In a game that was hard to watch due to the complete lack of cohesiveness on both sides of the puck, the Habs made it interesting in the final minutes before ultimately coming up short in a 2-1 loss to Toronto on Friday night.
We’re trying a different postgame format this preseason. Let us know on the message board or on Twitter if you like or dislike this format.
Montreal’s ‘B’ squad dressed to face an exhibition version of the Maple Leafs. The team lined up as follows:
Armia – Monahan – Anderson
Pearson – Evans – Gallagher
Roy – Beck – Ylonen
Mysak – Stephens – Parker-Jones
Harris – Mailloux
Xhekaj – Lindstrom
Beaudin – Barron
Here are ten thoughts from the 2-1 loss:
1) After a strong-ish start to the game, the Habs fell on their heels in the second half of the opening period. The second and third periods remained a rather even matchup, even though it was a pretty dull affair overall.
2) Cayden Primeau is such an in-betweener. He played the first period like a young man who was perhaps seeking a waiver claim and a second chance at an NHL career. Unfortunately for him, the two goals he let in the second weren’t great. They weren’t terrible, but they weren’t great. Then, he settled and was solid the rest of the way despite needing some post help on two occasions.
3) If Sean Monahan looked excellent next to Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki earlier in the week, it was a different story playing next to Josh Anderson and Joel Armia. In his defence, most players have looked lost next to Armia over the last two seasons. In one of the only shifts where they looked coherent, Monahan won two puck battles after Armia did his best to give it away. He then found Anderson in the slot to make the game slightly more interesting late.
4) If the power play was horrendous, the penalty kill was excellent as Jake Evans, Arber Xhekaj, and Logan Mailloux were particularly aggressive on the puck carrier. This is an aspect of the penalty kill I really hope they add to their repertoire all season long.
5) For the last few seasons, some fans keep going on about Jesse Ylonen getting an opportunity. He played quite a bit last year and I feel like if he gets to start in Montreal over Rafael Harvey-Pinard, it will be because of contract status and not due to merit. I just don’t see anything there.
6) Tonight’s fourth line really understood their assignment. They won’t start in Montreal, but Mitchell Stephens and John Parker-Jones likely made it so that Coach Marty likely remembers their name should the injury bug hit the team hard again this season.
7) I mentioned the power play earlier and man, was it ever terrible. They were outscored and out-chanced handily in this game. I get that most of the team’s primary scoring weapons weren’t dressed, but you’d think some players would want to give good showings to potentially get a look in that situation once the games matter.
8) Xhekaj played his game on this night, offensively contributing by keeping plays alive and being physical every single time he could. He does struggle with gap control in the neutral zone often, but his reputation appears to already be made in the league and players respect him the minute they are around the Montreal net. Crazy to think how young he is and how long the Habs can keep him on the ice as an important physical presence.
9) Justin Barron is playing far too relaxed for a player who is essentially in a battle to start the season in Montreal. Unless it’s that he’s playing far too nervously? Either way, he looks as lost as he did in last year’s camp. Where is the Barron that finished the season in Montreal? Disappointing.
10) In this lacklustre performance by the Habs, Joshua Roy’s play with and without the puck has to be the stand-out positive. Having said that, his shyness to use his shot showed too much respect for the players around him. It’s a sign of immaturity in his game and the main reason I believe he still needs to start the season in Laval. But boy is there ever promise in this young man that I truly hope he develops in the next few years.