Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year kids

No one in their right minds could have reasonably expected the Canadiens to go through another season like last one, where they had virtually no major injuries.

But this is starting to get a bit ridiculous.

The announcement Thursday that Alex Tanguay would miss six weeks with a shoulder injury was not a shocker, based on how he slouched his way to the bench after taking that hit from Evgeny Artyukhin on Tuesday. But what was a surprise was that Carey Price played that game with a lower-body injury he suffered in the warmup, which didn't stop him from allowing only one goal and stoning Vinny Lecavalier in the shootout to seal the Habs win.

Price won't play Friday night in New Jersey and might even miss Sunday afternoon's home game against the Panthers, and as well as Jaroslav Halak played during Price's last absence, this is horrible news for the Habs.

But there was great news for the kids who were called up from Hamilton on New Year's Day, as Max Pacioretty, Yannick Weber, Kyle Chipchura and Marc Denis met the team in New Jersey on Thursday.

I was pretty stunned when Chipchura was sent back down to Hamilton instead of Ben Maxwell, so either that meant Chipchura still wasn't fully recovered from his groin injury, or that Maxwell's play has been that much better than expected. Maxwell hasn't embarrassed himself out there, but I'm not sure he's played well enough to squeeze past Chipchura on the depth chart.

I'll be interested to see which of the three skaters called up will be in uniform Friday night, and if Weber isn't one of them I'll be stunned. Guy Carbonnneau allowed for the possibility of playing the Swiss defenceman as a forward to ease him into the lineup, and that's exactly what I feel Carbonneau needs to do.

Let's see if Weber and his right-handed rocket point shot can be the cure to what ails the Habs power play. He has eight goals - five on the power play - and 10 assists in 31 games in Hamilton so far. But ever since he scored twice on two power play blasts in a Bell Centre loss to the Binghamton Senators on Nov 30, Weber has six goals and five assists in his last 12 games.

Considering everyone appears to agree that the main reason for the general malaise on the power play has been the lack of a shooting threat on the blue line, I see no reason why Weber shouldn't be given a chance to become the solution. If ever he proves himself worthy of that spot, it would be tricky trying to get him into the lineup when everyone is back healthy, but that's a problem that can be dealt with at that time.

For now, let's see what the kid can do.


Arjun said...

This makes no sense.

Jeremy said...

As far as I know, Chipchura and Pacioretty were sent back down to Hamilton last week because of the NHL's holiday roster freeze.

I, too, would be stunned if Weber doesn't play tonight but from what I've heard, it won't be as a forward. Pacioretty and Chipchura are being penciled in to start alongside Begin on the fourth line.

For a player in his rookie year of professional hockey, I haven't been overly disappointed in Maxwell thus far. He's proven to be fairly responsible in the defensive end and has decent enough hockey sense that he can do some good things in the offensive zone. A year or two on the farm will do him a lot of good and hopefully he can take his experience at face value and learn as much as possible from it.

Here's hoping O'Byrne can turn his season around down in Hamilton as well.