Monday, November 14, 2011

Your Canadiens for November 14, 2011

Here's your state of the organization update on the eve of a big divisional contest against the Buffalo Sabres.

- Expected / Probable Lines for tonight:


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

Josh Gorges - P.K. Subban
Jaroslav Spacek - Yannick Weber
Alexei Emelin - Raphael Diaz

Carey Price


Thomas Vanek - Luke Adam - Jason Pominville
Ville Leino - Derek Roy - Drew Stafford
Nathan Gerbe - Paul Gaustad - Brad Boyes
Cody McCormick - Matt Ellis - Patrick Kaleta

Marc-Andre Gragnani - Christian Ehrhoff
Mike - Andrej Sekera
Jordan Leopold - Robyn Regehr

Jhonas Enroth

- Hal Gill is sick, missed the morning skate, and will not play for Montreal tonight.

- I shudder looking at that inexperienced bottom pairing, but at least Gill's absence lets Alexei Emelin play on his natural left side.

- Mike Cammalleri did participate in the morning skate, but will not play tonight. It seems his knee or leg is still bothering him.

- To replace Cammalleri, the Canadiens announced that Andreas Engqvist has been called up from Hamilton this afternoon.

-Andrei Kostitsyn was not at the team's morning skate today, but another injured player was back. And that player? Andrei Markov! Of course, he was wearing a non-contact jersey, but it's still a big step to see him re-join his teammates for a skate. In theory he should re-join them for practice before long, and if that's the case, he could be back in the line-up before the end of the month.

- For the Sabres, Ryan Miller is out tonight after suffering a concussion on the much-talked about Milan Lucic hit Saturday night. The league announced today that Lucic would not be suspended for the hit, so expect an angry Sabres group this evening.

- Also sitting for Buffalo tonight is towering defenseman Tyler Myers. Coach Lindy Ruff has been unhappy with the play of his blueliner (signed to a huge deal this summer, as you'll recall) and is trying to send a message with this move (not unlike Jacques Martin did with P.K. Subban last season).

- Amongst prospects, the weekend was a big one for a few members of the Canadiens organization, so here's a breakdown:

Nathan Beaulieu, after a somewhat disappointing Subway Super Series (despite a beautiful shootout goal), has a goal and 3 assists in his last 2 games. That helps to get him back on track from a disappointing start statistically, giving him 17 points and a +14 rating in 20 games. Beaulieu's lack of production overall is not a huge area of concern, but this combined with his sometimes shaky play in his own end mean he is farther away from the NHL than some might think. Don't get me wrong; great prospect. But not ready yet.

Brendan Gallagher, after being held off the scoresheet for a rare time on Wednesday, had a good weekend with back-to-back goal and assist, 2 point games. Gallagher's stats are definitely eye-catching with 18 goals and 31 points in just 18 games. His 18 goals rank him 5th in the WHL, while everyone ahead of him has played either 3 or 4 more games than he has. He also ranks 7th overall in points and is 6 ahead of his closest teammate. Gallagher will be part of the Team WHL that takes on Russia as the Subway Super Series continues on Wednesday night.

Another WHL prospect who is hot is defenseman Darren Dietz. Though he was left off the Super Series roster, Dietz is tied for the Saskatoon lead in points amongst d-men with the undersized Connor Cox and first round pick Duncan Siemens with 14 through 22 games. Dietz, a big and tough blueliner, is also tied with Cox to lead the team as a +19 (tied for third-best league-wide). A 5th round draft pick this past June, Dietz looks like an early candidate as a late-round steal.

Lastly, the Hamilton Bulldogs snapped out of a funk yesterday in downing the Binghamton Senators 5 to 2. Alexander Avtsin led the way with his best game as a Bulldog, contributing 3 assists en route to being named the first star. Avtsin also scored a goal earlier this week, so Habs fans can cross the fingers that maybe... just maybe... the ultra talented Russian winger has turned a corner in his development. After a strong first game, Louis Leblanc had fallen off the map a bit in settling into AHL-level play, but he scored his 2nd and 3rd goals of the season yesterday, the last of which was a nice breakaway deke. Also scoring for Hamilton were Brian Willsie, Frederic St. Denis, and Andreas Engqvist. Robert Mayer got the win in goal.

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