Wow! What a start to the first game of the season for the Montreal Canadiens. They had six shots on goal in the first four minutes and Jack Campbell was good and lucky to keep his team into that game at the time.
Like in a fairy tale, none other than Jonathan Drouin scored the Canadiens’ first goal of the season, on a beautiful feed from his good friend Josh Anderson. Seeing the smile on his face was worth the price of admission… or watching on TV.
But then, a couple of questionable calls from officials allowed the Maple Leafs to gain momentum in the game, scoring the tying goal on the power play. The Habs struggled to regain the momentum and the Leafs, benefiting from yet another questionable call at the end of the third period. Three Leafs were punching Brendan Gallagher when Anderson came to his rescue. In their wisdom, the referees only called a penalty on the Habs’ player, preventing a possible comeback.
It is important to note that while the Leafs were without Auston Matthews, the Canadiens were playing without Carey Price, Shea Weber, Joel Edmundson, Sami Niku, Mike Hoffman and Paul Byron.
Jonathan Drouin scoring was definitely a highlight, but the line he formed with Christian Dvorak and Anderson was by far the team’s best line. In fact, Dvorak will make Habs’ fans forget rather quickly about the departure of Phillip Danault. The line of Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield and Tyler Toffoli had some flashes but weren’t able to get the consistency they would have liked. Jake Evans showed some good things but overall, that line with Brendan Gallagher and Joel Armia was outmatched most of the game. Gallagher had his best moments away from that line in the third period. Jake Allen kept his team in the game and as predicted here before, goalies will have to stand on their head for the Habs to have a chance.
With the exception of Dvorak, other centers had an awful night in the faceoffs circle. Here’s how it played out in game one:
- Dvorak 54%
- Suzuki 41%
- Evans 25%
- Paquette 0%
The biggest issue was the defense. They simply could not break the Leafs’ cycle and get the puck to the forwards. While having Joel Edmundson in the line-up would help, it simply won’t be enough to make a big difference. Unless Bergevin finds a way to acquire a right-handed top-4 defenseman for the second pair, this team will be struggling to get pucks out. It was clear last night that the team missed Shea Weber.
The Sabres tonight
If there’s a silver lining for playing back to back nights to open the season, it’s to play the second game… in Buffalo. Without Jack Eichel, the Sabres should be scrubbing the bottom of the NHL again this year in hope for a good Draft pick. If the Canadiens can win tonight, they will have split their first mini-road trip prior to heading home in front of a packed Bell Centre against the New York Rangers on Saturday. For many Habs players, even those acquired a year ago, it will be their first chance to play in Montreal wearing a Habs’ uniform in a packed house.