Saturday, 1 October 2011

Pre-Season Game #8: Montreal 5, Tampa Bay 1

Aaaaah, that feels much better. We saw a near-NHL-lineup on the ice for the Canadiens, and the veterans seemed to understand that it was time to get going. The team played with more resolve and authority. Having a legit goalie in our net helped as well.

There were nice moments. It was cool to see Jaro Spacek contribute offensively, and that all-around good guy Mathieu Darche benefited. Seeing both acknowledge each other was great. Also great was the sheepish look on Scott Gomez' face after his ping-pong ball goal, and Andrei's beaming smile also, before he reactivated his cloaking device and disappeared for most of the game. Obviously Steve Downie's sensors are of the finest quality, since he managed to find him for a bullspit fight. Mr. Downie must have some modesty, he could have chosen Mr. Desharnais to pick on, but instead targeted a middleweight. Of course, Mr. Downie could claim to have the colour of right, since he was avenging a very late hit by Andrei, whose low hockey IQ was in evidence again.

Encouraging signs from the lethal Erik Cole, who will hopefully snap quite a few wristers like tonight's during the regular season. He will be able to accomplish what Benoit Pouliot could not, provide a fast and physical presence on the top line with the ability to finish. Scott Gomez is showing that his conditioning program is paying off, his upper-body strength is obviously improved, based on the shots he took. Last year, his shot was his last option, and it was a fluttering floater that goalies would pluck out of the air as they stifled a yawn. Tonight he took a wrist shot from just inside the blue line that was legitimate. He also is no longer routinely curling east-west when he crosses the offensive blue line, he now sometimes goes to the net.

Aaron Palushaj finally showed signs of life, showing speed and driving to the net. Unfortunately, Andreas Engqvist couldn't do the same. He should have been checking Vincent Lecavalier on the lone Tampa Bay goal. Granted, that's a tall order, but it should be something he can accomplish since he comes advertised as a defensive specialist.

We also saw good things from the Campoli-Gorges combo, these two complement each other quite well. They're not bruisers, but they are sure-handed with the puck and get it out of the zone quick. We can only hope that Mr. Campoli is not injured badly.

I heard the Antichambre denizens calling Ryan Malone a goon, to which I have to disagree. He played like the biggest baddest dude out on the ice, which he was. We would welcome such a player on our team. My impression is that he's a good player who committed a dirty play and will pay for it, but he's not a habitual offender. I also heard them say the Canadiens need some big tough players who can play hockey. If only we could find a Rod Langway and Mike McPhee on the waiver wire, we'd be set.

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