PRESEASON #7 – A Flat Finish – Ottawa-3 Canadiens-0 (Sept. 29/2018)

Sep 30th, 2018 | By | Category: Canadiens, Canadiens Game Story, Latest News

In the words of coach Claude Julien, “The Canadiens played their worst game of the preseason.” He also used the word “flat” a couple of times.

Nobody would disagree, certainly Canadiens fans who had to sit through the 2 ½ hour telecast. The inevitable result was a largely uncontested 3-0 loss in Ottawa.

The Canadiens close their training camp with two straight losses and four wins in seven games.

THE BUBBLE

For the veterans in the lineup what happened against the Senators meant meant next to nothing. They’re going to be part of the 23 man roster that will be announced on Monday come rain or come shine.

But there were six players in Julien’s lineup Saturday night who were fighting for the remaining one or two available  jobs.   Not one of them asserted himself enough to break free of the mediocre pack.

ALL SET UP FRONT

Julien said early Saturday that Jesperi Kotkaniemi will start the season with the Canadiens which means twelve forward slots are already set – Kotkaniemi, Danault, Plekanec and Peca at centre; Drouin, Domi, Tatar and Lehkonen on left wing and Gallagher, Byron, Armia and Hudon on the right. Nicolas Deslaurier and Andrew Shaw will start the season on the disabled list. So, barring some kind of trade before the season starts, there are only one or two forward slots available.

NO SURPRISES

Among the forwards going into this game Jacob de la Rose, Michael Chaput, Kenny Agostino and Nikita Scherbak had NHL jobs on the line.

They all laid and egg.

The only shots on goal from the four of them were one each from Chaput and Scherbak. There were only six shots generated from the four, three of them were complete misses.  Each is waiver eligible, so who do you choose to fill the roster’s #13 forward spot?

HARD CHOICE

Chaput at least played physically against Ottawa.

Scherbak had a couple of moments early in the game and then he again disappeared completely.   Again.

De la Rose offered no offense at all.

Among all of them, I liked Agostino‘s overall camp the most of the four.  He also supplied one of the Canadiens only offensive moments when he hit the crossbar in the third period of this game.  But Agostino is a bit of a wild card despite the fact that he was the American Hockey League’s MVP two years ago.

My guess is the final decision will be between Chaput and Scherbak – and Scherbak might survive only because he had some upside last season and there’s hope he could bounce back from his horrid training camp.       UPDATECanadiens ask waivers on Chaput and Agostino Sunday leaving de la Rose and Scherbak in camp..

THE BLUELINE

I’m sorry but I’ve seen nothing that makes me believe that this season’s defence-group is going to be any better than the one that was ranked among the worst in the league last season. The two hopefuls in this game were Xavier Ouellet and Simon Despres.

Despres looked slow and Ouellet managed to screw up twice on the Senators second goal; once when he coughed up the puck at the Ottawa line and again in front of Carey Price.  He also was involved in a third period fight and registered four hits,  two shots on goal and logged a game-high 22:26.

Without DL-bound Shea Weber and David Schlemko the starting six will be Mete, Alzner and Mike Reilly on the left side and Petry, Juulsen and Benn on the right.  My guess Ouellet will get the seventh job by default.

Not much to get excited about is it?

AHEAD

An off day Sunday followed by practices on Monday and Tuesday before the trip to Toronto for Wednesday’s season opener.  The deadline for declaring the roster is 5.00 pm on Tuesday but the Canadiens say we’ll know the lineup sometime Monday.   Outside of Kotkaniemi there won’t be too many surprises.

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