……Lars Eller has been cleared to take part in full contact training. Eller underwent shoulder surgery ar the end of last season. How well he was able to maintain conditioning while re-habbing will govern the date of his return. One to two weeks is the best guess. He practiced on a line with Tomas Plekanec and Erik Cole this morning.
……Erik Cole was the billboard off-season Canadiens signing. He has not done much to earn the big money he’s being paid. At least not yet. Before the end of training camp we saw Cole slip from ‘top six’ forward to the third line and then off the power play. Among the forwards, only Andreas Engqvist, Travis Moen and Mathieu Darche logged fewer minutes last night than Cole’s 14:38.
……Last year the Canadiens were penalized an NHL leading fourteen times for “too many men on the ice”. Nothing’s changed that I can see. They were whistled for the offence again at 18:30 of the second period while they were already shorthanded. And it was no rookie mistake. Brian Gionta was the one who jumped too soon, but part of the blame has to be shouldered by Michael Cammalleri who was taking his own sweet time getting to the bench while the Leafs were on the attack. The Canadiens survived the five-on-three thanks to the brilliant penalty killing of Tomas Plekanec.
……The report on defenseman Chris Campoli is a hamstring strain. He caught his skate in a rut in the ice in the second period, did not return and left the Air Canada Centre on crutches. It’s not too serious we’re told, but he won’t be making the trip to Winnipeg. His left leg will be re-examined by team doctors on Tuesday. Think, two to three weeks on this one.
……With the injury to Campoli, Alexei Emelin will make his NHL debut Sunday. He practiced today alongside Josh Gorges.
…….The mysterious lower body Blair Betts injury was never described as anything but “not serious”. There’s a slim chance he’ll be in the lineup
Sunday. Next Thursday in the home opener against Calgary is more likely.
…….Nobody will accuse Pierrre Gauthier of not having a backup plan. Immediately he lost defenseman Jeff Woywitka on a waiver call by the New York Rangers, he signed a Woywitka clone in 6 foot three inch UFA Joe Callahan, another one of those players who rides the line between the NHL and the AHL. Eventually he’ll go to Hamilton.
…….Sunday’s game in Winnipeg is going to start sometime after 5.00pm Eastern. Count on an endless pre-game ceremony for the first regular season NHL game in Manitoba in fifteen years.