Forward lines and defense pairings
Tatar – Danault – Gallagher
Hudon – Kotkaniemi – Lehkonen
Chaput – Peca – Ward
De La Rose – Vedemo – Alain
Ouellet – Despres
Moravcik – Schlemko
Valiev – Sklenicka
The Canadiens have now played three pre-season games after hosting Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and the Hershey Bears at the Videotron Centre. With the first roster cuts expected on Friday, players are starting to separate themselves.
Artturi Lehkonen continues to be the most consistent forward in camp scoring tonight on a nice feed from Brendan Gallagher. If there was any question that Gallagher would end up on the Canadiens first line, he silenced that with a goal and an assist in Quebec City.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi has shown glimpses into his potential but would be well-served to be returned to Assat at the end of camp. Jacob De La Rose unleashed a wicked wrister for a goal tonight following up on a strong performance against New Jersey. Michael Chaput is an AHL player who will be counted on in Laval to replace some of the offense lost with the departures of Chris Terry and Adam Cracknell.
Matthew Peca was uncharacteristically quiet against the Capitals after being the talk of training camp. Other than benefiting from a gift by Mackenzie Blackwood against the Devils, Charles Hudon has been mostly invisible. Joel Ward may be a NHL player somewhere but he does not fit into the Marc Bergevin’s blueprint of getting quicker and younger.
There should be far more open spots on defence but with Claude Julien playing favorities, it may not play out that way. One thing is clear, the Simon Despres experiment should end. Despres has been dreadful in camp. Against the Caps, David Schlemko also struggled, losing foot races and puck battles and putting up double digit numbers in turnovers.
Xavier Ouellet may have the inside track for the 7th or 8th spot on defence but suffers from frequent mental errors. Rinat Valiev and Michal Moravcik are interesting options and could sneak in to grab a spot with additional strong efforts.
Charlie Lindgren played the entire game in goal against Washington. Although he wasn’t busy facing just 14 shots, Lindgren did make several solid saves and did not give up an even-strength goal. Perhaps his best stop was against Axel Jonsson-Fjallby on a breakaway. With Niemi having a bad outing in his half game against the Panthers, the backup position remains up for grabs.
There was just over 11,000 in the seats tonight at the Videotron Centre. While folks in Quebec City claim they want an NHL team, the disappointing attendance sends the opposite message to Gary Bettman.
▲ Artturi Lehkonen, Brendan Gallagher, Jacob De La Rose, Michal Moravcik, Charlie Lindgren, Phil Danault
▼ David Schlemko, Simon Despres