The Upper Canadien
by The Upper Canadien on 12/05/11 at 12:46 AM ET
The Upper Canadien is back at 100% and off the IR. The Habs, however, are not. As everyone now knows, Andrei Markov’s knee is close to ready, so GM Pierre Gauthier said yesterday - and that, logically, is why he’s having surgery in the next few days. Right. Oh, and he’ll be out for 3 weeks “or so.” The dreaded or so. My bet? Markov isn’t back until January, and that’s optimistic thinking.
Scott Gomez is still on the shelf, resting multiple muscle injuries and a goalless season. One in which he himself said he needed to step up and deliver. Gomez makes over 7 million dollars, Markov almost 6. That’s close to 20% of their salary cap room right there. Not to mention Jaro Spacek and Ryan White on the sidelines, and various players like Brian Gionta and Mike Cammalleri who look like they’re playing hurt. Bottom line, almost a quarter of their salary cap allocation has been virtually invisible since training camp. What does that tell us?
Well, it explains a few things.
It explains why the Canadiens sit 10th in the Eastern Conference, on the outside of the playoff picture, and with a 44% chance of making it, according to the historically very reliable sportsclubstats.com. Their power play sits 26th in the league at a paltry 12% - no doubt directly related to the absence of Markov and their apparent first-line centre. Two strong points? Their penalty kill sits third after a hot two weeks, and the play of Carey Price continues to keep the team in the hunt each and every game. And hey, Louis Leblanc got his first point yesterday as he helped set up a goal. That’s got to make you smile.
So, what to do now?
Well, as a Canadiens fan, I’m getting frustrated. I don’t expect miracles, and I’ve given up on a real blockbuster trade (the only truly solid blockbuster of the past decade was the acquisition of Alex Kovalev), but if Markov is in bad enough shape to need surgery again, where’s management? Where’s ownership? Surely the Habs could have made some sort of a move. They’ve let Marc Andre Bergeron and James Wisniewski walk in back-to-back years. Yannick Weber is not the answer. Bryan McCabe is a free agent, is he not an option? Yet, what sort of answers do we get from the powers that be?
Silence. That’s the policy. Comment on nothing. Andrei Markov’s agent was so fed up late last week he publicly lambasted Habs management for not offering more clarity on Markov’s situation, and went even further, saying he was sick and tired of doing pr for the team. Habs fans want answers, and they want results. So what’s to come? Well, we know the Canadiens sit on the outside of the playoff race. And the schedule doesn’t get any easier. This week alone, the Habs take on a tough Vancouver team, and the New Jersey Devils, who almost always prove to be vexing for Les Glorieux.
Bottom line: the Canadiens need a winning streak. Badly. At least four or five in a row. They were lucky to get 3 points out of their Western swing. While it could have been 4, or even 6 with any sort of appearance in Anaheim, the good news is the team hasn’t given up. They’re blocking shots left right and centre, they’re playing for their goalie, their best player, and despite commentary to the contrary, they’re playing for their coach. Jacques Martin isn’t going anywhere. If there is a solution here, it’s a player, or players, and that solution has to come from outside. But with Pierre Gauthier at the wheel, who knows if that solution is coming soon, if at all.
It’s a big week Montreal. And it’s early December. That’s not a good sign.
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About The Upper Canadien
The Upper Canadien is your one stop shop for all things Montreal Canadiens. Since the summer of 2010, I've been providing Habs related news, notes, and most importantly, opinions. As a blogger, I don't believe it's my job to report the news, it's my privilege to comment on it. You may disagree with what I suggest. In fact, you most likely will. But that's the great part about blogging: it spurs opinion, comment and engages all involved. I've really enjoyed all the debate and commentary from readers thus far and I encourage everyone to respond with ideas on lineups, trades, logos, sweaters, mascots, whatever. The Upper Canadien is a conversation for all hockey fanatics.
I've come to Kukla's Korner with four years of campus radio and three years of sportswriting from my time at Mount Allison University on Canada's East coast. Not only do I not have any professional journalistic training, after five years in the corporate world, I've spent much of the past two years completing an MBA. Business by day, hockey by night, I'm a Canadiens fan through and through. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I do writing.
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