PRE-SEASON Game 1: Montreal 3 Dallas 6 (Bell Centre)
MONTREAL, QC. — For the past few weeks Canadiens fans have been dusting off their gear, filling Twitter timelines declaring their excitement, and making the trek to Brossard to pack the Bell Sports Complex.
Today the anticipation was driven to a fever pitch — one mainstream reporter described the mood in the Bell Centre as a “playoff atmosphere.” Was he embellishing? No, it’s been a long summer prompting hockey-starved fans in Montreal to nod and say “That’s about right.”
So with just over nine minutes gone in the first period, and the Stars already holding a 3-0 lead, you can forgive Habs fans for asking, “We waited five long months for this?”
Let’s acknowledge that this is the pre-season, and at that, only the first game. We should expect some rust, a lack of chemistry between linemates, and communication issues. All are normal and fixable.
As Erik Cole said. “We were working out the kinks.”
What is concerning is that the Canadiens were outworked, they were beaten to loose pucks, and they spent the majority of their shifts in the defensive zone chasing Dallas Stars players. Doesn’t that sound familiar? This was particularly evident in the first period when Dallas outshot Montreal 11-to-4.
Head coach Jacques Martin said that his team wasn’t on the puck enough but also criticized his forwards for their play without the disc. The top line of Tomas Plekanec, Erik Cole and Mike Cammalleri were singled out by the coach for not playing as well as their Dallas counterparts.
The Canadiens best stretch of the game came early in the second period where they outshot the Stars 7-2 and scored three times in 4:38. Erik Cole opened the scoring with his first goal in a Canadiens jersey. Jeff Woywitka did his best to salvage a tough defensive night with a goal against his former mates.
But it was Andrei Kostitsyn who would be the best Montreal player on this night. He scored a power-play goal as he snapped it past Stars goalie Andrew Raycroft. Kostitsyn’s linemates Aaron Palushaj and Brain Willsie didn’t offer much help — Palushaj continues to be unimpressive in the pre-season.
Yannick Weber was the best Habs defenseman notching an assist and playing a strong game in his own zone. Weber played almost 26 minutes, and finished the game with a plus-one rating — the only other Habs player on plus side was Jarred Tinordi. It was a solid effort for Tinordi who used his size and reach to fend off Dallas forwards.
In addition to Woywitka, Hal Gill and Raphael Diaz struggled on defense for the Canadiens. Diaz looked lost in the first period and finished the game a team worse minus-three. Diaz’s jitters and poor reads didn’t allow him to play his game which is dependent on good positioning to compensate for his lack of physical play.
Dallas was 37-14 at the faceoff dot including 14-3 in the first period. The pair of Willsie and Engqvist were a combined 2-12 on faceoffs, something that the pair had specifically worked on at practise on Tuesday morning.
Carey Price and Nathan Lawson split the duties in goal. Price gave up four goals with the second Dallas marker being the only one that could be described as soft. Lawson played well and looks to be staking a claim to the number one position in Hamilton.
The Canadiens will feature a different line-up as they face the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night at the Bell Centre. Game time is 7:30 pm.
All Habs game stars
1. Andrei Kostitsyn
2. Yannick Weber
3. Andreas Engqvist
For tonight’s lines, see All Habs GameDay.
All Habs Out Loud
Prefer to rest your eyes and listen to the article? It has been recorded for your convenience. Play below.
Category: Game review