Quick Hits – Canadiens Week #1 –  

…..The Canadiens today were forced to admit that Andrei Markov is in Florida having his surgically repaired knee re-examined by Dr. James Andrews.  Markov had been with the team in Toronto and left Sunday for the Pensacola suburb of Gulf Breeze on Sunday for what the team is calling a”scheduled examination”.  There are no secrets any more.  Word of trip appeared on the internet complete with unconfirmed reports that his leg had to be propped up the whole plane trip.  We’re all in the dark.  But, it’s also possible the Canadiens don’t know much more about a Markov return-date  than we do.  The last time he was seen on ice was during the Canadiens stay in Collingwood, Ontario two weeks ago.

…..Tomas Plekanec was the Canadiens best player through the season’s first two games, not for his offense, which was good (he took six shots on goal) but his defence and penalty killing which was nothing short of brilliant.  The Habs were forced to kill off 5-on-3 situations twice; a total of 2:37.  Plekanec was on the ice for every second of it. His goal Sunday was two seconds away from being shorthanded.  The Canadiens have successfully killed all eleven opposition power plays.

…..Seems to me it’s better to look at man-games-lost than how many days it will take the injuries to Michael Cammalleri and Jaroslav Spacek to recover.  Cammalleri will be out ten to fourteen days.  In real terms that’s between five and seven games.  The estimate is three weeks for that Spacek’s rib injury.  That’s a very significant nine games.

…..Josh Gorges is one of those players who makes everyone around him look better.  Chris Campoli couldn’t get an NHL contract until the Canadiens approached him during training camp.  He looked like a “top-sixer” alongside Gorges until he was injured in Toronto.  Since then he’s been a baby-sitter for Raphael Diaz and to some extent Alexei Emelin.  Neither rookie has been on the ice for a goal-against and Gorges is plus-2 in the process.

……Can the Canadiens continue to win when two-thirds of their starting defence has less than two years NHL experience and two of them, Diaz and Emelin,  total three games in the league?   Realistically, you have to say “no”.   If the group doesn’t collapse it will be one of the early season league sensations.

…..Last season, like this year, the Canadiens came up short in their Toronto season opener.  In their next nine games they were 7-1-1.  Can’t imagine we’ll see a repeat this season. The difference is, last year outside of the opening game when Cammalleri was out with a suspension and Hamrlik had a minor knee problem, the Canadiens were healthy.  Definitely not the case this time ‘round.

…..At this stage of his career, what you see is generally what you get with Travis MoenBut once in a while, like Sunday in Winnipeg, he finds himself in a zone, which is the only way to explain a game in which he found some usually untapped speed to pull away from the Jets defence to score a goal.  With a great shorthanded pass he sent Plekanec away with what turned out to be the winning goal.  He give us a spin-o-rama and a toe drag and three shots on goal.    Who woulda thunk it?

…..The Canadiens claimed Blair Betts off the waiver wire when they realized Andreas Engqvist wasn’t quite ready to assume the role of fourth line centreman.   Engqvist wa sent to Hamilton but, when Betts was sent back to the Flyers as damaged goods, Engqvist was recalled before he could unpack his equipment bag in Hamilton.  Judging by his performance Sunday,his  24-hour trip to the minors was a wakeup call.  After seeing him in Toronto,  Sunday Martin made him his number two penalty killing centre.  He did his job and he’ll be back there against Calgary.

….Those who are expecting Erik Cole to be some sort of horse on the Canadiens power play might be better off lowering expectations.  Last year, only three of Cole’s twenty-six Carolina goals came on their power play last year.  Coach Paul Maurice knew something.  In terms of average PP ice time, Cole ranked fifth among the team’s forwards. I expect Cole will be a useful addition to the Canadiens, it just won’t be in that area.  The Canadiens biggest weakness last year was five-on-five scoring.  He may not be on the power play, but he fills the even-strength bill perfectly.

From the System –  The Hamilton Bulldogs won their opening game of the season, thanks to their top line of Palushaj, Willsie and Trotter.  Trotter had two goals and two assists in a 5-1 win over Rochester.
Defenseman Frederic St. Denis also scored twice.  Game two for Hamilton will  in St. John’s Newfoundland Friday.   Palushaj was re-called by the Canadiens on Tuesday.

Michael Bournival suffered an upper body injury in practice and will be gone from the Shawinigan Cataractes lineup for a month.  After being sent back to the QMJHL from Canadiens training camp he scored 10 goals and 13 points in ten games before the injury.

Brendan Gallagher has played four Vancouver Giants games since being returned to the WHL.  He has 7 goals and 2 assists including 3 goals and 2 assists Monday afternoon against the Victoria Royals.   Upon his return to the Giants from the Canadiens, Gallagher told the Vancouver Sun, “My motivation is to win with the Giants.  You probably  don’t believe me but it’s true. The world juniors and Montreal stuff, that will  take care of itself. For me, it’s all about being in Vancouver and winning with  Vancouver.”