Poor power plays, a leader-less team, and a pile of injuries are certainly not what Montreal’s head coach Guy Carbonneau had in mind for his Christmas list.
The blue mask with the majestic CH on top and Garth Brooks on the side does protect a man from shots and sticks. Neither does it protect at against the flu nor any lower body injuries. This combo is keeping Carey Price out of the game for more than a week.
The man with the "C" is also on the sideline, suffering from a lower body injury as well. Saku Koivu is expected to make a return to the game after Christmas.
It is not easy to be Guy Carbonneau these days. Searching, mixing ideas, trying not to sound like an old disk in his daily speech, trying to motivate his players.
He got his players into a shooting exercise at practice, without defence; judging too much pressure on the players is not the way to go either.
Guillaume Latendresse has been named a few times as well over the last few weeks. The young forward had to watch a few games from the press box, later confessing to the media that he was confused by the turn of the situation.
Now, back to the lineup. “Thanks” to Chris Higgins’ injury, he got a crystal clear message from Uncle Guy: Be a little more like (drum roll) Milan Lucic. (La Presse) Lucic, the 20-year-old who holds the league’s record so far this season with 117 hits, and doesn’t come shy with a +13 rating. Yes, that Milan Lucic.
Alexei Kovalev is also still in search of that magic shot which will fool a goaltender’s glove and turn on that red light behind the enemy.
While the temporary captain of the Montreal Canadiens judges it is not time to panic yet, the media and columns seem to be asking just one thing of him: You say you've got talent; now might be the time to show it.
We can go on and on about the bad and ugly stories of the Montreal Canadiens. The list is long when it comes to what goes wrong and who does what wrong.
But what about the good ones? Where is this holiday spirit we have been waiting for all year?
Come on, let’s not add to the daily headaches of traffic and gas prices; the late Christmas shopping and the students’ finals. Let us use those old hockey clichés that got us through tough times in the past: “others will step up” and “we will see the true depth and character of the team.”
Because, after all, we are still fifth in the East!
For the trade-oriented strategists who chose Jaroslav Halak as a potential candidate for the big move, more ice time might be a plus on his market value.
For Kovalev’s eternal fans (me included), there might be hope that the "C" on his jersey will tilt a few nerves in his brain, bringing back those good old days of fun!
And let’s not forget the bright future currently on our hands: Youngsters such as Ben Maxwell and Matt D’Agostini are having amazing opportunities with the big club.
And finally, Guy Carbonneau thinks stability when it comes to his lineups, as there won't be any change for the game against Carolina.
Notes from Aside
The Latendresse-Plekanec-S.Kostitsyn and the A.Kostitsyn-Maxwell-D'Agostini lines leave me to wonder.
A kid's line with Tender and the two rookies, while having the brothers Kostitsyn play together with Plekanec, would have been my suggestion.