So here are my thoughts on the 5-2 win against the Capitals, courtesy of Canadiens Express, the condensed version of the game brought to us by RDS, which I can thankfully still enjoy.
1) I still think 21 is the wrong number for Stefan Matteau. That's Doug Jarvis' number, or Guy Carbonneau's number. It should be worn by Torrey Mitchell or Phillip Danault. Stefan Matteau should have the 32 in honour of Claude Lemieux, or 36 for Sergio Momesso, or 39 for Brian Skrudland.
These things matter.
2) Nice powerplay goal by Greg Pateryn. He has an under-the-radar shot, which we don't hear too much about from him, and appeared as if by magic in Hamilton, after four years at Michigan where he'd score a couple goals a year at best. Really compact backswing, gets it off quickly, and it's hard and precise.
Actually, the goal is awarded to Alex Radulov, but the comments about Greg Pateryn still stand.
3) And now Nathan Beaulieu gets into the act, sneaking in on goal and cashing in a cross-crease pass by Alex Radulov. Again, both Nathan and Greg Pateryn looked very comfortable on the powerplay, with Greg acting as a rightie Andrei Markov, sneaking up to the faceoff circle, going for a little wander, controlling the puck well and making crisp passes.
2 PP goals, 1 goal and 1 assist each for Nathan Beaulieu and Alex Radulov, and Greg Pateryn has two assists.
2-0 Canadiens. Sunshine and rainbows...
4) After a Capitals goal, Paul Byron gets a partial breakaway and dekes the puck in. He's playing on what I think will be the fourth line at the start of the season, with Torrey Mitchell and Phillip Danault. Lots of speed and perseverance and effort, and two centres, one rightie and a leftie. It's an almost ideal setup really.
3-1 Canadiens, and Zachary Fucale takes over in goal from Al Montoya.
5) Mike McCarron, who had a nice turn on the powerplay acting as a drive-in movie screen for the Caps goalie, is now buzzing around the Washington zone with Stefan Matteau and Charles Hudon. Nice work guys.
6) Torrey Mitchell scores, top corner, on the powerplay, on a nifty pass from Phillip Danault. And another feed from Nathan Beaulieu.
Again, I'm impressed with Nathan Beaulieu, who just before this stood up to a Capital (Walker?) and apparently delivered a few crosschecks to keep him at bay, but didn't accept the invite to drop the gloves. Which is fine, there's no need for fisticuffs during exhibition games Nate, we have bigger plans for you.
We've been hoping, since The Trade, that Nathan can be the leftie partner for Shea Weber, since he's mobile and could play big minutes, that young buck. But it's good to see some evidence that this may be so, that it's not a mere pipe dream.
7) I guess special teams consultant Craig Ramsay's teachings from last year are starting to sink in, this powerplay's more like it.
8) Okay, here's where the NHL becomes the NHL, and wallows in being the NHL. Jay Beagle, at the 17:20 mark of the second period, does a blatant, brazen slewfoot on Andrew Shaw, who falls back violently enough that I'm not sure he didn't hit his head, that he didn't see stars. I'm glad, upon replaying it, that he wasn't concussed, or suffer a skull fracture if his helmet had shifted on him like Donald Brashear's.
Andrew Shaw picks himself up, looks around at the refs, as play continues, and is surprised no penalty is called.
I'll allow that the refs didn't see the slewfoot. What would be really easy though would be if this action was reviewed on video, along with a myriad of other dangerous acts during a game, and punishment was meted out afterwards. It would be like photo radar, it wouldn't stop you from actually speeding, but it would deter you, out of the concern you'll get caught and fined later. Players wouldn't spear or slewfoot or marchand if they knew they couldn't 'get away with it' when the refs are looking elsewhere.
Even better, a video ref should be used during the game, as rugby does very effectively, to immediately punish transgressions.
But as I said, this is the NHL, the refs are blind, and so is justice, and not in the good way, so players believe they must take matters into their own hands.
9) So what does Andrew Shaw do? He gets his own justice, and stamps Caps defenceman Connor Hobbs into the boards from behind. The kid is knocked out for a few moments, so as he lies prone on the ice Andrew solicitously prods him awake with a few crosschecks to the back.
a) The NHL doesn't care about player safety, despite the meandering meaninglessness on the subject by Gary Bettman.
b) As a fan of the Canadiens, this isn't my cup of tea, but I understand what Andrew Shaw is trying to do. It's a little bit of the Brandon Prust "There's a new sheriff in town" bravado. He understands what Marc Bergevin got him and Shea Weber for, to make the team less of an easy mark, to make the Canadiens 'harder to play against'. So he goes tit for tat, and then has to take on Nathan Walker who wants to avenge his teammate, and the Wheel of NHL Lunacy keeps on rolling. Andrew Shaw easily wins this fight, gets in a few extra shots to make Nathan Walker pay for trying to get at Nathan Beaulieu a couple minutes earlier, but not before egging on the crowd during the fight, enjoining them to cheer louder. Shawzy then yells at the Capitals bench as he's removed from the ice by the officials, probably making arrangements for cabs to Chez Parée after the game.10) I don't think Lars Eller would have reacted in quite this fashion exactly to the slewfoot by Jay Beagle.
11) I'm ever so confused by the horde of Canadien forwards with a number in the fourties on their back. I'm barely able now to keep straight in my mind the defencemen with a seventy-something on their sweater, and they've been here for years now.
This is going to take me weeks.
12) So this seals it, after another sequence in the offensive zone where he nearly set up Jérémy Grégoire for a goal a couple of times, Nathan Beaulieu gets my First Star of the game, and my boosterism the rest of camp.
13) Until he messes up and the fair weather turns. At which point Twitter and I will be merciless.
14) At 13:45 of the third, Nate does the Andrei Markov trick, baiting an opponent into trying a pass into a wide-open space, at which point he darts in and cuts off the pass. It nearly sets up Jérémy Grégoire for a goal in the ensuing sequence.
I know, I know, I'm gushing...
15) Byron to Hudon to Mitchell on a break, tic-tac-goal. Greg Pateryn started off the play with a quick breakout, and joined the rush to make it a 3-on-1.
16) Darren Dietz trying to goon lilliputian Paul Byron. You're no longer one of the good guys, Darren, so "Booooooooo!"
17) Fly in the ointment: Greg Pateryn and Nathan Beaulieu are dinged for a goal against on the penalty kill, so they're not actually perfect, completely.
So an easy win against what will surely be a putrid Washington team based on this result. It's all over now but the wait for a possible Andrew Shaw suspension, which I can tell right now will be grossly unfair, since it's the Caps' Hobbs who caused this by failing to protect himself, and the Caps Jay Beagle who started the whole thing, and the Caps' Nathan Walker who was trying to cause trouble all game and found it.