Montreal's had a crap season. No other way to put it. The team is dysfunctional, the ownership is meddling, the coaching is poor and no one has any confidence whatsoever in the General Manager's abilities.
So, basically, they're the Calgary Flames.
While it may be pretty much done for the Canadiens this season, there are still quite a few games left to play. This gives them the chance to evaluate talent and determine what direction the team should go in the offseason. This evaluation has been "helped" by long-term injuries to veterans such as Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta, but you don't care about that.
It's Rene Bourque's return to the 'Dome tonight and it's to the surprise of absolutely no one he is continuing the horrible play he put forth his last season and a half in Calgary. Even though his situations have gotten marginally easier and his teammates a tiny bit better, his relative Corsi rate has gone down by almost 1.5 events per game in the 22 contests he's played for le Bleu, Blanc et Rouge. While Mike Cammalleri hasn't been amazing by any stretch of the imagination, getting rid of Bourque's term and the stability Cammalleri brought to the center position in the past few games have been quite appreciated. If you're going to the game tonight, I ask that you please do not boo Bourque. He was frustrating to watch, sure, but it's not like he has repeatedly shit on the organization after being traded.
Speaking of the game tonight, the Flames are hurting more then they have at any point of the season beforehand. The bottom two lines today are made up of AHLers and the "top line" a. has been shit pretty much the entire year and b. now has Matt Stajan as the centreman. Now, I go to bat for Stajan more then anyone else on the planet save his mother but that type of expected comp is going to leave him wide-eyed.
I have seen some comments today regarding how this team shouldn't be using injury as an excuse. While I agree with the premise, the way the point has been argued is flawed. Most of the injuries have been to guys who are second and third liners, yes, but those are also the only guys who push play forward and are defensively responsible. Thinking about how badly the Flames have been outshot lately, it's not a reach to suggest that those third liners do more to keep the game close then the top line does.
Players To Watch
Greg Nemisz-He'll probably be limited in his shifts tonight, but it should be interesting to see how he adapts to the NHL game. I've made no bones about it-to me, he's dangerously close to being labeled "non-prospect".
Louis LeBlanc-The Habs best pure prospect is getting some NHL time at the end of the season.
If there was ever a game for the Flames to dress 9 replacement-level players, this is the one. Montreal sucks and they're banged up; the Flames need to break the losing streak.