Tyler Toffoli – Nick Suzuki – Cole Caufield
Jonathan Drouin – Christian Dvorak – Josh Anderson
Joel Armia – Jake Evans – Brendan Gallagher
Mathieu Perreault – Cedric Paquette – Artturi Lehkonen
Brett Kulak – Jeff Petry
Ben Chiarot – David Savard
Alexander Romanov – Chris Wideman
Jake Allen – Samuel Montembeault
Alex Belzile, Adam Brooks
Joel Edmundson (undisclosed), Carey Price (player assistance program), Paul Byron (hip), Mike Hoffman (lower-body), Mattias Norlinder (lower-body), Sami Niku (concussion), Shea Weber (multiple injuries)
The Canadiens regular season is underway. And what a pace to start this game!
Montreal came out flying pushing the play with the defence fully activated supporting the scoring threats. Brett Kulak had an early chance being the feature shooter of an unlikely set play. Later in the period it was Kulak creating a turnover and Josh Anderson assisting on Jonathan Drouin‘s first goal of the season.
But then the Canadiens ran into penalty trouble and the Leafs power-play cashed in. Toronto fed off the momentum of the goal and carried the play in the second period.
Just one minute into the third period, William Nylander took a shot that fooled Jake Allen and the Leafs had a lead that they would not relinquish. The Habs had a golden opportunity to tie the game five minutes into the third period. But they managed just one shot on goal during a 1:44 5-on-3 power-play.
The good, the bad and the ugly (it’s the power-play)
So what about the new look Montreal Canadiens? Fans were promised more offence but the Habs managed just one goal on the night. Fans were promised a group of centres that would win more draws. Toronto dominated the faceoff dot all game. Fans were promised two strong, creative power-play units. The Canadiens were horrendous with the man advantage tonight.
But there were bright spots too. Cole Caufield was a threat each time his line was on the ice. The Canadiens weren’t spending an inordinate time in their own zone and the defence was joining the rush. Montreal’s second line, their best tonight, will be fun to watch.
Expect that third defensive pair to be an adventure until they get comfortable with each other. And putting Kulak on the Habs top pairing is playing with fire. Montreal looked like a team that was forcing things and that has the potential to unravel very quickly.
Faceoffs were an issue. Christian Dvorak led the way but after him, the rest of the Canadiens centres were underwater: Nick Suzuki – 41%; Jake Evans – 25%; and Cedric Paquette didn’t win a draw all game. It should be noted that Ryan Poehling (currently in Laval) led all Habs centres in the pre-season with a 58% success rate.
The Canadiens headed to Buffalo following the game and will face the Sabres for their second game of the season Thursday.
▲ Jake Allen, Artturi Lehkonen, Christian Dvorak, Jeff Petry, Cole Caufield
▼ Cedric Paquette, Brendan Gallagher, Jake Evans, Mathieu Perreault, Alexander Romanov