Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Your Canadiens for October 11, 2011

As we anxiously await news on the health of Mike Cammalleri and Jaroslav Spacek which should come at this morning's practice, we can fill you in on some things you may have missed while enjoying your turkey yesterday.

UPDATE: - Jacques Martin briefed the media on the status of his injured players.

Mike Cammalleri is expected to miss 10-14 days of action with a deep cut near his left thigh. There is no muscle or ligament damage, fortunately.

Jaroslav Spacek continues to experience upper body pain following a hit on Sunday. He is expected to miss 2-3 weeks of action.

Lars Eller "hopes" to be ready for Thursday's home opener. As he himself put it, because of Habs' injury woes, "there's no one else left to play!"

UPDATE: - Lines from practice:
Max Pacioretty - Scott Gomez - Brian Gionta
Travis Moen - Tomas Plekanec - Erik Cole
Mathieu Darche - David Desharnais - Andrei Kostitsyn
Lars Eller - Andreas Engqvist - Aaron Palushaj

Hal Gill - P.K. Subban
Josh Gorges - Raphael Diaz
Alexei Emelin - Yannick Weber

At first glance they look passable, but under closer inspection, the team needs help as the roster is riddled with young, unproven players and oddly formed combinations. As was expected, neither Mike Cammalleri nor Jaroslav Spacek were at practice, and we'll get an update on their status when it's done. The Tomas Plekanec line is a mess with a slow-starting Erik Cole and a third/fourth line two-way forward in Travis Moen on his wings (the way the line finished the game on Sunday, which, I'll admit, worked well enough for that afternoon). For those that don't watch him enough, Sunday's breakaway goal was far from the first time that Moen has shown off some flashy hands. In fact, he rather regularly tries skill moves in the offensive zone and is quite effective, but his skating, passing, and shot leave him as more of a defensive player. It shouldn't be a surprise, though, that Jacques Martin has gone back to putting him into the top 6, a favourite move of his when injuries pop up. I'd have rather seen Aaron Palushaj, Mathieu Darche, or Andrei Kostitsyn there easily.

The fourth line has a major identity crisis, though at least it offers good size. If Palushaj plays well, swapping him for Moen in the line-up would make a whole lot of sense in clarifying the roles of each trio.

Lars Eller will return to the line-up but he's being started at wing on the fourth line (for now). Andreas Engqvist is being kept at center as he has done well in the face-off circle thus far.

That defense is awfully young and inexperienced, with Josh Gorges being forced to his off-side to play with Raphael Diaz. NHL rookies Diaz and Alexei Yemelin join sophomores Yannick Weber and P.K. Subban in what must be the defense with the least amount of NHL games played league-wide.

I'm sure Pierre Gauthier is busy working the phones as we speak.

- The Canadiens called forward Aaron Palushaj up from the Hamilton Bulldogs yesterday. Palushaj had a disappointing first half of training camp but turned it up a notch in the last few preseason games, collecting 4 points. He had 2 assists in Hamilton's season opener (their only game thus far).

- Brendan Gallagher exploded offensively on Thanksgiving Monday with 3 goals and 2 assists in a 5-1 Vancouver Giants win. Gallagher now has 7 goals and 2 assists in just 4 games. He and Michael Bournival are definite bright spots in the organization in this young season and both look like near-locks for Team Canada at the World Junior Championships.

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