Before we get too excited, Lars Eller has played only two games this season. Still, his start caught the attention of the NHL in New York Monday. Their selection panel made him a close second in voting for NHL Star of the Week behind Washington’s Alexander Ovechkin.
Eller is tied for second in league scoring in both goals (3) and points (5). He has had a part in five of the Canadiens seven goals to date. He had three points opening night against Toronto and had the game winner plus an assist Saturday against Philadelphia. Ovechkin has one more goal and point than Eller, but he played three games last week to Eller’s two.
A two-game sample size is not the time to discuss trends but, at this point the Desharnais/Briere/Pacioretty-Prust line is looking more like a third line than a dependable offensive producer. And the fact that they got only 13 minutes of ice time Saturday night indicates the Canadiens coaching staff is thinking along the same lines. Although they haven’t produced on the level of the Kid Line, led by a rejuvenated Rene Bourque and a healthy Brian Gionta, the Tomas Plekanec trio has put in two excellent two-way games as well.
The absence of Pacioretty didn’t help against the Flyers, but off what we saw through training camp and the opening game, there seems to be a chemistry problem and lack of “compete” from the Desharnais line. Desharnais seems to be the current whipping boy but that may be an over-simplification. The coaching staff will give the unit the rest of the month to get their act straightened out. Don’t know what they can do if they can’t get it together by then. Bournival? Briere back to centre? Breaking up two successful lines to satisfy the needs of the one that’s struggling, doesn’t seem to be a sensible option.
……….Max Pacioretty skated in a no-contact jersey with his teammates Monday before the team caught their afternoon charter flight to Calgary. The injury seems to be to his left wrist/forearm which, as a left hand shot is less problematic than if he shot from the right side. He’ll make the trip with his teammates and be a game time decision Wednesday against the Flames.
……..After practicing Monday morning, team captain Brian Gionta didn’t travel to Calgary with his teammates. He left the Canadiens charter while it was in the boarding process when informed that one of his sons had been hospitalized. He is expected to be in Calgary in time for Wednesday’s game.
………George Parros, recovering from a concussion, remained at home along with defencemen Douglas Murray and Davis Drewiske.
………Peter Budaj is going to play one of the four Western games. Smart money would be on the Edmonton game Thursday; the second night of the first back-to-back games of the season. The Canadiens will play games on back-to-back nights on sixteen occasions this season.
………There’s some talk now that Alexei Emelin might return to the Canadiens lineup as early as November. Estimates originally he him back with the team in mid-December. He underwent major knee surgery in May.
Monday’s Practice Lines
17-Bourque – 14-Plekanec – 21-Gionta
8-Prust – 51-Desharnais – 45-Briere
27-Galchenyuk – 81-Eller – 11-Gallagher
32-Moen – 49-Bournival – 53-White
79-Markov – 61-Diaz
26-Gorges – 76-Subban
24-Tinordi – 55-Bouillon