Friday, October 06, 2017

Date: 05/10/2017
Opponent: Buffalo
Location: KeyBank Center
Win: 3-2 (PS)

Montreal Goalie: Price (W)
Buffalo Goalie: Lehner (L)

Montreal goalscorers: Pacioretty, Danault, Drouin (PS)
Buffalo goalscorers: Pominville (2)

Pre Game

I was a little nervous for the Canadiens heading into this game; hoping to see the potential that the current roster has, but bracing myself; big tough defensemen with some good puck movers in the mix, anchored by an all-star and playing in front of one as well, evened lines with a playmaker, a goal scorer, and a digger on each one.  Could that potential overcome the shortcomings new teammates and a new lineup?  Will the scoring troubles of last year and the preseason continue? Will coverage in our own zone and the ability to move the puck out improve from what we saw in the majority of the preseason?

As it turns out we got everything and then some.  Brilliance by Price, great efforts from our defense to keep the puck in the opposing zone, and real creativity from our forwards were a treat to watch with reality checks, at times, where we just couldn’t clear our zone; and we got both a reminder of where we still are in terms of our team’s development with a promise of where we might end up.

Dome hockey team

The 6 players we're playing in a no changes, do or die contest in the dome


Brendan Gallagher

What does Brendan Gallagher need to do in order to be successful?  Get into the dirty places in front of the net, take abuse from opposing defencemen and be undeterred by it, and put enough pressure on opposing defencemen so that clearing the zone becomes an uncomfortable task.  Check, check, and check.  He’s a digger and he gets dirty goals and playing on a line with Pacioretty and Drouin will see him get a bit more space and plenty more reward to do his job.  Tonight, he was instrumental in causing the turnover that led to Montreal’s first goal.

Max Pacioretty

Max is paid the big bucks to score goals, it’s what he’s done the last 6 seasons and it’s what he did last night.  That was a goal scorer’s goal and if we’re only allowed 6 guys on the ice you’d be crazy not to have him there the way he can snipe.

Jonathan Drouin

It’s worthy to not that Philip Danault very nearly made the dome tonight but I decided to keep this line and it’s chemistry together.  Jonathan Drouin was good in the circle,  good on the forcheck, had good vision coupled with precision passing, and looked calm under pressure as he beat a hot goaltender for the game winning penalty shot.  If there was any doubt about him being able to play centre for the Canadiens, it has to be smaller after his performance tonight.


Karl Alzner

He was pretty good in his own end.  He takes no prisoners when clearing out in front of Carey Price and had an important takeaway on Danault’s tying goal.  So far so good.

Shea Webber

As good as Alzner looked clearing the way in front of Price tonight, Webber was even better.  He’s a beast and I’m sure he makes Carey feel just a little safer; and was there a shot he didn’t block tonight?  I kid of course.  There were 45 of them, but the 4 Webber blocked were appreciated.


Carey Price - Game Puck

He makes the tough shots look easy and makes the saves he has no business saving at all.  43 out of 45 shots and matched, then bettered a hot goalie in his own right.  In a game of anything you can do I can do better there was no one better on the ice than Carey.  The Canadiens probably don’t win this game with anyone else in the net.

Post Game

It was with a heavy heart that I watched Nathan Beaulieu in an opposing jersey.  With so many questions on our blue line, and not all of them answered, I wonder how Marc Bergevin couldn’t find a spot for such a talented young man.  In my opinion, he was the best defenseman on the ice tonight for either team and that will take some time to get used to.

The Good News is that there’s a lot of good news.  Our top line played like a top line and Danault proved he can take over second line duties from Plekanec seamlessly.  Our defencemen did well to keep the puck in the opposing end and Carey was, well Carey.  With this being the first game I had myself braced for the plethora of things that could go wrong and was pleasantly surprised.  It wasn’t the comfortable win that a champion needs to get over teams like this but it was a road win against a team that gave them trouble last year, and is better, at least on paper, this year.  Sometimes you have to battle back and win the ugly games and that’s part of being a good team too.  Just don’t make a habit of it.

The Bad News is that there were too many passengers tonight.  The entire second and third lines weren’t very good and made some glaring mistakes in their own end along with our third defensive pairing.  I expect much better from Galchenyuk and Plekanec for sure.  No need to panic though.  To get a win with so many guys seemingly not as into it as they should be is still okay.  We know from past seasons the first month of the regular season doesn’t make or break an 82 game schedule.  I’m confident that these two players, in particular, will up their game sooner rather than later.

The Ugly part of the game tonight was a toss up between the Canadiens’ inability to clear their own zone at times and their insistence to take untimely penalties.  Shaw’s bogus penalty notwithstanding, the Canadiens were terribly undisciplined and unfocused when it came to taking penalties tonight.  They were quite lucky that they weren’t made to pay more on the PK than they were.  They also really struggled at times to get the puck out.  I don’t know if that’s due to half of them still not being used to Carey’s puck handling ability, a lack of focus, or just not good enough.  Let’s hope it’s A or B.  Let’s also hope that they work on that because there’s teams in the NHL a whole lot better on the forcheck than Buffalo.

A road win is a good win, period.  A lot of good things and I’m actually excited to see their offence again because the flashes of brilliance were everything we’ve been waiting for.  It looks like they finally have a number one centre and if Galchenyuk can get going they will have two legitimate scoring lines.  They’re going to need to tighten up in their own zone, though, because Carey can’t play 82 games and he’s not always going to be able to bail the team out on nights where +40 shots are given up.  The high turnover rate in their own zone, both last night and the first 6 games of the preseason,  is an area of their game concerned me going into Buffalo and it concerns me no less going into Washington.  Regardless, we’re 1-0 heading into Saturday night.


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