Saturday, October 15, 2011

Your Canadiens for October 15, 2011

The Canadiens are back at it this evening as they try to erase a poor home opener from their memory banks. Here are some updates to set the stage:

- It seems at last our prayers have been answered. At yesterday's practice, Tomas Plekanec was removed from the point on the top powerplay unit. The failed experiment has finally come to an end, as the two units were:

Max Pacioretty - Tomas Plekanec - David Desharnais
Yannick Weber - P.K. Subban

Erik Cole - Scott Gomez - Brian Gionta
Alexei Emelin - Raphael Diaz

Looking better, much better!

- The even strength lines were shaken up a bit as well as another of our hopes came to fruition. Travis Moen was taken off the Plekanec line, making for the following:

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

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

I like these units. Even if I'm not a fan of Moen in the top 6, he has played alright with Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta in the past, so it's the best of a bad situation while Mike Cammalleri is sidelined. Further, it creates a very interesting third line with Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais being reunited. The two formed a dynamic pair with the Hamilton Bulldogs and, with Andrei Kostitsyn on the right, should be able to provide some secondary scoring. Lars Eller is deserving of time on a scoring line after the spunk he showed in his season debut and hopefully he can find some chemistry with his new linemates in the short term.

- Carey Price is the confirmed starter for this evening.

- Colorado Avalanche lines for this evening:

Joakim Lindstrom - Matt Duchene - Milan Hejduk
David Jones - Paul Stastny - Chuck Kobasew
Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Daniel Winnik
Cody McLeod - Jay McClement - T.J. Galiardi

Shane O'Brien - Kyle Quincey
Erik Johnson - Jan Hejda
Ryan Wilson - Ryan O'Byrne

Semyon Varlamov
J.S. Giguere

UPDATE: - The Hamilton Bulldogs announced today the signing of defenseman T.J. Fast to a professional tryout agreement. The agreement will allow him to play with the Dogs but does not guarantee him a contract for the duration of the season. P.T.O. agreements have a maximum duration of 25 games but can be terminated at any point. The Bulldogs have 7 healthy d-men on their roster, so this signing provides some additional depth. Youngster Olivier Dame-Malka was a healthy scratch for last night's game, so it's possible they want to give him some playing time down in Wheeling (ECHL) and sit Fast as a spare blueliner instead.

- We've gotten clarification as to what is keeping gritty forward Ryan White out of the line-up (and why he wasn't even on hand for the team's home opener). The fourth liner underwent surgery for a sports hernia and thus will be out long-term. Keep track of all injured players in the Canadiens organization with our tracker on the sidebar of the page.

- Want to meet Max Pacioretty, David Desharnais, Yvan Cournoyer, Chris Nilan, and a whole host of ex-NHL'ers (for a fee)? Do you collect hockey cards and/or other memorabilia? Head on over to the L'International des Collectionneurs - a biannual weekend-long hockey-best collectibles show that takes place at the Centre Pierre Charbonneau by the Olympic Stadium. Find out more here:

- The Hamilton Bulldogs played their second game of the season last night, a 4-0 win over the St. John's IceCaps, to improve their record to 2-0-0. The Dogs' lines were the following:

Joonas Nattinen - Brock Trotter - Brian Willsie
Andrew Conboy - Philip DeSimone - Alexander Avtsin
Mike Blunden - Gabriel Dumont - Phillippe Lefebvre
Ian Schultz - Dany Masse - Alain Berger

Mark Mitera - Joe Callahan
Frederic St. Denis - Alex Henry
Zack Fitzgerald - Joe Stejskal

Philip DeSimone scored twice - the first two goals of his professional career in just his 2nd game - while Dany Masse and Joonas Nattinen (also with his first pro goal in his first game) rounded out the offense. Brock Trotter continued his strong play with 3 assists, giving him 2 goals and 7 points through 2 games. He certainly looks like he wants a call-up to Montreal soon! But even better may have been the 'Dogs netminder Nathan Lawson stopping all 40 shots for the shutout victory.

Not looking so good in goal for the IceCaps was former Hab David Aebischer. Aebi is making his return to North America after 3 seasons in the Swiss league. He previously played 39 games over parts of the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons with the Canadiens after being acquired in a trade for Jose Theodore.

Also on scoresheet for St. John's with a fight in the third period was former Canadiens tough guy Garth Murray. Murray has bounced around the NHL, AHL, and even ECHL since leaving the Habs during the 2007-08 season. He played 80 games over 3 campaigns in Montreal, collecting 7 goals and 2 assists.

- In the NCAA ranks, North Dakota defeated Maine 3-1, with Danny Kristo picking up an assist. Though held pointless, rookie Mark MacMillan saw time on the top line with Kristo. Kristo has now collected 4 assists in 3 games

Playing his first game of the season after serving a short team-imposed suspension, Steve Qualier had 1 assist in a 4-0 Northeastern win.

- Over in the WHL, Brendan Gallagher added a powerplay assist to his strong start to the season despite his team's 3-2 loss. He is now up to 7 goals and 10 points in just 5 games, with at least one point in each match.

- In the Ontario Hockey League, London Knights captain and Hab prospect Jarred Tinordi dropped the gloves against Johnny McGuire and then could not return, seemingly suffering a cut to the head. Tinordi was a +2 in the game's first period prior to leaving. After the game, a member of his coaching staff was quoted as saying he'd be re-evaluated today but that they don't want him changing his style or holding back because he is at his best when he's most physical.

- In the QMJHL, defenseman Nathan Beaulieu added one assist to his stat line in a 9-4 victory. The points had been slowing down recently for Beaulieu, but the defenseman had dropped the gloves in each of the two previous games. The assist now gives Beaulieu 7 points in 9 games.

- Also in the Q, there was a big trade yesterday that may impact Habs prospect Michael Bournival. Bournival, you will recall, was off to a very hot start but has been sidelined for the next 3-4 weeks due to an injury suffered in practice. His club, the Shawinigan Cataractes, traded for talented forward Kirill Kabanov, a prospect of the New York Islanders. Kabanov has been regularly criticized for his poor attitude, but his size and skill are undeniable. He scored 28 points in 37 regular season games for the Lewison MAINEiacs last year before turning it up with 20 more points in 15 playoff contests. His rights for this season belonged to the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada but he refused to report to the team after being cut by the New York Islanders and seemed destined to spend the season in Sweden before this last minute trade. He will help to replace Bournival's offense for the Cataractes in the short term, and once Michael is back, he could be a strong potential linemate.

- Lastly, a bad omen for those (LIKE ME) who collect Montreal Canadiens figurines and similar memorabilia. Figure producer McFarlane shutdown their official online fan forum for good yesterday, a sign that times may be tough at the company. A number of cost-cutting measures over the past months and years indicated a decline in profitability, but this is perhaps the move that struck collectors hardest, as the forums were a popular place to trade figures and swap "haul" stories. A replacement unofficial fan forum has been set up here:

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