Montreal’s first week of the season looked a lot like how they finished last year. They had plenty of chances but buried few as they started their season with a 1-2 record. Things were better in Laval who had a pair of strong games to open up their schedule with a couple of wins.
Charles Hudon: His first real look with the big club is off to a solid start. I like that he’s aggressive with his shot instead of deferring to his linemates as a lot of young players often do. It will take some time for him to develop more of a quick twitch when it comes to getting a shot off just a tad quicker but considering he has found ways to score in junior and the AHL, he should be able to take that step forward here as well.
Victor Mete: Even after a strong preseason, there was some lingering doubt about whether he’d keep it up or would start to fade against full NHL lineups. Granted, it has only been three games but he looks to be well on his way to passing yet another test. Mete is assertive out there and when he does make a mistake, he hustles back to get back into the play to try to correct it. That’s something that some veteran players ought to take note of.
Mark Streit: The fact that Pittsburgh benched him in the playoffs despite their injuries was a red flag but I thought he could still play a third pairing shift relatively well. However, his own-zone play has been ugly to put it nicely so far. (Yes, when he’s on the Habs are getting more shot attempts but that doesn’t mask how lost and slow he has looked in his own end when the puck is there.) If he wants to stay in the lineup when David Schlemko is ready to return, he’s going to have to make something happen at the offensive end as it’s safe to assume that his defensive zone performance is going to be a negative when he’s playing.
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Shootout – Skaters:
Shootout – Goalies:
Goals: Danault/Gallagher/Pacioretty (1)
Assists: 5 tied with (1)
Points: Brendan Gallagher (2)
+/-: Shea Weber (+1)
PIMS: Ales Hemsky (8)
Shots: Max Pacioretty (13)
Laval’s inaugural weekend in the AHL was a successful one as they took a pair of divisional games against Belleville, Ottawa’s new affiliate.
News and Notes:
- Daniel Carr is not with the team due to a personal matter. There’s no word on when he will return to the team.
- The team signed winger Jordan Boucher to a two-way AHL/ECHL contract and assigned him to ECHL Brampton. Laval also assigned centre Thomas Ebbing to the Beast.
- Unsurprisingly, there is no captain in place to start the season (Max Friberg had the ‘C’ last year). Veterans Chris Terry, Byron Froese, and Matt Taormina wore the ‘A’ in their first two games.
- Lines from last game:
Terry – McCarron – Scherbak
Holland – Froese – Waked
Deslauriers – Audette – Gregoire
Petti – Eisenschmid – Baun
Taormina – Lernout
Jerabek – Leblanc
Parisi – Bourque
Goals: Peter Holland (2)
Assists: Jerabek/Scherbak/Taormina (2)
Points: 10 tied with (2)
+/-: Stefan Leblanc (+5)
PIMS: Michael McCarron (6)
Shots: Markus Eisenschmid (8)
October 13: Binghamton vs Laval
October 14: Binghamton vs Laval
While it’s not all that surprising that there are some defensive issues in the early going (it’s bound to happen with so many new faces in such a short period of time), it is surprising that it’s their longest-tenured defender that is really struggling early on.
When Andrei Markov signed in the KHL without really being replaced, it was clear that management was expecting Jeff Petry to pick up the slack. Not only did he make sense as a partner for new acquisition Karl Alzner, he has also shown flashes of offensive prowess in his career and it’s likely that the expectation was that he’d improve there as well by receiving more opportunities. To put it nicely, none of that has happened yet (or even come close).
In his tenure with Montreal, Petry has had stretches like this where very little goes right but that usually comes later in the year where he’s playing through something or is being overworked and neither of those are the case here. As essentially the number two defender on this team, they need a lot from him and he has yet to deliver much so far (and wasn’t at his best in the preseason either). With no real options to play behind him (he’s the second of two righties on the roster and no one in Laval is ready for top-four duty yet), the Habs don’t have many options other than to let him play through it and hope for an improvement. It’s obviously still early but the Habs need him to really turn it around sooner than later. If not, their defensive makeover may have another level to get to yet.