The Canadiens have taken 12 of an available 14 points through their first seven games. It’s not the fastest start by a Canadiens team. That honour goes to the 1961 and 1977 versions of the Habs who, back in the days when games actually ended it ties, took 13 of 14 points (6-0-1) to start their year.
If the Canadiens were to beat the Rangers Saturday night, they would have earned 14 of a possible 16 points to start their season. It’s a remarkable start in this NHL day-and-age but not quite good enough to erase the start the 1961-62 version of the team. In October 1961 they started with 15 points in eight games (7-0-1) but they would be tied in points with the 1943 and 1977 teams, both of which had 6-0-2 starts.
In order to surpass the ’61 team for fastest start they would have to beat the Rangers on Saturday and the Oilers on Monday. That would give them an 8-1-0 record. The ’61 team lost it’s 9th game of the season 3-2 in Toronto to fall to 7-1-1.
The Canadiens best undefeated streaks to start a year include that 1943 season when they opened on an 11-0-3 tear while outscoring opponents 65-27, including a 13-goal win over the Bruins at the Forum. Rocket Richard scored his 50 goals in 50 games that season.
In 1972 the Canadiens were 9-0-4 through their first 13 games. Three of the wins were Ken Dryden shutouts. During that opening unbeaten streak, Montreal outscored their opponents 53-19.
NO CHANGES FOR RANGER GAME
The New York Rangers come in to Montreal Saturday night with an active three game winning streak.
Don’t expect any changes in the Canadiens lineup. The team that practiced Thursday afternoon was basically the lineup that recorded the 3-2 win over the Red Wings Tuesday night.
That means rookie Jiri Sekac is likely to be sitting out his second straight game as Dale Weise remains on the third line with Lars Eller and Rene Bourque.
The Canadiens practice lines Thursday
Extra – Sekac (Bournival & Beaulieu sent to Hamilton for conditioning)
While Alex Galchenyuk is getting rave reviews for his start to the season (7 points in 7 games), number 27 was quick to point out to reporters Thursday that last season he had six points, all assists, in his first four games. Galchenyuk is understandably cautious but we are dealing with apples and oranges. Last year, Galchenyuk rode the coattails of Lars Eller’s fast start. When Eller predictably cooled off, so did Galchenyuk. This season he’s the catalyst, not a passenger on someone else’s hot streak. The remarkable change in his approach has come with experience and confidence,
The Canadiens have six players assigned to junior CHL teams this season.
Worthy of special attention is 2014 first round draft choice Nikita Scherbak who is getting used to new teammates after being traded in the off season to the WHL Everett Silvertips. Wednesday night Scherbak registered a goal and assist in a 4-3 home ice loss to the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs. It was the Silvertips first defeat in regulation time this season. In his seven games with his new team Scherbak has eleven points (5goals, 6 assists) and is rapidly closing in on the team scoring lead despite missing the season’s first three games while at Canadiens training camp. He already leads the team in average points-per-game.
Left wing Tim Bozon, another Canadiens draft pick, has yet to play for the Kootenay Ice. He suffered a ‘lower body’ injury in practice and is listed day-to-day. Kootenay played in Saskatoon Wednesday night and Bozon, who is traveling with the team, took the time to visit Saskatoon’s Royal University Hospital to personally thank the staff who had a hand in perhaps saving his life after his March bout with viral meningitis. Many of them were his guest at Wednesday night’s game Kootenay/Saskatoon game.
Baie Comeau’s Jeremy Gregoire has also not played this season because of injury.
6’4” Defenseman Brett Lernout had two assists Wednesday night as his Swift Current Broncos edged Portland 5-4. In 15 games he has two goals, 6 assists.
Sherbrooke’s Daniel Audette will play Thursday night against Val D’Or. He’s coming off two recent hattrick games and yesterday was named to the Quebec All-Star team that will play two games against Russian Elite Juniors as part of the Subway Series in late November. . UPDATE – Audette added two assists to his total in a 5-3 win over Val D’Or Wednesday night. His season total is now 8 goals, ten assists in nine games.
Michael McCarron’s next game with the London Knights will be Friday at home against the Ottawa 67’s. In the three games since he was activated following a training camp shoulder injury he has a goal and an assist.