Whitby - November 12, 2011 - At a time when the Montreal Canadiens are beginning to see an increase in the number of walking wounded, their enigmatic, high-priced centreman, affectionately known as Scott Gomez, is set to return to action on Saturday evening when the Canadiens face the Nashville Predators in Music City.
I have been adamant thus far that until his level of play improves, Gomez should be sitting in the press box watching each game from above. For the past nine games, he has been out of the Canadiens’ lineup due to a shoulder injury.
Unfortunately, the Canadiens are suffering from various key players missing game action due to one injury or another. Kostitsyn versus Kostitsyn will not happen on Saturday evening as big brother Andrei is nursing a sore groin. Andrei could only skate for ten minutes at practice on Friday.
Also worrisome for the Canadiens is the status of Michael Cammalleri. On Friday, Cammalleri skated on his own and will be a game-time decision. Cammalleri recently suffered a thigh injury in Montreal’s previous game versus the Edmonton Oilers.
As a result of the aforementioned, the Canadiens really have no choice but to dress Gomez for the Nashville contest. It is expected that Gomez will play on the fourth line left-wing to ease him back into game shape.
Should Cammalleri not be ready for the Nashville contest, the projected Habs’ lineup will look like:
1. Moen - Plekanec - Gionta
2. Pacioretty - Desharnais - Cole
3. Darche - Eller - Blunden
4. Gomez - Nokelainen - Palushaj
1. Gorges - Subban
2. Gill - Weber
3. Spacek - Diaz
Carey Price will get a deserved night off for the Habs. I am no coach, but if it were up to me, I would have dressed Peter Budaj for the Phoenix game and dressed Price for Saturday’s contest. Budaj is a very respectable backup goaltender, but if you want to win the big games, you need to dress your best players.
On Saturday night, the Habs are going to face a very strong team with a high-end calibre netminder in Pekka Rinne, one of the top goaltenders in the game today. Montreal would be better off to dress Price, but that is just my two cents.
Speaking of dressing your best players, did you notice Travis Moen (#32) is scheduled to play on Montreal’s first line? Yes, he is ranked in a three-way tie for sixth place in the team-lead for points with seven and he has played a strong two-way game so far this season, but why not put Pacioretty on the first line? Perhaps, Coach Jacques Martin is trying to distribute the team offence among his four lines.
What is also even more startling to me is the fact that rookie defenseman Alexei Emelin is set to be a healthy scratch on Saturday evening. Are you kidding me? Other than for Josh Gorges, Emelin is one of the Canadiens’ most physical defenseman.
What are your thoughts? Do you agree with how Jacques Martin is juggling his lineup from night-to-night?
Let us hope that once the Montreal - Nashville contest in the Music City concludes on Saturday night, Habs’ fans will be whistling Dixie and not singing the blues.
Until next time, play every game as if it is your last one…