The Canadiens led 4-0 twenty-two minutes into the game. Thanks to solid-forechecking by the quicker looking Canadiens it was 15:45 before the Capitals were able to register their first shot on goal. At that point the Canadiens held a 2-0 lead and led 3-0 at the end of the first period.
Ten different members of the Canadiens registered points in the game.
We all know what Gallagher and Phillip Danault bring to the party every night.
What has been interesting is the way Tomas Tatar has fit into the scheme of things. Gallagher and Danault each had two points but it was Tatar who was rightfully named the game’s first star. History tells us we should avoid being prematurely excited about his performances. What we may be seeing so far is the “good Tatar”, the player who scored 29 goals for Detroit in his second NHL season. Clearly when he has his mind on it Tatar knows what he’s doing but there have been times in the past where his attention to the game has drifted. The hanging question is whether he’ll find the consistency that’s been missing the last three years. In this camp, so far so good.
BACK TO THE WING
With all of those centres in camp Claude Julien has been using Jacob de la Rose on the wing. De la Rose can be accused of playing the game too cautiously over the last two years. All of his mind has been zeroed in on not making any mistakes defensively. In his appearances so far in camp there’s more confidence and intensity in what he’s doing. Good sign. The goal he scored didn’t hurt either.
THE KIDS –
Jesperi Kotkaniemi draws your eye every time he’s on the ice. Once again there were times when he did things that made the Canadiens draft him third overall. We’ll see how it goes in the final three games next week, but I can see the team seriously considering at least starting the season with him.
Lukas Vejdemo made a nice play to set up de la Rose for what turned out to be the game winning goal. There’s a future there, although it might be a year or two away.
Who were these guys? The Canadiens left Petry, Alzner, Mete, Juulsen, Reilly and Benn at home.
Only David Schlemko among the six who made the trip to Quebec City seemed a serious contender to make the team. The other five were on two-way contracts. Still that defense held the Capitals to only nine shots and two power play goals through the first two periods.
Rinat Valiev had a pretty good game. The Canadiens got him at the trade deadline last February.
The other four were off-season free-agent depth signings to be headed to Laval. Detroit castoff Xavier Ouellett was good against the Capitals.
To my thinking, the best of those two Czech/KHL free agents was Michal Moravcik. However, he and David Skelenicka still need time to figure out the North American game.
The idea in training camp is to turn some heads. The game’s Canadiens defence group did just that.
IS THERE ROOM FOR HIM?
Joel Ward is 37 years old and in camp on a Professional Tryout Contract. Playing with Matthew Peca and Michael Chaput he gave what you might expect of someone with over 700 games of NHL experience. It’s a question of who will be held back if the Canadiens decide to keep him. It’s clear he still has something to offer. The question is where?
The Canadiens have 66 players in training camp. Julien and the coaching staff will make the first round of roster cuts, probably after practice on Friday. Laval training camp opens Monday.
Matthew Domi served the first game of his league suspension of the rest of the preseason for his punch on an unsuspecting Aaron Ekblad Wednesday night. He was given a match penalty for punching Ekblad in the nose in the third period the game against Florida which the Panthers won 5-2. He joins forward Nicolas Deslauriers on the sidelines for the remainder of camp. Deslauriers suffered a facial fracture during a fight Monday night vs. New Jersey.
Saturday night the Canadiens will host the Ottawa Senators at the Bell Centre. They wrap up things with three games next week, Monday in Toronto, home to the Leafs Wednesday and then in Ottawa a week Saturday.