Saturday, 12 September 2015

NHL Rookie Tournament: Canadiens 6, Maple Leafs 4

Notes on the Canadiens prospects win over the Leafs prospects:

-- Bozon scores a powerplay goal to give the Canadiens the lead 2-1 early in the second. Johnson has an assist and Scherbak (I think).

Jamal Watson had a shorthanded unassisted goal late in the first.

Mike McCarron tuned up a Leaf who threw a big hit on Charles Hudon earlier in the game, had plastered him in the glass.

Brett Lernout was face-to-face with a baby Leaf (Nikolas Brouillard) who gave him a punch shove, then a slash. Bad idea. The Canadien didn’t quite land anything, but just kept feeding him so many rights, his poor victim was begging for a left.

I guess Connor Crisp is up next?

-- Nikolas Brouillard none the worse for wear, walks in from the blue line and wrists one in halfway through the second.

Michaël Joly scores one seconds later, on a rush poorly defended by Travis Brown and Josiah Didier.

3-2 Leafs.

-- Connor Crisp ties it up 3-3. Scherbak fed it to Hanley at the blue line, he snapped a shot to the net which Connor Crisp tipped in. The goalie never saw it coming, Mike McCarron was in front of him blocking his view.

Good to see the kids doing what they should.

-- Period ends 3-3. Nervous final minute, Brett Lernout took a holding penalty in his zone, then Jérémy Grégoire took an undisciplined penalty in the offensive zone on a break with Jamal Watson, crosschecked Nikolas Brouillard into the goalpost after the whistle. I guess that kid is getting under the Canadiens’ skin.

With the Canadiens down five-on-three for 20 seconds, they win the faceoff and clear the zone, kill off the two-man advantage.  Mike McCarron wins the next draw in his zone and shields the puck, drains off the last few seconds until the period ends.

I like the character and toughness the Canadiens are showing, it’s contrary to past years, as it’s been described, when the Leafs would thug the Canadiens’ prospects with older, bigger players, but our boys can’t go over the line.

-- The Rogers crew is doing a pretty good job with the play-by-play and analysis. I was expecting a homer show focusing on the Leafs, but they’re actually pretty even-handed. They have good notes/knowledge of the Canadiens’ prospects, they can tell the viewers who Tim Bozon or Donald Audette is, they’re not just focusing on the Leafs and Mike McCarron.

You can tell that sometimes they have to refer to their lineup sheet, they’ll say “And the defenceman will be going off on a penalty… (pause)”

[Number of the player comes into view]

“…that’s Brett Lernout who is called for hooking.”

So hats off to Todd Crocker and Bob McGill for a good call of the game.

-- Third period.  Beautiful goal by Charles Hudon during 4-on-4 play. They rushed the Leafs zone, who scrambled and coughed up the puck. Ryan Johnston sent a pretty backhand pass through the slot to Charles who buried it into the open net.

4-3 Canadiens with 11 minutes to go.

-- Dalton Thrower adds another seconds later, now 5-3.

McCarron and Grégoire on the chip and chase, digging in behind the Leafs net, the pucks pops free to Dalton Thrower who was sneaking in from the blue line. He stickhandled into the slot and backhanded a shot in.

-- Nikolas Brouillard floats one in from the blue line that sneaks behind McNiven, who’s had a good game regardless.

5-4 Canadiens, with 3 minutes left.

-- Charles Hudon out to defend 6-on-5 to kill off the clock, scores the empty-netter to seal it.

Canadiens 6-4, final.

-- Hard to really voice an opinion, I was watching the game on a small window on my computer, but here are some broad impressions.

-Mike McCarron looked large and in charge, wearing the ‘A’, trusted by Sylvain Lefebvre to take the important draws in the defensive zone.

-His line was a notch above, he and Nikita Scherbak caught the eye on a few occasions. Nikita has two assists, Connor Crisp scored a goal. Nothing to get excited about though, they weren’t dominant, just the best Canadiens line.

-Nikita Scherbak is eye-candy, but late in the game stickhandled the puck back towards his defenceman in the offensive zone, the Andrei Kostitsyn move, instead of keeping it deep and protecting the lead.

-I liked the way the team stood up for itself, there was team toughness, but also some gentlemanly play, our boys weren’t goonish. Good job.

-Mike McNiven had a good game in goal, faced a lot of shots, looks big and confident out there.

-Dalton Thrower started slowly but turned it on late, it’s like he realized he should be the leader out there, a couple years older than most.

-Different-era Leafs, no Colton Orrs or Tyler Biggses. Nikolas Brouillard is very small for a pro hockey defenceman, but he was noticeable out there, confident with the puck, not giving an inch, taking a beating and coming back out not cowed by it. Tip of the hat.

Tomorrow, we crush the Sens and their mini-Grybas.

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