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Notebook - Oct. 27, 2010

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
MONTREAL -- In today's Notebook: Gorges talks strategy, it's about the game, not the player for Cammy, Picard discuses Markov's return and Auld is ready for action.

The key to Wednesday night: It’s easy to make the argument that the Montreal Canadiens wouldn’t be sitting atop the Eastern Conference right now without the stellar play of Josh Gorges. Here’s what the Habs’ defensive pillar – currently leading the team with just over 23 minutes per game – had to say about their Wednesday night opponents.

“They’re a good team. They’re aggressive, they’re always all over the puck and they forecheck hard, not to mention they’ve been playing really well lately,” said Gorges on preparing to face the Islanders twice in three nights. “Right now, we need to concentrate on getting these first two points at home and I think the key to doing that is discipline on our end. This is a team that’s scored 10 or 11 goals on the power-play already, so we have to play smart against them, play our game and make them as uncomfortable as possible playing theirs.”

The business side of the game:  After creating a spot for himself on the team after demonstrating solid two-way play, Alex Picard will now have to grapple with the prospect of getting bumped himself as veteran Andrei Markov prepares to make his much anticipated return Saturday night.

“It’s been great having the opportunity to play so much hockey this week. I’m trying to maintain my focus and keep doing the same things that have been working for me, but at the same time I’m trying not to get too far ahead of myself knowing that Markov is going to be back in the lineup,” said the Picard, whose shown consistent improvement since the start of the season. “It’s not ideal, in that I’d love to be penciled in as someone who is going to play the whole year, but that’s just the business side of hockey and it’s something I’ll have to deal with.”

Another day at the office: Wednesday night marks the first time this regular season that the Canadiens and the Islanders will cross paths. It’s also the first time that Michael Cammalleri and Nino Niederreiter will meet since their preseason altercation that ended in Cammalleri being assessed a one-game suspension for slashing.

“This game isn’t about me and it isn’t about any one specific player on the Islanders. There are a lot more important things at stake for both teams tonight, and I’m preparing for the game the same way I would for any other,” assured Cammalleri, who has six points in his first seven games. “Our goal as a team is to win tonight and get two points from a team that’s been playing well lately. I’m sure the Islanders have the exact same goal.”

Calling for Backup: Carey Price has treated Montreal fans to quite a show so far this season with a strong start over the initial stretch. In eight games, Price has only given up two losses in regulation time. Comfortable in his role as the Habs’ backup goaltender, Alex Auld has continued to work hard at practices, waiting for the chance to get a start and help his team win. With a busy week on hand for the Canadiens, the 29-year-old veteran is counting on playing his first game as a Hab this upcoming weekend.

“I think Alex Auld has an excellent chance of playing this weekend, especially with home and away games back-to-back,” said Jacques Martin, who opted not to confirm which game would see Auld’s debut. “We’re playing four games this week, and he’s going to be an important part of that schedule.”

Justin Fragapane is a writer for

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