The pre-tournament action for the World Cup of Hockey has come and gone with most of Montreal’s representatives making a strong impression. Here are our grades for the exhibition games.
Carey Price: B-: The most important thing with Price is that he looks healthy out there. He’s undoubtedly rusty but he has shown no hesitation to go out and play the puck and has gone post to post several times with ease. His first game against the US was nothing to get excited about but he improved in his second outing against Team Russia in an overtime victory. His overall numbers aren’t the greatest but so far, so good in terms of showing he’s going to be good to go to start the regular season.
Stats: 2 GP, 1-1 record, 2.44 GAA, .900 SV%
Shea Weber: B: Pretty much every Montreal fan was watching him a lot more closely than they ever had before as it was their first look at him since the trade. For the most part, he has handled himself well alongside Marc-Edouard Vlasic. His physicality has stood out – particularly since these are exhibition games – while his shots have been more than just the slappers from the point everyone knows quite well. His passing hasn’t been the sharpest but his mistakes have been in safer areas at least.
Stats: 3 GP, 0 points, -2 rating, 6 PIMS, 3 shots, 7 hits, 6 blocks, 3 giveaways, 65:23 total TOI
Team Czech Republic:
Tomas Plekanec: A: The Czech captain has been one of their best players in each game while tallying a goal in each one including the tying goal and the winning goal in their two victories. He logged a high amount of minutes for exhibition games which is likely a sign to come when the meaningful contests get underway. Plekanec isn’t Montreal’s most talented player in this tournament but he’s the most important Hab to his team.
Stats: 3 GP, 3 goals*, 0 assists, +1 rating, 4 PIMS, 14 shots*, 1 hit, 2 blocks, 1 giveaway, 57:26 total TOI
* – Tied for the most among all pre-tournament players
Alexei Emelin: B-: He doesn’t seem to have as big of a role as I thought he would but he’s sticking to his strengths. In other words, he has done well at hitting people and hasn’t done a whole lot either way outside from that. He has spent time on his off-side, something he hasn’t done in a couple of years which could potentially come in handy with Montreal as well. Russia’s back end isn’t the most physical so Emelin should have a steady role in this tournament as the intensity picks up.
Stats: 2 GP, 0 goals, 1 assist, even rating, 4 PIMS, 0 shots, 7 hits, 0 blocks, 0 giveaways, 34:44 total TOI
Andrei Markov: B: For me, the highlight of Markov’s pre-tournament action was the fact they gave him a game off. In a season where he’s going to still have a big role with Montreal, any time off they can give the veteran is a good thing. Markov was steady in his two early games but has yet to find chemistry with his linemates with the man advantage (he played with Emelin at even strength). Russia has the fire power to have a lethal power play; if Markov can set their snipers up in the right spot at the right time, look out.
Stats: 2 GP, 0 goals, 1 assist, even rating, 0 PIMS, 3 shots, 2 hits, 5 blocks, 0 giveaways, 37:42 total TOI
Max Pacioretty: C: It’s never a good thing to have your buttons pushed after a pair of tune-up games which is what happened with Pacioretty after John Tortorella stated he was expecting more from Montreal’s captain. In his defence, he spent a decent chunk of time in the first two games on a physical energy line which isn’t his type of game. Against the Finns, he was moved up to the third line and made much more of an impact. If he struggles early in the real games though, he could be pulled from the lineup quickly having drawn Tortorella’s ire once already.
Stats: 3 GP, 0 goals, 1 assist, +1 rating, 0 PIMS, 4 shots, 4 hits, 2 blocks, 1 giveaway, 37:22 total TOI
The tournament gets underway for real on Saturday with the preliminary round ending on Thursday. At that time, the field drops to just four teams and they will be down to just two by the end of next weekend. As a result, the Habs will have some of their players already sent back before they even get their preseason started on September 26th.