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With a tough schedule to start the season, not much was expected from the Habs.  However, they put forth very strong performances in both games and while they fell just short in their opener, they got a much better result to end their week.

The Week That Was

Oct. 3: TOR 3, MTL 2 (OT) – Claude Julien’s surprising decision to sit veterans Karl Alzner and Tomas Plekanec paid some dividends as Montreal’s extra speed in the lineup made a difference against a quick Toronto team.  Despite the Canadiens dominating the third period, they weren’t able to get that elusive third goal and giving a team that has as much high-end firepower as the Maple Leafs do is never a good idea.  Auston Matthews got the winner just past the one-minute mark of the extra frame to start Montreal’s season on a losing note.

Oct. 6: MTL 5, PIT 1 – The Canadiens came out strong once again and this time were rewarded with a much better result.  Pittsburgh didn’t have their best of games but the Habs did well to not give them too many opportunities to get momentum.  Paul Byron had a pair of goals, the second of which came shorthanded and really took the wind out of the Penguins’ sails.

StatPack

Skaters:

# Player GP G A +/- PIMS SOG ATOI
8 Jordie Benn 2 0 0 +1 0 1 16:02
11 Brendan Gallagher 2 1 0 +1 0 6 16:43
13 Max Domi 2 0 3 +1 2 3 16:12
15 Jesperi Kotkaniemi 2 0 1 +2 4 5 14:38
24 Phillip Danault 2 0 1 +1 0 3 17:18
26 Jeff Petry 2 0 2 +2 0 4 22:45
28 Mike Reilly 2 0 0 +3 0 4 21:44
40 Joel Armia 2 1 0 E 0 7 17:35
41 Paul Byron 2 2 2 +4 0 5 14:49
53 Victor Mete 2 0 0 E 0 0 18:44
54 Charles Hudon 2 1 0 E 0 3 9:40
58 Noah Juulsen 2 0 0 +2 0 3 20:14
61 Xavier Ouellet 2 0 0 -1 2 3 15:04
62 Artturi Lehkonen 2 1 2 +1 2 4 16:59
63 Matthew Peca 2 0 0 -1 0 1 10:54
65 Andrew Shaw 2 1 1 E 0 4 13:03
90 Tomas Tatar 2 0 1 +1 0 7 16:19
92 Jonathan Drouin 2 0 0 -1 2 2 16:56

Goalies:

# Player Record GAA SV% SO
31 Carey Price 1-0-1 1.98 .917 0

Team Leaders:

Goals: Paul Byron (2)
Assists: Max Domi (3)
Points: Paul Byron (4)
+/-: Paul Byron (+4)
PIMS: Jesperi Kotkaniemi (4)
Shots: Armia/Tatar (7)

News And Notes

- Alzner’s benching in the season opener snapped a 622-game ironman streak (in the regular season).  This was the fourth-longest among active players and the 12th-longest all-time.  Speculatively speaking, if they’re comfortable benching him now, would they consider putting him on waivers when David Schlemko returns?

- Nicolas Deslauriers has resumed skating with a full cage after he underwent surgery to repair a facial fracture sustained in a fight during the preseason.  However, there remains no firm timetable for his potential return.  Meanwhile, Jacob de la Rose was scheduled to undergo further testing late in the week to determine how much more time he might miss following an irregular heartbeat at the end of the final preseason game against Ottawa.

Last Game’s Lines:

Tatar – Danault – Gallagher
Drouin – Kotkaniemi – Armia
Byron – Domi – Lehkonen
Hudon – Peca – Shaw

Mete – Petry
Reilly – Juulsen
Ouellet – Benn

The Week Ahead

Oct. 11: LA vs MTL – The Habs will have their home opener against a Los Angeles team that has a bit more firepower this season.  Although they’re missing Dustin Brown (who quietly put up 61-points last year to finish second in team scoring), they have a healthy Jeff Carter after he missed most of last year as well as Ilya Kovalchuk who has returned from the KHL.  On the flip side, they’ll be without Jonathan Quick who was placed on injured reserve.  From Montreal’s perspective, there are a pair of questions: Will Julien insert one of the veterans or keep the lineup the same?  Also, will TSN actually bother showing the player introductions this season? 

Oct. 13: PIT vs MTL – It’s a rematch of Saturday’s game with the Habs on home ice.  It’s safe to suggest that Montreal won’t be catching Pittsburgh off guard this time around and the game should be a lot more closely contested.  Like the Habs, the Penguins have only one other game this coming week on Thursday so they’ll undoubtedly be looking to shore up their defensive play after allowing 11 goals over their first two games of the season.

Final Thought

Normally, this spot would be reserved for some commentary about the Habs but this week, I’d like to highlight something else.  HabsWorld entered its 15th year of existence over the weekend and as someone who has been with the site that entire time, I wanted to take a moment to thank all of our writers and readers for your support over the years.  We wouldn’t still be here without you.