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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Point in the Very Least!!!

If you thought Monday night's game against Calgary was weird, last night's game took the cake.

I've posted previously how certain losses are just unacceptable and reek of a lack of effort. Last night's 2-1 OT loss to the Buffalo Sabres was not one of those losses. The Canadiens have nothing to be ashamed of as the effort was there. In fact, they should be proud of the way they performed and almost eked out 2 points.

Canadiens head athletic therapist Graham Rynbend helps Michael Cammalleri (left) and Max Pacioretty off HSBC Center ice in Buffalo. Note photo at left: Pacioretty on the bench, soon to be headed off in distress himself.Bill Wippert, NHLI via Getty Images

Ultimately, the Canadiens must have been happy to hobble out of Buffalo alive... battered and bruised, they lost 2 forwards before the game was 5 minutes old.

Cause and effect worked its magic on Cammellari last night. Posted just to the right of Ryan Miller, the small but powerful forward had a wide open net, only to put the puck back into the goaltender who made a good save.

As he chased the puck to the side boards, he was shoved forward, taking the full brunt of the fall into the boards with his left shoulder. Habs got a power play out of it, but lost Cammellari -- who continues to stumble through a difficult season so far -- for at least 2 weeks, and probably more, with a rumoured separated shoulder.

So instead of celebrating the first goal of the game, #13 for the Habs limped off the ice in pain.

The Canadiens scored on the powerplay, with David Desharnais again showing signs that he is in fact a younger Marty St. Louis in deflecting a nice pass by Hamrlik past Miller.

Then Max Pacioretty, posted in front of the net like he should be, took the full brunt of a James Wisniewski slapper in his lower chest. He hobbled off the ice in pain and was taken to hospital for precautions. Hopefully he does not have internal damage or a broken rib.

The Habs had a few more chances and could have gone up by a few more goals in the frame, but the weird bounces continued. Near the end of the period, Subban took a shot right off his ankle. Later, Gionta took one off the head. Jeff Halpern got hit to the head and left the game for a short while, only to play a couple more shifts. Hal Gill was hobbled. Andrei Kostitsyn was hobbled. Scott Gomez was hobbled.

Thankfully, nothing happened to Carey Price (so we know) who was great last night.

As the game wore on, the Canadiens appeared tired, sore, dishevelled -- but determined. And they fully sweated out this very valuable point. If it weren't for pure grit by those remaining on the bench and Price's strong play, the Habs walk away with nothing. They even almost won the game at the end of regulation with Plekanec walking in alone, only to be stopped by Miller.

It also helped that the Sabres, well... frankly, they're not that good. They're an average, middle of the road team even with Ryan Miller in nets. And they could barely take advantage of a beaten-up Habs team, needing a powerplay in OT to get the win.

The team will try to evaluate the situation moving forward before getting ready to meet the Senators in Kanata on Friday night, before hosting the return of Saku Koivu at the Bell Centre on Saturday.

PS: If anything but outstanding applause occurs for Koivu, I will write the Canadiens indicating my displeasure. He better not be treated like Chara by the Habs faithful. Not that I think he will, but the Bell Centre crowd can sometimes be fickle.

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