A friend of mine wrote on Facebook, shortly before the season opener, that he was looking forward to the following day’s consensus that a) the Habs would definitely win the Cup this year; or b) the Habs suck and everyone should be traded.
Two games into the season and we’ve seen both versions of Les Glorieux.
The undisciplined, at times lethargic group that leaves their goaltender out to dry against Toronto, and the focused, responsible bunch that keeps shots to the outside and presses on offense against Philly.
The team now heads west on a Canadian tour that will see them play a back-to-back beginning tonight in Calgary and Edmonton before heading to Vancouver, and stopping at Winnipeg on the way home.
This road strip is important. Maybe not season defining, but important.
Montreal plays in the toughest division in hockey and the Senators look like they just might be for real, while Boston and Detroit maintain their status of being Boston and Detroit. Meanwhile Toronto looks like it may have a goaltender that could actually start on other professional hockey teams.
But we don’t play any of those teams until November 7 (Ottawa). So it will be crucial to grab as many points as possible before we really get into those crucial inter-division swing games.
Montreal Canadiens Road Ahead
It’s not unreasonable to say we go 4-0-0 on this road trip.
Calgary (1-0-2) probably has four more points than most people expected them to have this early in the season. They’re in a rebuilding year. Everyone knows it. That being said, they’re averaging four goals a game, so it will be key to keep them out of our zone and to pin them in theirs, where their lack of a true number one goalie has resulted in giving up just over four goals a game.
Edmonton (1-2-0) still looks an awful lot like Edmonton. Really great on paper, not so much on the ice. While they finally figured out it’d be a good idea to draft a defenceman they still haven’t addressed their real problem: goaltending. The Oilers give up five – yes five – goals per game. Peter Budaj will get his first start of the season in this game, it’d be nice if he could get off on the right foot towards a repeat of last year’s 8-1-1 backup effort.
Vancouver (3-1-0) should be the toughest test. The Canucks may be a shadow of their former selves, but they’re still a playoff team in the West if Luongo can keep his composure. Price is 3-1-1 career against Vancouver (Luongo is 10-12-3-2 against Montreal) and will get the start Saturday night against his hometown crowd. This matchup will be high-paced out of the gate. Montreal will need to stay disciplined and get off to a quick start. An early hole would be a death sentence on the west coast.
Winnipeg (2-1-0) is the last stop and could be a game Habs players gloss over, especially if they have a strong showing in the first three. Montreal took all three matchups against the Jets last year, scoring four goals in each contest. Look to see that continue in Winnipeg.
The EGG line continues to be the one to watch as Eller, Gallagher and Galchenyuk continued their strong start in Philly. The line has a combined 5G 7A +8 with Eller leading the way with 5 points (3G, 2A). Expect to see those numbers climb, especially as Max Pacioretty (and therefore his line) is eased back into the lineup.
Montreal Canadiens Puckdrop is at 8:00PM (EST) in Calgary tonight. Go Habs Go!