Habs Make Final Cuts; Price to Miss Opener?
The Montreal Canadiens have announced the final cuts of training camp, finalizing their roster just before the team took off on a plane to Toronto for tomorrow's season opener against the Leafs.
Five players have been assigned to Hamilton, rounding out both the Bulldogs' and Canadiens' line-ups heading into the start of the season. And while at least one will disappoint Habs fans and all five will certainly be disappointed with their demotion, the cuts will give Habs fans an idea of which players could be among the first call-ups, in each position.
- Curtis Sanford, who was placed on waivers yesterday, will be the starting goaltender in Hamilton, but with news that Carey Price has succumbed to the flu and might miss tomorrow's game (read below), he could find himself back with the Canadiens sooner rather than later.
- Alex Henry was also placed on waivers by the Canadiens yesterday. The defenseman has since cleared, and will join the Bulldogs. Henry impressed at camp with his experience and calming presence, but needless to say, there's a reason the 31-year-old has only played 2 of his 177 NHL games since 2006. Still, Henry could very well find himself with the Canadiens if they find themselves in any further injury doodoo this season.
- Yannick Weber will be joining him on the Bulldogs blueline. Weber also made things somewhat difficult for Habs' management, registering 2 assits, 8 shots, and a +1 differential in four pre-season appearance. The 22-year-old Swiss born player did have thing working against him, however, such as his lack of experience and his lack of size. If the Canadiens' powerplay flounders early and if there are any more injuries, expect Weber to be called up.
- Center Ben Maxwell was also sent down to the Bulldogs. The 22-year-old Vancouver native had a good training camp, scoring once and adding an assist in 4 pre-season games, with 9 shots. Maxwell will have a lot of things working against him in terms of a call-up this season. He is left handed and a center (the Canadiens have at least 5 or 6 capable centers on the team), he isn't very big, and in the 20 games he's played for the big club, he hasn't managed to put up a single point. With the Bulldogs getting deeper and deeper up front, Maxwell could soon fade into the unknown.
Yes, Ryan White gets his own divider.
Why? Because he should be on this team, and because he's worked his way out of Hamilton. But thanks to some off-season moves that have handicapped the team, both in terms of contract situations and in terms of salary, Ryan White is the sacrificial lamb for coach Jacques Martin and general manager Pierre Gauthier.
Ryan White was arguably the best player at the Habs' training camp, outside of Tomas Plekanec. The 22-year-old native of Brandon, Manitoba scored 2 goals and added an assist for 3 points in 5 appearances, put up 11 shots, was a +4, lead the team in fights and was consistently involved in the play when he was on the ice, whether it was physically or otherwise.
So why does he have to go down? Unfortunately, 20+ one way contracts, limited spots on the team, and the offense that one such as Lars Eller can bring have made him expendable, for now. The timing might be bleak, considering the "truculent" team the Canadiens are set to go up against tomorrow night, but mark my words. It won't be long until we hear the name "Ryan White" once again. He's a prototypical rough, tough energy player, and he would be a perfect fit on either of the Canadiens bottom two lines. The moment there's an injury, or some players begin to under-perform, Jacques Martin will not hesitate to bring Ryan White back into the line-up.
Gone, for now, but not forgotten, look out for Ryan White in Hamilton over the next few weeks. For some reason, he's actually been put into a position where he has more to prove - that he belongs in the NHL, and not in the minors, regardless of cap situations.
Andrei Markov is still rehabbing his knee injury.
Roman Hamrlik has missed all of training camp, and will miss the opener, just like last year.
Michael Cammalleri won't be there either, for obvious reasons.
Just in case things weren't looking bleak enough for the Canadiens heading into their opener at the Air Canada Center, word emerged this morning that starting goaltender Carey Price has succumbed to the flu, and is doubtful for tomorrow's game.
While nothing is confirmed, and J-Mart is likely to stay tight-lipped on the matter until well into Thursday, I have a nagging feeling that Price won't start tomorrow's game. Whether he dresses or not is anyone's guess, but if I had to make a prediction right now, Alex Auld will start between the pipes. Knowing how this team's luck works, Auld will earn a win, nay, a shutout for the Canadiens. And the goalie controversy will begin, once again.
Further details will be available tomorrow via TCL's Kathryn Pateridis, but if I had to sum up my expectations for tomorrow's game, expect a lot of hitting, a lot of fighting, and a lot of attempts at intimidation, mostly from the hands of the Leafs.
The biggest storyline heading into tomorrow's game might be Montreal social pariah Mike Komisarek. Coming off a horrible season marred with a lot of penalties and injuries, the former Habs defenseman could be looking to proof himself, and what better way to do so than against his former team, a team with a fanbase that hates his guts, and that sends him mean-spirited messages on twitter in hopes of getting blocked (and yes, I did get blocked :)).
There will be lots of new faces in the Leafs line-up, but not to be outdone, Phil Kessel and company will get their first glimpses of PK Subban, Lars Eller, and other new Habs as well. It should be a fun game, and despite what I said above about Alex Auld, it should be as unpredictable as always.
But since it's the first game, I'm going to go ahead and make a homer pick.
Habs 5 - Leafs 4 in a shootout. Plekanec scored 2 goals, PK Subban racks up 3 assists and Brian Gionta christens the new "C" on his jersey with the shootout winner.
Enjoy the game, and we hope you can join us for the LIVE BLOG right here on TCL!