Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Your Canadiens for December 21, 2011

Updates on the morning of the third game of the Randy Cunneyworth era, as the Habs prepare to take on the Chicago Blackhawks at 7:30 PM EST this evening.

- With the Canadiens playing in a back-to-back situation, travelling to Winnipeg for tomorrow night, Peter Budaj will get the start in goal tonight. The Habs have dropped 3 games in a row, so tonight is an important game and playing Budaj is a bit of a risky move on Cunneyworth's part. However, for some time now, Carey Price has been one of the few players who "brings it" on a nightly basis. Starting Budaj is a challenge to the skaters; Carey's not there, now it's your turn to go out there and win it.

- Otherwise, the team will make no line-up changes, meaning Alexei Emelin and Yannick Weber will again be healthy scratches. I'm no fan of sitting Emelin and really think it makes little sense given the make up of this club. He's being held back because he's an LD, but a spot needs to be made for him at some point. With the top pair of P.K. Subban and Josh Gorges struggling, now would seem as good a time as any to split them and shift Gorges back to the right side.

- Team Canada continues its preparation for the World Junior Championships (which begin on boxing day) with their second pre-tournament game tomorrow night. Canada will take on Switzerland at 9:00 PM EST, live on TSN2. In the team's first game Monday night, Michael Bournival and Brendan Gallagher made strong impressions with great games. The pair is on the "fourth line" with no consistent third linemate since there are only 11 healthy forwards with the group at the moment. They still got plenty of ice time as coach Don Hay rolled four units, and Gallagher rewarded him by tapping home a Bournival rebound for a goal late in the third period. Nathan Beaulieu, meanwhile, had an up-and-down game, generating a few chances offensively while on the point of the team's top powerplay unit but not producing.

- Team USA is also holding their pre-tournament camp, dropping their first exhibition match to Team Russia last night. Jarred Tinordi was a healthy scratch for the game as the club opted to evaluate other defenders instead. Most still consider Tinordi a lock for the squad, though the Americans still have to make their final cuts by Christmas.

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