The loss of Mike Cammalleri during Saturday's 3-2 overtime loss in Ottawa will likely be used as some sort of motivating factor for the Canadiens, but for a team that was already the most anemic in the NHL in 5-on-5 scoring, losing your top goal-scorer for any amount of time cannot be positive.
In fact, it reminds me of a song that perfectly sums up the Habs playoff chances if Cammalleri has a significant injury:
Sorry if that's a little dramatic, but really if Cammalleri is out for any length of time that Habs playoff chances are essentially dead. He is the top offensive threat on a team sorely lacking offence, one that has gone the equivalent of 11 periods without scoring an even strength goal. If Andrei Kostitsyn was tough to replace, how will the team replace the player who looked he would become the Habs first 40-goal scorer in 16 years?
I don't know about you, but watching him go awkwardly into the boards does not elicit much hope from me. If you didn't see it, here it is, and just wait for the final replay before making your own judgment:
But that injury, assuming it is as bad as it looks, could be a blessing in disguise of for the Habs in this transition year from hell. No, not in the sense of what you will be hearing from the Canadiens left standing, that this will provide an opportunity for others to "step up" and make up for Cammalleri's loss. But rather that this could provide the Canadiens a pretty perfect opportunity to sell a total stinker of a season to their fanbase, which could land a top-notch prospect to build around.
I ran across the Springing Malik blog today and there's a very interesting monthly tally of injuries and how much they cost each team, both in terms of dollars and ice time. As you'll notice, the Habs are third in terms of dollars lost and 11th in terms of minutes lost to injury. The probable fall of Cammalleri could push Montreal to No. 1 when it comes to dollars lost and it will move them up the race in minutes lost as well.
Even though Montreal is still holding down a playoff spot thanks to the loser point earned Saturday, a drop to 26th overall in the league is not out of the question. In fact, the Habs could be there by the Olympic break. And the way the Carolina Hurricanes are playing of late, perhaps by the end of the season 27th in the NHL will be possible. That's a pretty decent lottery pick, with a good shot at a top-3 pick, and a perfect excuse to feed an enraged fan base for a horrendous season.
It could also lead to a massive sell-off at the trade deadline, which would bring in even more draft picks. The beauty of the situation would be that the Habs wouldn't need to rebuild, simply retool with good young talent.
It could become what the franchise should have been dreaming of for years: an excusable dud of a season that lands a talent to build around.