TORONTO – This weekend your Argos will square off against their division rival as they look for their first Grey Cup birth since Grey Cup 92 in 2004.
Standing in between them and captivating the city of Toronto with a Grey Cup game are Anthony Calvillo and the Montreal Alouettes, who the Argos have struggled against in recent years.
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Montreal owns the season series against Toronto in 2013 with a 2-1 record, with Toronto’s only win coming back in July when they visited McGill Stadium. It should be noted however, that Ricky Ray has only played in one full game against the Als (a 23-20 win) as he was injured in the first quarter of one game and did not play in the other. Since returning from that injury, Ray has played his best football of the 2012 season over the past three games completing 67 of 93 passes (72%) for 927 yards, ten (10) touchdowns and 135.0 rating.
Ray is also getting his first taste of the Toronto-Montreal rivalry in the playoffs, a matchup that currently advantages the Als. Montreal owns the East Finals record against Toronto holding a 6-4 edge over the Boatmen with the Argos securign no playoff victory against Montreal since 2004. Montreal also owns the all-time rivalry record against Toronto holding a 108-83-3 edge in all games the two clubs have played.
Ray however, has only factored into this rivalry in the one game in July and brings a strong playoff track record to the table. Ray has played in 13 total CFL playoff games and holds a 9-4 record compared to Calvillo who sits at just 11-10. In his six playoff games against Toronto, Calvillo has thrown for 1,331 yards, three interceptions and five touchdowns with a completion percentage of 66.3% and an efficiency rating of 93.2.
Ray possesses a considerably smaller statistical sample against the Als but when he has played them it has mattered and he has got the job done. Both of Ray's Grey Cup wins have come against the Alouettes as he collected Grey Cup rings in 2003 and 2005 in wins against Montreal. In 2003 he completed 22 of 32 passes for 301 yards, two TDs and carried the ball seven times for 13 yards and one TD. In 2005 he was named Grey Cup Most Valuable Player completing 35 of 45 passes for 359 yards, 2 TDs, adding 4 carries for 18 yards and 1 TD setting a new Grey Cup single-game completions record by completing 35 of 45 attempts (77.8%). In his one non-Grey Cup game against the Als (the 2008 East Final), Ricky threw for 339 yards, one touchdown, a completion percentage of 53.1% and an efficiency of 81.9.
With Ray at the helm the Argos are a very different team then the ones that have lost to Montreal over the last few seasons. In the 13 games that Ray has started and finished for the Boatmen he has averaged 31 yards passing and a new offence of 392 yards per game. When Ray was hurt this season the team only managed 221 passing yards and just 295 yards of net offence, showing that Ray provides a 30% increase in offensive production for the Double Blue.
On the flip side, the Argos have been able to limit the Kid From LaPuente as they account for four of Calvillo’s 14 interceptions this season and have limited Calvillo to a 52% or below completion percentage twice this season.
If Ray is able to continue his strong play of late and the Argos can duplicate their in-season success against Calvillo, there is a good chance the Boatmen can make it back to the Grey Cup game for the first time since 2004.