Forward lines and defense pairings
Pacioretty – Mitchell – Gallagher
Hudon – Plekanec – Lehkonen
Galchenyuk – Danault – Hemsky
Byron – De La Rose – Froese
Mete – Weber
Alzner – Petry
Davidson – Benn
Hildebrand (emergency backup)
Michael McCarron, Charlie Lindgren (lower-body), Jonathan Drouin (upper-body), Andreas Martinsen, Joe Morrow, Mark Streit, Carey Price, Daniel Carr, Jakub Jerabek, David Schlemko (hand), Andrew Shaw (neck)
Injuries – prospects
Jeremiah Addison (shoulder), Josh Brook (wrist), Noah Juulsen (foot)
Can we agree that concern is starting to be felt by the Canadiens faithful after their beloved team dropped its fifth straight decision in the pre-season?
Until tonight, for some fans, it was relatively easy to cover the piling losses with the excuse that the Canadiens were icing primarily an AHL lineup. (Of course, there was little recognition that the opposition was doing much the same thing.) But now, several rounds of cuts have been made and the Laval Rocket training camp is underway.
So, for the most part, Claude Julien penned in the NHL regulars when he filled out Monday night’s lineup. Oh sure, Jonathan Drouin was a late injury scratch but those kinds of things happen in the regular season too. Apologists may want to take note that a split-squad from the New Jersey Devils pummeled the Ottawa Senators 8-1.
‘But, repeat after me, the pre-season means nothing.’ Yes, the really desperate excuses started to appear on social media tonight. ‘Remember, the Colorado Avalanche were 6-0 last year in exhibition games!’
Wins and losses, in isolation, are not very predictive, especially over a small number of games in the pre-season. However, how a team is playing, can be meaningful.
And right now, the Canadiens are looking like a team with some major holes. It’s fair to say that Karl Alzner and a large cast of spare parts have done nothing to strengthen the back end following the departures of Andrei Markov, Alexei Emelin, Nathan Beaulieu and Mikhail Sergachev. While Alzner continues to adapt to a new system, Brandon Davidson looks completely bewildered.
Davidson wasn’t the only one who struggled on this night as defensive zone coverage was in disarray.
Victor Mete is the one good-news story on the blueline and as such, the Canadiens will milk it until the end of training camp. But as well as Mete has played, he is not ready for the NHL, especially not in the available slot next to Shea Weber. Expect Mete to be a place-holder until the Canadiens decide if Jakub Jerabek, Jordie Benn, David Schlemko or a rotating cadre of defencemen will fill the skates of Markov.
Up front there was little to praise on this night. Brendan Gallagher played his usual feisty game but didn’t make a smart decision in dropping the gloves with Zach Hyman. Jacob De La Rose had a strong game, making the most of being relegated to the fourth line. Alex Galchenyuk and Tomas Plekanec each were effective in creating scoring chances for their respective lines.
Alex Hemsky shows flashes of skill, mostly on the power-play but then reminds everyone that his better days are behind him. Torrey Mitchell was thrust into centering the Habs top line and struggled badly. Phillip Danault continues to be MIA this pre-season.
The Maple Leafs have a good young team built and coached by the best front office in the league. The Canadiens recent domination of the Buds will be in jeopardy this season.
▲ Jacob De La Rose, Artturi Lehkonen, Tomas Plekanec, Alex Galchenyuk, Victor Mete
▼ Phillip Danault, Karl Alzner, Jordie Benn, Torrey Mitchell, Byron Froese, Brandon Davidson, Al Montoya