Saturday, January 30, 2010

A rallying cry?

Yeah, right.

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.

9 comments:

leo said...

that was interference,cammalleri didn't even have the puck

V said...

When God breaks your eggs, make an omelet.

Will be fun to see what the Canadiens make from this. I hope he's OK.

jkr said...

This 100th anniversary is not a celebration, it's a curse. When I look at the serious injuries the last couple of years - Lang, Latendresse, Markov, Cammalleri etc. - I just shake my head. I'll be glad when it's all over.

kyleroussel said...

I tend to agree Arpon. There's no sense in trying to trade assets for rentals. A full, healthy rosters with rentals still doesn't make Habs good enough to do any damage.

It's going to be a hard final 2.5 months to watch.

We're going to hear a lot of "tank the season" talk, which is fine except that athletes don't "tank" it. We're also going to hear a lot of "get rid of everyone and let the young guys play so we know what they can do". Well, we know what they young guys can do. And right now, the answer to that is not much.

It's hard for me to get a feel as to what positives to look for. There's little chance that Martin will change his philosophy. He didn't open it up when he had his team relatively healthy. There's no way he's going to do it now, lest he show that he's completely illogical. There's no point in talking about getting rid of "dead weight" because we don't have much to get rid of (and I'm not convinced that Gainey would be a seller). There's no point in talking about playing the young kids because it's already clear that they're not ready for Martin's system and/or they're not ready for the NHL.

To me, it looks like we'll play out the string, with a couple minor moves and mostly watch this thing slowly circle the drain.

yvresgyros said...

Exactly what I was thinking, Arpon, you are spot on. Even tough losing Cammy hurts both my hockey pools, I'll go with the greater good and simply, from now on, hope for a good high draft pick, and a modest sale at the deadline. Gill, Hamr, Mara, Metro, Lapierre could eventually all go, not saying it will or should or can be done, but these are the names I see. And if we got the return we got for Rivet a few seasons back, this could fetch interesting (of course not earth-shattering) returns. And at least it would free some space for the signing of the goalies, Pleks and Pouliot.
Getting good backups for the cup run in Hamilton wouldn't either be a bad idea. Deceiving prospects for other organizations could prove to be golden under Guy Boucher. I'm not day-dreaming about it, but this is an rosy scenario I wouldn't be surprised to see play out.

pfhabs said...

@V:

-philosophical soul that you are sometimes you just need to stoically accept the reality of the situation which is not good and move forward

-they were a bubble team before july, he made the D slower and older and pushed the cap to the limits. he put all the eggs in one basket which through injuries and a seemingly unsuitable system has maintained them at bubble status. making an omelet with cooking utensils or any other suitable ingredients is just wishful thinking and ignores the obvious

-if Arpon is correct it will be a godsend and something to be managed by others. no shame in it stuff happens and that's the most positive spin I can put on this current level of managerial acumen

-a top 3 draft pick would be the best news that this team could ever expect this year

Anonymous said...

Leafs get Phaneuf... Good job Gainey for not paying for an overpriced dman...but I would have liked Phaneuf over Gomez contract... Leafs have Beauchemin, Komisarek, Kaberle, Phaneuf and Finger... over $23M in defense... my question - who will score? Rumors Burke is getting Giguere too... LOL

LeMatheux said...

The Habs' standings position is made to look better because they have played more games than most everyone. In terms of points percentage, they were 26th not two days ago. With Cammy out, getting a lottery pick seems like a high probability no matter what the Habs actually try to do.

Gainey should already have been a "seller", or, more appropriately, a stand-pat-and-get-a-pick guy; this merely clinches matter and removes external objections.

The key to scoring more 5-on-5 goals is not re-jigging personnel, it is changing the approach to give everyone, but especially the bottom six forwards, a chance to contribute. The Habs' top six is capable of putting the puck in the net 5-on-5, which speaks to their talent level because the Habs don't generate very many chances.

On the ice, the Habs did look like they're trying a new strategic approach since around the NJ game, but they're not drilled for it and the results are very, very mixed so far. The passive style was at least good at defensive coverage, but it was done at the expense of everything else. Lately they've displayed a lot more puck pursuit and a lot more aggressiveness, much fewer clears off the boards and way more attempts to transition from the D zone with possession. It's led to better puck possession, but they're not used to it especially in the defensive zone where they end up chasing the puck too much and their transition game isn't up to snuff, so they're bleeding chances against. Their synchronism is also off in the offensive zone so they have trouble creating good chances. But if they can settle down in that style, they should see improvements in their 5-on-5 game; I just hope they're smart enough to keep it up even if the results aren't immediate.

john deere said...

Burke made trades that he needed to. He still has a long way to go but good for him.

I also would be happy with a bottom three pick. Tyler Sequin should be good enough for us, lol.