The Upper Canadien
If the Habs have faced a must win all year, this is it. Backs against the wall? They’re through them.
Meanwhile, turmoil in Montreal. I said the seats were becoming emptier, and people called me crazy. Well, now many articles and pundits are commenting on hundreds, if not thousands, of empty seats at the Bell Centre each game. Scalpers can’t sell their tickets. Montrealers are slowly losing interest. Many, it seems, don’t really care.
But to the players, none of that matters. Just like language doesn’t matter. They simply want to win.
Peter Budaj between the pipes tonight, Carey Price tomorrow. Can Montreal close the (enormous) gap between them and Pittsburgh? Penguins-Montreal, faceoff in about 30 seconds. Enjoy.
This is a must win for Montreal. You’ve heard of “4 point games?” Well, this is a sixer. The Canadiens are chasing Washington, and the Habs’ chances are hanging by a thread. Beat Washington, and get 3 points out of the weekend, and the chase continues. Lose tonight and one of those games, and the odds plummet.
Carey Price starts in net. The Capitals attempt to extract their pound of flesh from Rene Bourque. Should be a great game.
Well, here’s something I didn’t expect to write on Sunday around 10 pm: the Montreal Canadiens defeated the New York Rangers. 4-1. And it wasn’t a fluke. They dominated the game from start to finish. Physical play, crisp passes, and solid defence.
Where did the regular Canadiens go?
Now, if you read this blog regularly, you’ll know that I’m looking at the season in 3-game pockets. They went 2-1 in the last one. They needed 2 of 3 against Boston, Ottawa and New York. They got 1.5. You know what? Against three of the NHL’s best teams of late, that’s actually pretty good.
To me, without question, this was the Canadiens most impressive win of the season. So what have we got here?
The Habs face the Sens tonight. I said they had to win 2 of 3 on Thursday, and they lost to Boston, so this is it. Win today, win tomorrow, or I really think the playoff chase is out of gas. We won’t know for sure until, in my opinion, the end of January, but this team is running on fumes, and a win tonight would help move it forward at least a little bit.
As for Mike Cammalleri, here are my final thoughts:
Initial thoughts? Terrible trade. Cammalleri was one of the few free agents in recent years to have a real desire to play in Montreal. He loved the pressure. He upped his game when it mattered. He also spoke his mind. Apparently, that got him traded.
I don’t believe Pierre Gauthier when he says these talks went on for a month. This happened quickly. It was a quick reaction. And it was a mistake.
Rene Bourque can’t skate anymore. He’s certainly not a sniper like Cammalleri. And he’s not an impact forward. This is a severe downgrade. Sure, Montreal saves some cap room - but they used that same cap room on Tomas Kaberle four weeks ago. This makes no sense.
Bob McKenzie @TSNBobMcKenzie 1m Reply Retweet Favorite · Open
Mike Cammalleri has been told he’s been traded. Doesn’t know where yet.
He is on his way back to the team hotel. No word yet on where.
UPDATE: 9:49 PM Pierre Gauthier will be making an announcement to the media at 10 PM.
UPDATE: 9:59 PM from the horse’s mouth: Cammalleri for Rene Bourque, Patrick Holland and a 2nd.
As viewers have noticed, Mike Cammalleri has played only eight minutes tonight, and has been MIA in the third and not on the bench. This from Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet:
Nick Kypreos @RealKyper 49s Reply Retweet Favorite · Open
Told #Canadiens Cammalleri has been pulled off ice for 3rd period by team. Also told he is not hurt. A trade could possibly be in the works
UPDATE: 9:20 PM
Bob McKenzie @TSNBobMcKenzie 1m Reply Retweet Favorite · Open
Reports are that MTL has pulled Cammalleri out of the game, put him in cab to team hotel to await further instructions. Trade is possibility.
UPDATE: 9:23 PM
BrianWilde @BrianWildeCTV 1m Reply Retweet Favorite · Open
You are not gonna believe this but it appears Cammalleri has been traded mid-game.
Did he say anything out of line? The team has been terrible. Much worse since the coaching change. Any chance of the playoffs is fading fast. Montreal this year has become the hockey equivalent of People Magazine. The tiniest comment from anyone of significance is blown way out of proportion.
Lighten up, people. Cammalleri wants to win just as much as anybody else, if not more. You’ve seen what the guy does in the playoffs, in big games, and through injuries. There is a serious management problem here and it has yet to be addressed.
A sidenote: Yannick Weber made much more controversial comments today about being better than the guys on the ice in recent games - and it goes virtually unreported. That says one of two things: a) the French media has it out for Mike Cammalleri, or b) Yannick Weber is insignificant in the grand scheme that is the Montreal Canadiens. I think it’s a lot more a than b, but that’s debatable.
Now, Boston, let’s see what ya got.
Brian Gionta: misses 11 games with a groin injury, back for less than two, torn bicep, gone for the season.
Andrei Markov: AWOL.
Scott Gomez: missed 29 games and counting…goals: 0.
And that, folks, is close to $20 million in cap space. Any more injuries, and Randy Cunneyworth will be lacing ‘em up as a player coach.
As heard on the Team 990 on the Canadiens post-game show. Not sure what their source for the rumour is, but they are currently looking into it.
I stress that this is only a rumour at this point, but Campoli has complained recently about his ice time, and as noted many times on Kukla’s Korner the Habs have far too many defencemen on the roster. More to come…
UPDATE: 11:21 PM Team 990 is now confirming Campoli has left the Bell Centre and has NOT been traded. It’s getting to be that time of year, folks. Lots of fun if you’re a hockey fan!
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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