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Positive signs from Habs game one

The Canadiens may have lost to the Maple Leafs last night, but there were a lot of things to like about Montreal’s game. Carey Price looked good, if not very good, making a key save early on Phil Kessel and a highlight reel save late. Yes, he let in three goals, and yes, perhaps he went down a tad early on a few shots, but his lateral movement was excellent. I am buoyed by Price’s performance, and I urge people to be patient.

Up front, newcomers Lars Eller, Jeff Halpern and Dustin Boyd all looked great in their Canadiens debut, with Halpern and Boyd both scoring. Maxime Lapierre looked excellent, notching an assist while bringing the body and helping to create both goals. PK Subban demonstrated some of the skills that have made Habs fans drool, going end to end at one point and undressing two Maple Leafs in the process. Perhaps the greatest positive of all for Montreal fans? Mike Komisarek no longer plays for the Canadiens. Anyone who watched last night’s game will no doubt agree that Komisarek looked terrible, and the simple fact the Canadiens didn’t pay him exorbitant amounts of money to play in Montreal is a good thing.

Where there are positives, however, there are a few negatives. Andrei Kostitsyn needs to be more physical and stand up to the opposing defence. And the Canadiens have a problem on defence, in that they are slow. After Gorges and Subban (and the injured Andrei Markov), the Canadiens are very flat footed. Hal Gill looked slow (although, doesn’t he always look slow?) and Jaroslav Spacek looked even worse. Spacek was outdone by Clarke MacArthur for a goal, but more than that he just looked out of sync. He was brought in last year as a free agent on the basis of his shot blocking and his point shot – both were invisible last night, with the latter being a serious concern. Last year, the Canadiens were hopeless without Andrei Markov on the power play and signed Marc-Andre Bergeron. Are we seeing a little bit of history repeating? The Habs created lots of chances on three straight power plays in the second period, yet they lacked that finish from the point.

All that said, Mike Cammalleri, Andrei Markov and Roman Hamrlik didn’t play last night. Each of them makes a significant difference, and I suspect the Canadiens will be much, much better with a healthy lineup. Lost in the shuffle of callers to Montreal radio last night and this morning raging about, what else, Carey Price? The Leafs were actually pretty good, and JS Giguere was excellent. So credit where it is due, the Maple Leafs played a great game and the Canadiens were just a bit better than the Habs.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Montreal Canadiens, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: carey+price, jaroslav+spacek, maxime+lapierre

Comments

Nordique_'s avatar

Not a bad game for the Habs.

The 3rd and 4th line played well, but the first two lines will have to create more scoring chances.

Two things that stood out for me :

1. Benoit Pouliot is invisible. I don’t know for how long will Jacques Martin be patient with him.

2. Eller played well and has great skills. But, is it just me or the guy was falling way too often on the ice? I’d like him to be a bit more stronger on the puck.

Posted by Nordique_ on 10/08/10 at 11:56 AM ET

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I agree on Pouliot, although the fact he was off the first line after a period and a half was a bit of a headscratcher. And he did help in setting up Halpern’s goal. I find that the most frustrating thing about him is he doesn’t use his size. He’s going to need to go to the net more, and shoot, to make a difference.

As for Eller, I thought he was good, good positioning and some good chances, but he did seem to fall a lot and he shied away from the physical play a few times. All in all I was impressed, but those who think he’s Mats Sundin need to realize he’s not, and he seems to be more of a passer than a shooter. He’s the perfect third line centre on this team, but I hope we get a few more looks of him on a scoring line.

Posted by The Upper Canadien from Toronto on 10/08/10 at 01:31 PM ET

Nordique_'s avatar

Oh, and another thing… as much as I have respect for Darche and Halpern, I think it was an error to send Ryan White back in the AHL.

I think White brings much more than Darche and Halpern.

Give the kid the spot he deserves… he worked so hard during preseason.

Posted by Nordique_ on 10/08/10 at 02:25 PM ET

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I agree on White, I’ve been saying since his first game at camp that he should be on the roster. But I understand why he’s not, as he’ll get much more playing time in Hamilton. And Darche is the perfect 13th forward, he never complains and accepts his role with class.

It’s good to see other players, like Boyd and even Pouliot, playing physical, as they are making White’s absence less noticeable. Pouliot really worked hard last night, he had five hits and created space for his linemates. The future looks bright, with guys like White, Pouliot and Eller to create some room for the smaller forwards.

Posted by The Upper Canadien from Toronto on 10/10/10 at 04:00 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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