Forward lines and defense pairings
Pacioretty – Drouin – Lehkonen
Galchenyuk – Danault – Hudon
Byron – De La Rose – Gallagher
A. Shaw – Froese – Scherbak
Mete – Petry
Alzner – Juulsen
Reilly – Benn
Nicolas Deslauriers, Logan Shaw, David Schlemko, Daniel Carr
Ales Hemsky – concussion, Shea Weber – lower-body, Carey Price – concussion
It was so quiet at the Bell Centre.
Part of the reason was just how empty the arenas was on Wednesday night. On-ice conversations were easily heard.
And there weren’t really many opportunities for the incompetent game presentation staff to fill the building with the usual ear-splitting cacophony of sounds. The game proceeded quickly going long stretches, sometimes seven and eight minutes, without a whistle.
There had to be some astonishment, as well, at what the folks were seeing on the ice. Clown shoes. There is no other description for the first period.
Three shorthanded breakaways for the Islanders on the same penalty? The teams abandoning the notion of defensive responsibility? It was like a pond hockey game at a considerable upcharge.
In the end, the Canadiens took advantage of weak goaltending by Jaroslav Halak and a lazy defensive effort by the Islanders. In turn, the Habs received inspired performances from their young players: Nikita Scherbak, Jacob De La Rose and Artturi Lehkonen.
With the playoffs out of sight, the bar is set low. Fans are looking for a sign of hope for the future. It is why the Canadiens should be using the final 19 games to give the youngsters the experience that will be valuable next season.
Post-game Claude Julien lamented his lineup choices given the current roster and a desire to recall a few players from Laval. Perhaps his boss should have been more active at the trade deadline in what was an obvious sellers market.
▲ Nikita Scherbak, Jacob De La Rose, Artturi Lehkonen, Antti Niemi