Forward lines and defense pairings
Pacioretty – Drouin – Gallagher
Hudon – Plekanec – Lehkonen
Galchenyuk – Danault – Shaw
Byron – Mitchell – De La Rose
Mete – Weber
Alzner – Petry
Davidson – Benn
Joe Morrow, Ales Hemsky, Mark Streit
David Schlemko (hand)
So where do you sit with respect to the Canadiens first three games of the 2017-’18 season? Is it just a slow start or indicative of some concerning issues?
Let’s first acknowledge that the Habs did not give up a goal (or two) in the first minute of the game. Montreal trailed by one at the end of the first period courtesy of a Brady Skjei goal that found it’s way past Carey Price off the skate of Shea Weber.
Mika Zibanejad sealed the game in the third period as Jonathan Drouin lost him in coverage. Early in the game, the Habs had two goals called back after review.
As tweeted by Eric Engels, the Canadiens have not held a lead in any game this season. The season is only three games old, but isn’t that startling?
Last October, the Canadiens set a record for being the first team in NHL history to win at least seven of their first eight games in three consecutive seasons. That streak is over.
We have discussed Marc Bergevin’s defense in previous recaps. But what about his remade offense? The Canadiens have scored just three goals total in three games. Even more concerning is that Max Pacioretty has Montreal’s only even strength goal this season.
In the off-season, Bergevin traded away his only blue chip prospect for Jonathan Drouin, who arrived in Montreal touted as a league superstar and an offensive dynamo. Former Canadiens GM Serge Savard said that Drouin would make the Habs more exciting offensively and suggested that the game-breaking forward could score 40 goals this season.
So far, the Sabres, Capitals and Rangers have been effective in nullifying the Drouin threat at even strength. While his linemates each have a goal, the 22-year-old has yet to score this season.
It’s early, but Drouin is the only off-season move that Bergevin made to address the team’s offensive woes. He was expected to deliver bags full of goals. With the two-highest scoring teams next on the schedule for Montreal, it might be time to start delivering on all of that promised potential.
Right now, there are plenty of other passengers on the team. But they don’t play on the top line. And neither do they have the tools at their disposal.
Two games in Montreal are the perfect formula for getting the team on track. But should the team stumble at home, a western road trip awaits them in the week that follows.
▲ Artturi Lehkonen, Carey Price, Shea Weber
▼ Jonathan Drouin, Jeff Petry, Karl Alzner, Alex Galchenyuk