Monday, November 28, 2011

Your Canadiens for November 28, 2011

- The Canadiens take off for Anaheim at 1:00 PM this afternoon to begin a 3 game road trip through California. Wednesday night's game against Saku Koivu and his struggling Ducks begins at 10:00 PM Eastern.

- Good news in the injury department this morning. Chris Campoli joined his teammates for practice today, albeit wearing a non-contact jersey. Still another step forward. Also, Ryan White was seen back on skates for the first time this season, skating on his own on a separate rink in Brossard. White is recovering from sports hernia surgery and is still weeks away. Andreas Engqvist and Jaroslav Spacek joined White for the skate. This means everyone was on the ice except for Scott Gomez, who, thus, should not be expected to join the team on the Cali trip.

But perhaps the best news? Andrei Markov practiced on a regular pairing today, skating with Alexei Emelin! It sounds like his return is near! Yannick Weber found himself outside the top 6, skating with extra Frederic St. Denis. Great news that Jacques Martin is finally appreciating Emelin's play, and the Markov - Emelin pairing has very high potential. However, Markov later skipped out on a drill involving taking contact in the corners, which raises some doubt about his return date.

More fuel to the Markov / Emelin fire: Here were the powerplay lines from practice this morning:

Cammalleri - Desharnais - Cole
Markov - Subban

Pacioretty - Plekanec - Kostitsyn
Weber - Diaz

Lots to digest there! Again, Markov practicing in a "healthy" position. Tomas Plekanec no longer on the point on the powerplay! Finally! With the shift, the Lars Eller on the powerplay experiment seems to be over, at least for now. And Brian Gionta has also seen his spot cut, after being a -9 with no points in the last 3 games. But perhaps more interesting is that Yannick Weber, who appeared to be on the 4th defensive duo (meaning out of the line-up), practiced in a regular powerplay position. It is likely, then, that the Canadiens will dress 7 d-men for Markov's return, either holding Markov out for just limited minutes and the man advantage, or playing Weber at forward.

- Before the team leaves, Max Pacioretty will have a hearing by telephone with NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan. Pacioretty will have to explain himself for the hit that broke Kris Letang's nose on Saturday.

Will he be suspended? It's a tough call. Yes, it is a shot to Letang's head, so for that alone, we could see Pacioretty should get 2-3 games. However, given some of Shanahan's other decisions this season, there could also be an argument that Letang was leaning into a shot with his head down, and by the time he leans in, it is too late for Pacioretty to change the trajectory of his hit. As such, Shanny may rule no intent, and let Max escape unscathed this time around. My call would be a 2-game suspension, though the fact that Letang was back a couple of minutes later could work in Pacioretty's favour in lessening the punishment. Hoping he gets a break, though, as Saturday night he awoke from a couple game slump with a strong effort which he could build on in the coming week.

- The Washington Capitals have fired coach Bruce Boudreau and replaced him with Dale Hunter. How does this relate to the Habs other than the fact that they haven't fired Jacques Martin yet? Well, Dale Hunter was head coach of the London Knights and a big influence on prospect Jarred Tinordi. Fortunately, Dale's brother Mark, who worked with him, will take over as coach, so it shouldn't be a drastic change.

- Speaking of coaching changes, in a move that is sure to draw the ire of Habs fans towards Pierre Gauthier, the Carolina Hurricanes today fired coach Paul Maurice and hired former Habs Captain and assistant coach Kirk Muller to replace him. Many saw Muller as an eventual replacement for Jacques Martin in Montreal, so this move is somewhat frustrating.

- Per phenomenal French rumour site Dans Les Coulisses (, when the Habs charter takes off for Anaheim this afternoon, general manager Pierre Gauthier will be on board. It's not at all uncommon for a GM to travel to road games with his team, but one must also consider that given the performances of the Habs and Ducks up till now, both clubs could stand to make a move. Gauthier, who previously worked for the Ducks, has transacted with general manager Bob Murray quite frequently, so another deal is not out of the question.

- Prospect winger Danny Kristo had a big weekend for the University of North Dakota. His club was off to a tough start to the season but posted big wins on Friday and Saturday, with Kristo totaling 3 goals and 2 assists, now giving him 17 points in 14 games.

Also in the NCAA, Steve Quailer had a 3 point night, now at 11 points in 11 games, while Mac Bennett picked up 3 assists in 2 games, now with 13 points in 16 contests, besting last year's season total of 12 points.

- Hockey Canada unveiled today a list of 41 players who will take part in a selection camp in preparation for this December/January's World Junior Championship. Included on this list are Canadiens prospects Brendan Gallagher, Michael Bournival, and Nathan Beaulieu. The two forwards should be near-locks to make the squad, while Beaulieu will face tough competition to lock down a job on defense.

No comments: