Brandon Prust scored with just over five minutes remaining to give the Canadiens a come-from-behind 3-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche before a capacity crowd of 15,074 at the Colisée in Quebec City Friday night. Sven Andrighetto and Jiri Sekac also scored for the Canadiens who registered their third exhibition win in as many games and their second in 24 hours against Colorado. Eric Johnson and Ryan O’Reilly scored for the Avalanche. Dustin Tokarski played the entire 60 minutes and stopped 27 of 29 shots. Total shots were 29-25 in Colorado’s favour. The three stars were Sekac, Matt Duchene and Tokarski.
Adding It Up –
Men vs. Boys – It should be mentioned here that while three quarters of the team Colorado put on the ice will be on the ice for their season opener, it’s probable three quarters of the players the Canadiens used in this game will be either in Hamilton or elsewhere on October 8th. As a matter of fact nine members of the Canadiens have never played an NHL game. Predictably, Colorado had the puck most of the night but somehow the kids hung in there and stole a victory.
He’s A Keeper – I think it’s safe to say that Jiri Sekac is going to be one of those on the Canadiens roster for the season-opener. He keeps getting better and better and he was pretty good from the outset. Five scoring chances in this game and he scored the third period goal that tied the game 2-2. He was around the crease a lot more than he was in his first exhibition appearance against Boston on Tuesday which can only be a good thing. Wish he would shoot the puck a little more, but that’s only quibbling.
Goaltender Controversy? – Controversy may be too strong a word but Dustin Tokarski put in a big game and inserted himself right back into that backup goaltender argument. But for his work this game would have gone into the books as a lopsided Colorado win, The Canadiens have three options: Carry three goaltenders, which is never a comfortable situation – Place Tokarski on waivers and watch him go to another team or, make a trade. Tough decision coming.
Still Learning – There is going to be a day when Jarred Tinordi will be a fixture on the Canadiens defense, it’s just not right now. Every good moment he produced in the game seemed to be matched by a poor one. His biggest asset is his size and Tinordi seems reluctant to impose his will at opportune times. That seems to be a confidence issue. As a rule defensive style defensemen take a while to develop. Tinordi is just 22. Been wrong before but, my guess is he’ll start the season in Hamilton.
Stock Rising – While we’re on the subject of the defense, how many noticed Darren Dietz in this game? He came out of junior hockey with a good reputation but injuries limited him to just 34 games in his rookie season in Hamilton. He’ll be returning to Hamilton but he had a very good night defending against the Avalanche.
On the Fence – Gabriel Dumont is what they often call a ‘tweener’, one of those players that is a little better than the AHL but not quite good enough for the NHL. His determination and work ethic will always put him on the emergency recall list but unless there’s an epiphany, he might be advised to start thinking of a career in Europe. I also wonder about the future of Swedish defenseman Magnus Nygren. In Sweden his offense was enough to overcome defensive liabilities. That won’t fly on this side of the Atlantic, at least not at the NHL level.
Other Notables – The all-rookie line of Sekac, Andrighetto and de la Rose were around the puck the entire night. Sekac was only part of their success. Left winger Nick Sorkin has come out of nowhere to earn some respect. Among the few veterans in the game for the Canadiens, defenseman Tom Gilbert, David Desharnais and Brandon Prust stood out. To be expected, left wing Tim Bozon played unremarkably in his first game since his bout with meningitis last March. Nothing spectacular from first round draft pick Nikita Scherbak. He’ll be heading back to junior shortly.
One From the Room – “ This was a tough game for him tonight. He was playing against a very good team with not much experience in front of him. But he battled hard and he deserved the win.” Michel Therrien on Dustin Tokarski
Up Next – Practice Saturday and on Sunday the Canadiens will host the Washington Capitals to close out their intense stretch of four games in six nights. Everyone gets a day off Monday but the coaches who will be sitting down to trim the roster for the final week of exhibition games which will start in Chicago Wednesday. The Habs then close out training camp with a game in Ottawa Friday and back home to play the Senators Saturday.