It may be a preview of the CFL East Division final when the first-place Montreal Alouettes visit the second-place Hamilton Tiger-Cats tonight (TSN, 5p.m.).
But Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo says he won’t be holding back any plays to avoid giving the Ticats hints of what their playoff game plan may look like.
He just wants the Alouettes (11-4) to stay hot over their final three regular season games, starting with Hamilton (8-7).
“We’re here to compete and win,” Calvillo said this week. ”We are coming off a short week so we’re limited in what we can do, but we’re not going to hold anything back.
“We’ll run the offence we’re capable of running. We’ll go with a lot of stuff we’re comfortable with.”
The Ticats can still match the Alouettes in points if they win all three remaining games and Montreal loses three in a row.
However, the Als would still take top spot because they have already clinched the season series between the clubs. Montreal beat the visiting Ticats 37-14 on July 22 and won 26-6 in Hamilton on Sept. 11.
Montreal has beaten Hamilton six straight times since a 44-38 loss on Oct. 4, 2008. The Als are 14-1 against the Ticats since 2005.
The Ticats may have greater motivation after taking a firm grip on second place last week with a 30-3 victory of the rival Argonauts (7-8) in Toronto. They have won the season series with the Argos, and Hamilton will still want to keep them at bay.
“Every game we played against Hamilton we played hard,” said Montreal safety Mathieu Proulx. ”We knew they would be a tough opponent in the East and we took them very seriously.
“Last year they passed for 500 yards against us in the last game and we know they have a great quarterback (Kevin Glenn) and great receivers.”
Hamilton’s Arland Bruce leads the CFL with 1,291 receiving yards. Calvillo said he’s wary of a Ticat defence that forced seven Argo turnovers.
“It starts with their front seven — they’re able to rush four or five guys and they run so many twists,” he said. “They’re creative in what they do and it’s challenging. The key for us is to make sure the guys up front handle them, which they’ve done all year.”
Hamilton picked up former Winnipeg linebacker Kyries Hebert this week, but he is expected to play only on special teams in his first game.
Clinching top spot and a bye to the East final has allowed Montreal coach Marc Trestman to give some banged up players a game off — including linebacker Diamond Ferri, who has a hip flexor, and kicker Damon Duval, whose return from a hamstring problem has been delayed an extra week.
Colt David, who made all six field-goal tries in his CFL debut but missed two attempts last week, will kick for a third straight game.
Running back Avon Cobourne is out with a bruised rib, so Brandon Whitaker will play tailback.
Kick returner Tim Maypray has returned home to Chicago to be with a sick family member and will be replaced by Leroy Vann.
Trestman said he will be watching how his team performs late in the game after they nearly blew a lead in the dying minutes of a 22-19 win over Winnipeg on Sunday.
“The last three minutes was our emphasis this week,” he said. “We lacked focus and took penalties offensively that backed us up late in the game.
‘We couldn’t get enough movement to control the ball and had to turn it over to the defence. And defensively, with a two-score lead, we put ourselves in a position where (linebacker) Chip Cox had to strip the ball or we could have been in overtime.”
There was no question of resting 38-year-old Calvillo, although, as they did last year, he will likely watch from the sidelines in Montreal’s regular season finale Nov. 7 at home against Toronto.
Calvillo needs eight completions to become the second CFL quarterback with 5,000 in his career, behind Damon Allen who had 5,158 over 23 seasons.
Cox needs three defensive tackles to break Stefen Reid’s team record of 320 in his career.
Montreal has finished first in the East all three years since Trestman was hired in 2008 and nine times since 1999.