|Game 2, Away Game 2 | Saturday October 7, 2017
Capital One Arena, Washington, DC.
Forward lines and defense pairings
Pacioretty – Drouin – Gallagher
Hudon – Plekanec – Lehkonen
Galchenyuk – Danault – Shaw
Byron – De La Rose – Hemsky
Mete – Weber
Alzner – Petry
Benn – Streit
Torrey Mitchell, Joe Morrow, Brandon Davidson
David Schlemko (hand)
During the annual Montreal Canadiens golf tournament, Marc Bergevin confidently claimed that the defense he had assembled for 2017-’18 was better than the previous year.
When the Canadiens lost six games straight to start the exhibition schedule, the refrain was ‘the pre-season is meaningless.’
And when the Habs squeaked out a shootout victory to a mediocre Buffalo team on opening night, some insisted ‘a win is a win.’
But Thursday’s win did not erase the fact that the Canadiens surrendered 45 shots on goal to the Sabres and were bailed out by Carey Price. The ‘meaningless’ pre-season revealed gaping holes in the line-up and concerning trends in the style of play. And even Bergevin-apologists were hard-pressed to justify his praise of the defence after the departure of Andrei Markov, Mikhail Sergachev, Alexei Emelin and Nathan Beaulieu.
The Canadiens GM has stated that his team can never have too many defenceman. But like a cheap buffet, more are not always better. Bergevin has stocked the organization with bargain-basement defenders and the results are telling.
For the second game in a row, the Habs were around the 40-shot mark. Once again, Montreal controlled play for long stretches. The puck-movement on the Canadiens power-play was dazzling. For Corsi-devotees, Montreal dominated.
But none of that mattered.
Because the Canadiens defence is not good enough. Being down by two goals in the first 46 seconds and three before the three minute mark of the game is too deep a hole with a Vezina-winner at the other end of the ice.
Before too long, Claude Julien was swapping defence partners like it was the second game of the pre-season. Well, at least Habs fans can look forward to the return of David Schlemko soon. Certainly he can solve all of the problems on defence.
And what to do with Mark Streit?
Perhaps Streit can join Cristobal Huet in Lausanne, Switzerland to continue his career. Clearly, Streit should not play one more game for the Montreal Canadiens. If he does, it will only be evidence of the stubbornness of a general manager who made a dreadful decision in signing him in the first place.
But Streit wasn’t the only bad move. While in that buffet line, Bergevin also picked up Joe Morrow and Eric Gelinas. And if he had his druthers, Chris Neil would be a Canadien.
After Bergevin failed to sign Andrei Markov, Elliotte Freidman said “I think he’s sitting on something.” Rather than bringing back Markov to have a premiere top-pairing, Elliotte speculated, ” I think he’s dreaming big.”
Dreaming big? On having an improved defence and being ‘all-in’ for a Stanley Cup, Habs fans think that their GM is just dreaming.
▲ Tomas Plekanec, Artturi Lehkonen, Charles Hudon, Shea Weber, Brendan Gallagher
▼ Mark Streit, Jordie Benn, Jeff Petry, Karl Alzner, Ales Hemsky, Phillip Danault
|NHL Three Stars|
|Post-game Press Conference|
|Coach Claude Julien
Quotes courtesy of NHL.com
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