Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Thoughts on the Canadiens first pre-season game

I write this during the midpoint of the second period, as both teams are warming up their backup goaltenders.

The Cammalleri-Plekanec-Cole line is dominant, but so is the Ryder-Ribeiro-Morrow line. It's not hard to see that there is still quite a jump between Junior Major and AHL players and established NHL'ers.

All the players that we fall in love with during the summer and early training camp and hope they can be a pleasant surprise during the season (Brock Trotter, Mike Blunden, Alain Berger) are all showing a need for seasoning in the minors. Aaron Palushaj isn't remarkable. Jared Tinordi is as advertised, a safe keep-it-simple defenceman.

Andrei Kostistsyn's eruption in the second period will not serve to sate the appetite of Canadiens's fans. If anything, it will only increase the pressure on him to maintain that superior level of performance.

Ian Schultz's fight with Mr. Wathier is the kind of nonsense that could easily be eliminated from the game of hockey.

Yanick Weber and Raphael Diaz are an intriguing defence pairing, like candy for hypoglycemic Montreal fans. Weber is creative but can make mistakes, but has shown the mobility to minimize the damage when he goofs.

As the game ends, we can agree that of the youngsters, the defencemen Diaz, Weber and Yemelin were the most NHL-ready. Jeff Woywitka seemed to be missing a step at first, but either he improved or I warmed up to him as the game went on. I liked his positional awareness during his goal, he found an open spot and created his goal by being available for his one-timer. None of the forwards aside from the established players made enough of an impression to warrant a second look. The roster on the forwards side seem as set as before camp started.

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