Forward lines and defense pairings
Galchenyuk – De La Rose – Byron
Pacioretty – Danault – Shaw
Hudon – Plekanec – Gallagher
Deslauriers – Froese – Carr
Benn – Weber
Alzner – Petry
Jerabek – Schlemko
Victor Mete, Joe Morrow
Ales Hemsky – concussion, Nikita Scherbak – knee, Al Montoya – concussion, Artturi Lehkonen – lower-body, Jonathan Drouin – flu
Ripe for the picking. That was the way many described the visitors on Thursday night.
The Flames were on the back half of games on consecutive nights having taken the Leafs to a shootout before losing 2-1 on Wednesday night. Calgary was going with David Rittich in goal, making his second start of the season. Those starts added to a relief appearance and one start last season comprise Rittich’s complete NHL resume.
And then there is the intimidation factor of the venerable Bell Centre for visiting teams. The so-called most knowledgable fans in the game seated below all of those Stanley Cup banners should make this a very difficult place to play a road game.
So why didn’t the game play out according to script?
Simply, the Flames outworked the Canadiens. Calgary was better on the boards, they were first to more pucks and they drove to the net. For the most part, the Flames were able to impose their will in the Canadiens zone.
But the Flames aren’t the Blues. The Canadiens are also a middle of the road team. So Montreal had its moments and were able to stay in the game when occasionally straying from their perimeter attack.
Max Pacioretty and Daniel Carr were the few Canadiens who were willing to regularly take the play down low. With Jonathan Drouin on the shelf and Alex Galchenyuk tethered to the bench, the Canadiens offence did not generate enough quality scoring chances despite Ridditch giving up a steady stream of rebounds.
The game energy came in spurts. With an inconsistent performance from both teams, this game felt like a match between two non-playoff squads.
▲ Daniel Carr, Carey Price, Max Pacioretty
▼ Alex Galchenyuk, Phillip Danault, Jakub Jerabek