Joel Ward broke a scoreless tie with 1:29 remaining in the third period and Brooks Laich added an empty net goal as the Washington Capitals defeated the Canadiens 2-0 Sunday evening at the Bell Centre. It was the first loss in four exhibition games for the Canadiens in the pre-season. Shots on goal in the game were 31-18 in jWashington’s favour. The game’s three stars were Carey Price, Washington defenseman John Carlson and Alex Galchenyuk.
Adding It Up –
No Jump – There is always a point in camp, no matter how much summertime pre-preparation, when teams seem to hit the wall. This seemed like one of those nights. The Canadiens skated a lot, worked hard and accomplished little offensively. Whatever they generated was sporadic and at the end of the night the telling statistic was their 18 shots on goal.
The First Star – Carey Price was in top form for this game. Lesser mortals would have allowed four or five goals. Of the 29 saves he made, seven were of ‘grade A’ calibre. He was especially good in the third period on first Alex Ovechkin from the slot and then Niklas Backstrom on the rebound. Price thinks he still needs two more starts to get into shape for the season. We’ll bow to his judgment, but he already looks ready to go.
Back At Centre – Alex Galchenyuk centred two thirds of what is considered the Canadiens top line. Once again he didn’t look out of place. The Canadiens didn’t put together much of what you might consider a cohesive offense. What little of it seemed to have been generated when Galchenyuk/Pacioretty and Parenteau. Galchenyuk won 7 of the ten faceoffs he took but on the right faceoff dot in the offensive zone, Parenteau took the draws and he was successful five of six times.
Match Penalty – Jarred Tinordi, who is in a tough fight to make the Canadiens didn’t need this one. Early in the third period he came across at his own blueline and leveled defenseman Nate Schmidt. Tinordi is 6’6”; Schmidt is six inches shorter. Tinordi was given a five minute elbowing major and game misconduction. The replays showed Tinordi’s elbow was down but, importantly, there was a clear blow to the head. You might argue the elbowing call, but when there’s a size difference such as this one, the bigger player has to take some responsibility in much the same way that a player is responsible for his stick.
The Rookies – There were three rookies in the game; Tinordi, Christian Thomas and Jiri Sekac. ……Before his game misconduct Tinordi took two bad penalties. His confidence level seems to be badly shaken. Nobody would be surprised if the Canadiens send him to Hamilton to straighten out his game. Against a more seasoned NHL team, Thomas took a step backward. The speed was there, but little else. He didn’t attempt to take a shot in his 14 shifts. It’s been an interesting ride but ultimately he’s another one destined for Hamilton. Sekac also failed to register a shot playing with Eller and Thomas. But he’s piled up enough brownie points to survive a night like this.
Eyecatchers – …..Alex Galchenyuk was given third star but the forward that impressed me the most was fourth-liner Dale Weise. Playing with Manny Malhotra and Travis Moen, it just seemed that Weise accomplished more than anyone else. …..Tomas Plekanec also had a pretty good night at both ends. He took eight shots, three on-goal. ……. After a couple of so-so outings, Alexei Emelin seemed to get it together. Part of his night’s work, a game-leading seven hits, including a classic open ice hip check on Andre Burakovsky. He also blocked three shots.
Ahead – A day off for the Canadiens Monday while the coaching staff wrestles with roster cuts. We should expect three or four, which would bring the training camp roster down to 23 or 24 entering the final three pre-season games in Chicago Wednesday, at Ottawa on Friday and home to the Senators on Saturday.