Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Pre-Season Game 5: Canadiens 3, Devils 2

This should have been an easier win against a Devils split-squad, given that the Canadiens iced a lineup that is largely identical to the one we should see next Monday for the opening game of the season.  A win is a win, we shouldn't look the pre-season gift horse in the mouth, but we would have expected the margin of victory to be more comfortable against the parade of AHL'ers the Devils were giving a look-see.

One thing I noted during the first period is how refreshing it is playing against a team like the Devils, one which prizes hard-work, defence and team commitment, but not goonery and mayhem.  There were a couple of trepidatious mentions about the Devils's fourth line, how it was constituted of goons Krys Barch, Tim Sestito and Cam Janssen, but they played it clean and fair.  There were several confirmed sightings of Brendan Gallagher upright and being allowed to remain so after whistles.  Indeed, when Martin Brodeur would freeze the puck, you'd see two or three Canadiens forwards near him, not interfering or in the blue paint, but close by, ready for a rebound.  And they wouldn't slash and dig at the puck, and in return the Devils wouldn't cross-check, slewfoot, or try to wrench Brendan's head off his shoulders.  The whistle had gone, the play was over.  Once or twice a Devil defender pushed a Canadien forward out further, but again, it was a comparatively civilized shove, hands on the chest, as opposed to gloves in the face or shaft in the teeth.  Footage of this game should be used for the training video for officiating standards in the NHL, if there were such a thing as training videos or training for officials, or officiating standards or standards in the NHL.

I've voiced concerns about how Daniel Brière will fit on the David Desharnais line, but tonight's game provided some reassurance.  Max potted two goals, and the three of them seem to be getting in synch.

Jarred Tinordi again caught my eye, and he is basically forcing his way onto the team.  I at the outset preferred that he be sent back to Hamilton for more development, but he's showing by his play that he is ready for NHL action.  He's not showing flashes of what he could become once or twice per game, but rather playing consistently solid hockey, showing smarts and maturity, and that he's physically ready to stand up to fully-grown men.  He showed confidence with the puck in the offensive zone, and his backcheck and effort when he was caught at the offensive blue line on a Devils rush was extolled by Gaston Therrien on the RDS postgame.

Earlier this summer, when Douglas Murray was signed, I explained that I'd feel more comfortable with Jarred staying up up with le Grand Club now that he wouldn't have to be the sole physical presence on the blue line until December and Alexei Emelin's return.  With Douglas Murray on board, opposition forwards will have two imposing d-men to contend with, and won't be able to key on one.  I'm hopeful that Michel Therrien can mix and match his lineup based on the opponents and injuries, and offer Jarred achievable assignments and reasonable minutes, which based on his handling of Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk last season seems likely.

I was glad that Ryan White got the winning goal, a tip-in of a Jarred Tinordi shot. Whitey gets full marks for winning the draw, then being in the right place at the right time, in position to screen Martin Brodeur and cash in a rebound.

In our haste to make room for Michaël Bournival, who admittedly is having a great camp, some of us are preemptively ejecting Ryan from the roster.  From his time in junior and later in Hamilton, Ryan has been a character player and coach's favourite that teammates love, so let's give the kid a chance.  He's a good option on the fourth line since he can play center and wing, win faceoffs, bang and crash and drop the gloves, and bring a dose of enthusiasm when needed.  Last season was a difficult one for him, he had a couple of on-ice discipline issues, but let's remember that he finished the previous season on IR with a concussion, so he might have still been in the fog like fellow concussees Travis Moen and Raphaèl Diaz.  Let's give these guys a clean slate, and spare a thought for Lars Eller who also took a wallop at the end of last season.  If Lars is struggling early on, let's not climb on his back right away.

And a quick shoutout to new Canuck Yannick Weber, who scored once on a slapper and added a powerplay assist in a 6-1 Vancouver win over the Chapter 11 Coyotes.  Good luck to you this season Yannick.

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