Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Your Canadiens for April 3, 2012

Getting caught up on a few stories around the Montreal Canadiens in the regular season's final week.


It was revealed yesterday that following a collision with David Desharnais in practice last week, Carey Price hasn't been feeling well, suffering from frequent headaches.  Price is expected to undergo testing today to determine if he may have suffered a concussion.  At this point, there is really no reason to jeopardize Price's long-term health.  Even if tests indicate no conclusive evidence of a concussion, if he isn't feeling well, it only makes sense to start Peter Budaj for the final three season games.

This likely also puts an end to any chances that Price would represent Canada in the upcoming World Championships.  With Erik Cole also having declared he would decline any invitation to play for Team USA in the tournament, there may not be many Habs taking part despite the team's elimination.  Get well soon, Carey!


In other news, Yannick Weber's knee injury will keep him out the remainder of the season.  Travis Moen and Tomas Kaberle, however, are both close to returning, and should play in at least 2 of the 3 remaining contests.  Moen can become an unrestricted free agent this summer, and while it is likely his injury that prevented the Habs from dealing him even more than a want to re-sign him, his toughness is a welcome presence on a third or fourth trio, so I'd expect the new General Manager to try to get him under contract prior to July 1st.

In Hamilton, Danny Masse and Olivier Fortier returned to the lineup from their respective injuries.  That means the only remaining injured 'Dogs are Brendon Nash, Hunter Bishop, and Andrew Conboy, the first two of which have missed the entire season.  Signed a week and a half ago, defenseman Greg Pateryn was eligible to join the Bulldogs for their remaining games, but was unable to reschedule his final college exams, meaning his pro debut will wait until next season.  Hamilton has not yet been mathematically eliminated from the post-season as of yet, but the team doesn't have a realistic shot of qualifying.  They would likely need to win all 6 of their remaining games AND get plenty of help in the form of the many teams above them losing a majority of their games.


Top prospect Brendan Gallagher's Vancouver Giants were eliminated in the first round of the WHL playoffs, 4 games to 2, with Gallagher recording 5 goals and 5 assists in the 6 games.  Since he is under contract, Gallagher could have joined the Bulldogs for the remainder of the season (and/or been called up to Montreal), but it was revealed yesterday that he would not do so.  It is unclear whether this was a Canadiens decision or if Gallagher needs the time to rest and heal up any minor bangs and bruises.  He did suffer a shoulder injury late in the regular season, and it is possible he returned with it at less than 100% (though his production would indicate otherwise).


Though Gallagher is out, the Habs have a number of other CHL prospects moving on with contending clubs.

In the WHL, Patrick Holland's top seeded Tri-City Americans will face the Spokane Chiefs in the second round.  Spokane eliminated Vancouver, so we'll hope that one Hab prospect can avenge another's elimination.

In the OHL, Jarred Tinordi's number one ranked London Knights open a series against the Saginaw Spirit on Friday.  Saginaw, having finished 5th in the West, was the only lower seed in the Ontario Hockey League to win its first round matchup.

In the QMJHL, Nathan Beaulieu's first place Saint John Sea Dogs will play surprising Baie-Comeau, who advanced despite finishing 13th (out of 17 teams) in the regular season.  Second place Shawinigan, the club captained by Michael Bournival and also featuring Morgan Ellis, will face-off against 8th place Chicoutimi.  Shawinigan is already qualified for the Memorial Cup as this year's hosts, but would love to add a Q championship on top of that.


Though he did not play a single game this season after undergoing shoulder surgery back on September 21st, prospect defenseman Brendon Nash was honoured yesterday as the Hamilton Bulldogs Man of the Year for his involvement in the local community and with charitable organizations.  The AHL's Yannick Dupre Memorial Award for league Man of the Year works much like the Masterton in the NHL, with each club submitting a finalist and one overall winner being selected from among them.  The fact that Nash hasn't played this season likely hurts his chances of winning that, but he still deserves a big round of congratulations for being so involved while rehabbing his injury.  Nash will be a restricted free agent this summer, and the Canadiens face a somewhat difficult decision in his case given the lost season of development.  Based on the promise he showed last year, a new one year contract seems a logical move for both parties.


With all NHL teams having just 2 or 3 games remaining, the Canadiens are looking good for at least a top 3 selection at this June's Entry Draft.  Here are the standings as of today, following an unfortunate Edmonton loss last night:

Edmonton is ranked 29th due to their fewer games remaining, but thanks to the rightmost regular and overtime wins column, is in fact ahead of Montreal in the standings.  This means if the Canadiens can go through their final three games without collecting another point, regardless of how other clubs fare, they will finish 29th overall, thus holding the 2nd overall pick prior to the draft lottery.

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