LAVAL, QC. — The Canadiens are coming off a 4 -3 overtime loss to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday. The Habs had a 3 – 1 lead after 20 minutes of play, but for the second consecutive game, their energy level went down in the second and third period.
Montreal has four wins in their first seven games, and are in a race for the top spot in the Atlantic Division. I wasn’t expecting the Habs to be close to that position at any point of the season. Two of the three opponents that the Habs are facing this week are division rivals, so the standings can change quickly.
Here are my top 5 takes of the week:
- Extra bodies – Earlier in the week, Jacob De La Rose was placed on waivers and was picked up by the Detroit Red Wings. I’m not supportive of losing a valuable player without getting nothing in return, but I don’t think that the Canadiens will miss De La Rose in the long run. With Tomas Plekanec on injury reserve, it gives some extra time before a decision needs to be made to clear a roster spot. Even though it wouldn’t be my choice, I think Nikita Scherbak is the next one to hit waivers. Scherbak is still waiting to play his first game of the season, and it would make no sense that Claude Julien would have him sit out for such a long time, if Scherbak was still part of the organisation’s future.
- Empty seats – Monday night’s game at the Bell Centre was played in front of announced crowd of 20,323. That means that the game wasn’t played in front of a sell out crowd for the first time since January 2004. We had signs that this was coming during the second half of last season, as many fans who had paid for their tickets stayed home instead of going to the game. Geoff Molson was concerned about the apathy announcing an intention to facilitate an improved fan experience for this season. The M2 Marche-Montreal, a high-end food court inside the Bell Centre, was opened this month to deliver on the promise of better food. University Nights have also been introduced for Tuesday night home games that allows students to get a ticket and a beer at a reasonable price. Even though the product on the ice is what matters the most, I think those are well planned initiatives by the organization that, in my opinion, have taken its fans for granted over the last decade.
- Team attitude – “Attitude” was the buzzword that all Habs fans were sick of hearing since the end of the last season. Marc Bergevin said that it was his job to fix it and as of right now, I will give him credit for doing it. We have seen several times this season, players sticking up for their teammates. Just this week, we saw Xavier Ouellet drop the gloves to defend Jonathan Drouin, and we saw Jesperi Kotkaniemi get physical when goaltender Carey Price was roughed upduring Saturday’s game in Ottawa. I wonder if Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk were distractions in the dressing room last season.
- Defence – One of the concerns of the team heading into the start of the season was their blue line, especially with Shea Weber missing significant time due to injury. In the November 5th edition of The Hockey News, they rank the Canadiens defence as 29th best in the league. Mike Reilly and Noah Juulsen have been my favourites so far. Victor Mete has struggled so far. Karl Alzner has played two games so far this season, and to my eyes, he can’t keep up.
- Plekanec milestone – I think that the organization did a good job honouring Tomas Plekanec‘s 1000 NHL game. Marc Bergevin and Geoff Molson both wore turtle necks as they presented Plekanec with his gifts. I couldn’t figure out why Guy Lafleur went on the ice for the presentation, and my only conclusion was that they added Lafleur to make sure Molson and Bergevin were not boo’ed by the crowd during the ceremony.
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