In this first preseason game, many unproven players created an interesting match in Quebec City’s Centre Vidéotron on Monday night but it was the Bruins who came out with the 3-2 win. Amongst these included Noah Juulsen, Antoine Waked, and Daniel Audette. Unfortunately for fans, neither team was dressing anything close to their regular roster and it showed early as each team took three minor penalties, breaking any semblance of rhythm. Jeremy Grégoire started the parade to the sin bin with an ill-advised offensive zone penalty, but Riley Nash let him off the hook with a faceoff infraction. Byron Froese and Jacob de la Rose were then sent sitting by the officials, but the penalty kill came up big and kept the Bruins off the board.
At the other end, Montreal’s man advantages came nearer the end of the period without ever threatening Malcolm Subban’s net. Éric Gélinas particularly struggled through the first period, as he looked somewhat lost in defensive zone coverage. Other struggling players included Grégoire and Froese. Positively, Joe Morrow looked very involved in the play as he got the period’s best chance as he fired a shot off the crossbar. He was aided by Paul Byron, who earned several looks in prime scoring positions. However, the best Canadien in this period was without a doubt Brett Lernout. Lernout was physical, well positioned, and made intelligent plays with the pucks too.
After a scoreless and rather quiet opening period for both teams, the second was a whirlwind of action as both teams got on the board. In the opening seconds of the period, Brendan Gallagher cashed in from his usual position on the ice (with his toes in the blue ice). A little over a minute later, Gélinas and Noah Juulsen showed some nice poise with the puck to find a streaking Michael McCarron. With both Grégoire and de la Rose around the net, McCarron put the puck on the net and the rebound hit Grégoire to put the Canadiens up by two. Once Montreal had the lead, they would hit another two posts as Gélinas and Byron both struck iron.
The lead would then evaporate in a matter of minutes (three to be exact) as Morrow was guilty of a brutal defensive zone giveaway which allowed Jesse Gabrielle to be left alone in front of Al Montoya and cut the lead in half. Morrow would not recover from this play as he was rather erratic for the rest of the night. The Bruins then found themselves on the man advantage when Anders Bjork fooled a cheating Montoya on a goal that would make fans cringe if this was the regular season. This is unfortunate for Montoya who had otherwise played an excellent game to that point.
With the score tied, Alex Galchenyuk was guilty of an absolutely atrocious giveaway during a power play which sent Tim Schaller in on new goaltender Zach Fucale. Schaller found the back of the net rather easily as Fucale played the angle horribly. Considering the game situation here, the blame goes to the NHLer Galchenyuk rather than the ECHLer Fucale. Galchenyuk came back hard the next shift only to give the puck away in what was a clear opportunity for him to shoot the puck. On this same shift, he’d eventually make-up for his ill-advised passes and find Gallagher in the high slot and he smacked Montreal’s fourth post of the night. Near the end of the period, Boston continued to apply pressure until Lernout made his presence felt again with some solid positioning and timely hits in the defensive zone. Struggling players this period: Galchenyuk, Morrow, and the goaltenders. Positive players were Jeff Petry, Lernout, and Gallagher.
The third period was mostly as quiet as the first in both scoring and scoring chances. The Bruins seemed content to defend their one-goal lead while Claude Julien was giving plenty of ice time to youngsters Grégoire, Audette, and Waked. The Bruins would eventually open the door when ex-Husky Jérémy Lauzon crashed into Fucale to offer Montreal a 5-on-3. The Habs applied a good amount of pressure, only to have a few broken sticks skewer some good zone time. Eventually, Gélinas and Galchenyuk both failed to get solid contact with pucks that would have meant cashing in some excellent chances created by Petry and Gallagher. In the end, the Bruins escaped unscathed. In the final minutes of play, Andrew Shaw played the pest in a situation that really didn’t call for it, bringing forth some terrible memories from last season. Here’s hoping the coaching staff irons this from his game sooner rather than later.
HW Habs 3 Stars of the Night
(Note: Detailed statistics were not available.)
1st Star: Brett Lernout – Lernout may be limited to a ceiling that places him on an NHL third pairing, but he might be very close to being there. Intelligent defensive coverage, timely hits, hard hits, and a physical presence who isn’t afraid to play as such in front of his own net are all aspects of Lernout’s game that were on full display this evening. He even made some solid breakout passes when he had enough time to avoid the bank off the glass. If the coaching staff saw the same things I did, Lernout is sure to get more game action once more regulars are inserted into the lineup.
Stats: At least 3 hard hits in the corners.
2nd Star: Brendan Gallagher – Gallagher scored the first goal of the preseason for the Canadiens, but that’s not really why he’s the second star for the Habs on this night. Gallagher does so many little things right consistently that he earns every bit of ice time he gets, even in a preseason game: Knowing when to be the pest (his little jabs at the end of the second period), and when to focus on hockey really separate him from a player like Shaw, playing the perimeter game on the man advantage and almost feeding Galchenyuk an empty-netter, and most importantly, winning board battles and never saying quit on a play. There is absolutely no denying the level of effort provided by Gallagher on any given shift.
Stats: 1 goal, 1 SOG
3rd Star: Michael McCarron – McCarron has always understood that his physicality will be an important attribute for him to stick at the NHL level. Tonight, McCarron was physical, but he was also smart in his use of his physicality. His ability to shelf the goon game when required allowed him to create some scoring chances offensively, as he earned an assist on Grégoire’s tally but also created some scoring chances for de la Rose and Alzner later in the game.
Stats: 1 assist, 1 SOG, a couple well-timed and bone-crushing hits
Honourable Mention: Noah Juulsen – While Morrow was flashier than Juulsen when making good plays (in the first period), he was also much scarier when making bad plays (the rest of the game). Juulsen played a poised and effective game overall. He was paired with Gélinas and looked to be more aware defensively than the veteran. He also made a smart and simple play that allowed the Habs to score their second tally. While there are no expectations of the youngster starting the year in Montreal, here’s hoping Julien finds it valuable to get him some significant ice time when the rosters start filling themselves with NHL talent.
Stats: 1 assist, 1 SOG