Forward lines and defense pairings
Lehkonen – Desharnais – Andrighetto
Carr – McCarron – Hudon
Matteau – De La Rose – Scherbak
Addison – Audette – Terry
Sergachev – Petry
Beaulieu – Pateryn
Barberio – Redmond
Yury Alexandrov, Guillaume Asselin, William Bitten, Simon Bourque, Tim Bozon, Matthew Bradley, Paul Byron, Connor Crisp, Phillip Danault, Josiah Didier, Alexei Emelin, Jake Evans, Bobby Farnham, Brian Flynn, Max Friberg, Zachary Fucale, Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher, Jeremy Grégoire, Joel Hanley, Hayden Hawkey, Arvid Henrikson, Ryan Johnston, Noah Juulsen, Nikolas Koberstein, Konstantin Korneev, Andrei Kruchinin, Brett Lernout, Mark MacMillan, Andrei Markov, Michael McNiven, Victor Mete, Torrey Mitchell, Al Montoya, Max Pacioretty, Tom Parisi, Michael Pezzetta, Tomas Plekanec, Carey Price, Alexander Radulov, Martin Reway, Philip Samuelsson, Andrew Shaw, Andrei Sidyakin, Casey Staum, Colin Sullivan, Dalton Thrower, Maxim Trunev, Lukas Vejdemo, Shea Weber
Habs fans were in a snarly mood. Their team was listless for much of the game. Fans pointed to a mostly opening-night lineup iced by the home team. And there was plenty of venom on social media aimed towards Sportsnet’s focus on the Leafs.
Some of the annoyances were justified. Having said that, the SN broadcast was simply aimed at their primary audience. Leafs talk on RDS is just as sparse, even more so. And the Leafs had a lot of youth in their lineup. It just so happens that the Canadiens have nothing like Auston Matthews. Mitch Marner and William Nylander are pretty good too.
And maybe it also has something to do with the Maple Leafs having the best head coach in hockey behind the bench. With the likes of Brendan Shanahan, Lou Lamoriello, Mark Hunter and Jacques Lemaire looking after things, the dismal Leafs are on the right track.
So maybe Canadiens fans were a wee bit snarly (and envious), because their hockey operations folks were trotting out marginal NHL’er David Desharbais as the first line centre. Desharnais has been coasting through training camp as if he is certain that his roster spot is secure. Sure, David picked up an assist at the end of third period, but this was after flailing about to no effect on a 6-on-3 and 6-on-4 advantages. This also followed his sleep-walk through the first 59 minutes of the game.
Icetime for the Leafs young skilled players was Marner (17:13), Nylander (17:49) and Matthews (18:23). On the other side, Charles Hudon was on the ice for 11:49 and Nikita Scherbak played just 7:24. Post-game, Michel Therrien said that he didn’t like Scherbak’s compete level. With that description fitting so many players, including some veterans, why single out the most skilled forward prospect?
Desharnais had more than 71 per cent of his zone starts in the offensive zone. Fans are quick to criticize the lack of offense from Jacob De La Rose but tonight, he received just over 16 per cent of his zone starts in the offensive zone.
The point is that the organization will continue to hinder the development of their prospects. The head coach will continue to play his favorites and the general manager will continue to stock the team with veteran bottom six forwards.
Watching this method of stunted development can be frustrating. It’s particularly frustrating at this time of the year when much of the fan enthusiasm revolves around watching young talent making the jump to the big team.
▲ Artturi Lehkonen, Greg Pateryn
▼ Mark Barberio, David Desharnais, Stefan Matteau