relatively soft group of d-men.

The expected Tampa Bay Lightning line-up:

Brett Connolly - Steven Stamkos - Martin St. Louis
Ryan Malone - Vincent Lecavalier - Teddy Purcell
Mattias Ritola - Dominic Moore - Steve Downie
Dana Tyrell - Tom Pyatt - Adam Hall

Victor Hedman - Eric Brewer
Brett Clark - Matt Gilroy
Marc-Andre Bergeron - Pavel Kubina

Mathieu Garon

Other updates for today:

- Lars Eller practiced without a blue "no contact" jersey today, which should indicate he is nearing a return. For Habs fans who have been underwhelmed by the preseason performances of Andreas Engqvist (in other words, pretty much all Habs fans), this should come as a sign of relief, as it appears Eller could dress in the first game or two of the season.

- Travis Moen, Andrei Markov, and Ryan White are accompanying the team on the road, as they leave for their annual team building retreat (to Collingwood, Ontario) following tonight's game in Quebec City. Moen skated alone again this morning, while White remains sidelined and unable to take to the ice.
Jacques Martin was quoted as saying "it will be a long while before White can return." Officially, he is sidelined with a "lower body" injury.

- The Hamilton Bulldogs opened their preseason last night with a 4-1 win over the Binghamton Senators. The top line of Alexander Avtsin, Brock Trotter, and Brian Willsie led the charge, with Avtsin scoring 2 goals, Trotter having 3 assists, and Willsie 1 goal and 1 assist. Robert Mayer got the win for the 'Dogs in goal. This is a good start for Avtsin who faces a crucial year for his development in North America. He should see greatly increased ice time over last season where he was a healthy scratch, and will have to prove he can be more involved physically and more responsible without the puck. The team has a rematch against the Senators tonight.

- Goaltender Nicola Riopel, who was invited to a Canadiens development camp as a try-out several years ago, has been invited to try-out with the Bulldogs at camp. Since Peter Delmas is expected back shortly from his concussion, this will mean four goaltenders in the mix.

- In the junior ranks, it was a big night for a lot of Habs prospects. Despite just barely getting to the arena on time after being cut by the Canadiens in the morning, Michael Bournival scored 2 goals in a 7-2 Shawinigan win. Bournival now has 7 goals and 1 assist in just 3 games.

Jarred Tinordi, who we told you yesterday was named captain of the London Knights, finished a +1 with no points in an 8-2 London win. Tinordi made his mark with a huge hit and a very lopsided fight win. Here's a video of that:

Morgan Ellis, also captain of his Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, helped the team mount a third period comeback with 2 assists in a 4-3 win.

Olivier Archambault had a goal but finished -2 in Drummondville's 4-2 loss to Nathan Beaulieu's Saint John Sea Dogs. Beaulieu had no points but finished a +1.

Lastly, in the WHL, Darren Dietz had an assist and led all his Saskatoon Blades teammates with a +3 in a 4-2 win. Montreal's other WHL prospect, Brendan Gallagher, will join his Vancouver Giants teammates in time for tonight's game after being cut from Canadiens camp yesterday.

- IT IS OFFICIAL! Likely the funniest member of the Montreal Canadiens, Hal Gill, has joined Twitter. You can follow him at: @skillsy75

- The Toronto Maple Leafs' forward Clarke MacArthur was suspended 2 games by Brendan Shanahan today for a hit on Detroit Red Wings' forward Justin Abdelkader. As such, he will miss the season opener against the Habs on Thursday. Canadiens fans will remember the shoe was on the other foot a year ago, with Mike Cammalleri missing the season opener against the Leafs due to a preseason suspension resulting from an altercation with Nino Niederreiter of the New York Islanders.

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