Tyler Toffoli – Nick Suzuki – Jonathan Drouin
Joel Armia – Jake Evans – Brendan Gallagher
Artturi Lehkonen – Ryan Poehling – Raphael Harvey-Pinard
Michael Pezzetta – Mathieu Perreault – Alex Belzile
Ben Chiarot – Chris Wideman
Kaiden Guhle – David Savard
Alexander Romanov – Gianni Fairbrother
Samuel Montembeault – Cayden Primeau
Cole Caufield (shoulder), Cedric Paquette (groin), Joel Edmundson (undisclosed), Carey Price (knee), Paul Byron (hip), Mike Hoffman (lower-body),Mattias Norlinder (undisclosed), Sami Niku (concussion)
The Canadiens had a good start to the game with Joel Armia spearheading the forecheck to create a turnover. Ben Chiarot shot the puck to the net and Armia deflected it for the game’s opening goal. Armia has been Montreal’s best forward by far in the pre-season.
For the next 57 minutes the Maple Leafs were in full control of the game dismantling the Habs defensive zone coverage with ease. With 24 shots on goal, Toronto had more shots in the first period than the Canadiens mustered the entire game. It is the third game in the pre-season that the Leafs have dominated Montreal in 5-on-5 play.
Newly-acquired goaltender Samuel Montembeault was welcomed with a barrage of 44 shots through 60 minutes. Montembeault was sharp early fading a little as the puck totals increased. Dominique Ducharme thought that Montembeault played well under the circumstances but gave up one or two soft goals.
That said, Samuel looked calm and confident from the start of the game. Cayden Primeau has not had a good training camp. He has been shaky in both practice and game action. Primeau would be best served to work out his struggled in Laval.
Centre Ryan Poehling will get one last chance on Thursday night to earn a spot on the opening night roster. Much of the Montreal media have already made up their minds; in fact their narrative was written before anyone stepped on the ice for the start of training camp. It appears there is a competition to frame Poehling’s training camp performance in the harshest negative light.
The truth is that Poehling has played solid, responsible two-way hockey. Consistently throughout training camp, Poehling’s lines have generated more scoring chances than they have given up, considerably so. Poehling has also been a leader in faceoff percentage for Montreal during the pre-season.
It’s not flashy nor dynamic, but Poehling has done enough to earn the fourth line centre spot despite the ravings of the crew in the press box.
A struggling veteran
Through five pre-season games, the Canadiens are giving up too many scoring chances. From Cayden Primeau to Jake Allen to Sam Montembeault, the goaltending has not been stellar but the netminders are facing too many high quality shots.
The play of David Savard has been concerning. While Savard played a highly-sheltered role in Tampa Bay effectively, more will be expected of him in Montreal. And in doing so, Savard’s shortcomings may be exposed.
Defenceman Chris Wideman has done a good job at locking up the vacant spot on defence. Wideman can be effective moving the puck out of the defensive zone and can be a key part of the Habs power-play.
The Canadiens returned to Montreal after the game and will host the Ottawa Senators for the final pre-season game on Thursday.
▲ Joel Armia, Ryan Poehling, Artturi Lehkonen, Raphael Harvey-Pinard, Brendan Gallagher, Chris Wideman
▼ David Savard, Alexander Romanov, Mathieu Perreault, Michael Pezzetta, Jonathan Drouin, Gianni Fairbrother, Tyler Toffoli