There are three ways to see things, in occurance with the Canadiens final pre-season matchup against the Senators. I employ the word "see" with journalistic liberty as I didn't get to actually take in the game on televison or online. Catching tonight's contest on radio makes for an odd way to assess performances.
So speaking in general terms, tonights 5-4 OT loss to what is supposed to be the strongest team in the Eastern Conference is hardly the worst way to end the preseason schedule. Outshooting them 39-22 is a bonus considering three key elements left aside by Montreal, Koivu, Kovalev, and Markov.
In all regards, it appears that the Habs were beaten by Daniel Alfredsson's hat trick. Perhaps not being able to match up lines, and present the scoring threats that are Koivu and Kovalev, allowed coach Carbonneau to test different players against the most solid of lineups.
I gets harder and harder to get what Guy's thinking at times - more on that later.
The goaltending duo of Huet and Price faced 22 shots and allowed 5 goals, which is troublesome at first glance. Maybe the quality of the shots says more than the quantity here.
Carbonneau initially stated that the goalies used in the final games would start the season with the team, and Halak was expected to be given the nod for the backup role tonight. Low and behold, surprise of surprises, the coach seems to have changed his mind on Price, and the earlier statements concerning where he would begin the season.
Given that Price has gently outplayed Halak and has been dressed for the final two tilts does this mean he's won the job? It looks so to me.
Of the players who needed to perform well tonight in order to stick with the team, Mihkail Grabovski has finally hit the scoresheet with a pair of assists. He seems to have found cohesion with Andrei Kostitsyn, and Kovalev, and by all accounts when the trio is paired together ( wait...can't pair a trio together, but it's getting late!) sparks tends to fly. It seems that they will be given time.
If there's a battle at center between Maxim Lapierre, Kyle Chipchura and Grabovski to make the team, then Max was one upped tonight. He received less than 10 minutes of ice tonight - the lowest of any Habs player. Not a sign I like. It does not look good for him. Maybe Max just looks too much like Carbonneau in smartass grin mode?
Andrei Kostitsyn, with a goal and an assist will be getting much love from the Bell Centre faithful this season.
Three of the Habs four goals were scored from the blueline. Interesting that they have firepower there still beyond The Lost One. It could however be too early to draw conclusions.
Back to the shots on goal stat in coalition to the outcome - wasn't it the Canadiens who were winning games while being outplayed like this about a year ago? Odd, isn't it?
Perhaps the loss of The Player They Let Get Away will actually help tighten up the teams defense. Hell if they can hold the Senators to a decent amount of shots, they should fare even better against other opponants.
That might begin right of the faceoff circle. Checking the game line, I noticed that four centers took a total 56 of the 60 faceoffs in the game. Grabovski won 75%, Smolinski 59%, Chipchura 53%, and Plekanec 44%. Begin, Ryder, and Kostopoulos were a combined 1 for 4 on others. Too bad there isn't a puck possession stat to give creedence to the notion that winning faceoffs eventually renders more shots on goal. Of course this is obvious in offensive zone faceoffs, but one can draw their own conclusions here.
I like it that both Grabovski and Smolinksi held an upper hand, while Chipchura was more than accountable it that department. Koivu's usual 50% at best will of course temper this stat somewhat in real games.
Having mentioned three goals from the backline being a good thing, add in 19 shots on goal as well - almost half the team's total. The Canadiens dressed seven defenseman, sitting out only Markov and O'Byrne, whose Hamilton fate seems sealed unfortunately. Streit and Dandeneault were again taking shifts at forward, which is an asset Carbonneau needs to make use of any further.
I'm not sure where anyone else sits on the issue, but I'd rather see the likes of Begin, Lapierre and Latendresse taking a unified regular spin than spotting a spare defensema so he doesn't get cold. These are players than could have been the difference tonight.
Carbonneau ruffled the feathers of an entire city and a nation of fans recently in stating that Patrice Brisebois will be paired with Roman Hamrlik to start the season. Despite the idea that the duo makes practical sense in and of itself, the notion of Brisebois having even made the team is idiotic at it's simplest.
Does this annointing of Brisebois not come at the consequence of hampering the furthering of Gorges and O'Byrne?
What does playing and proping up Brisebois in such a manner actually give the team?
Wasn't Brisebois the most obvious goat of a goal tonight on the game's first marked? A trickling of boos were heard and it will get loader in proportion to his goofs this season.
Too bad the Habs gift shop don't sell a Breezer voodoo doll with a pin already inserted in the back. The item would be out of stock on a nightly basis.
It will be interesting to see how patient Carboneau remains with him. The coach was burnt badly by being too patient with Aebischer last season, a player who resembles Brisebois in cluelessness smirk and disinterest. Hopefully he catches on quicker this season.
Speaking of the coach, he has to do something to get me back into his corner again. I'm finding my faith in him slipping away some, and I feel I am starting the envision his end. I don't feel good about it either. Things I don't feel comfortable with are adding up and I'm wishing that wins adding up makes it disapear.
I'd respect certain things he's doing a whole lot more if proven wrong.
As for the final round of cuts, I get that O'Byrne will be sent down, a statement will be made, or attempted, with Lapierre, and Dandeneault will waiving goodbye, for now.
The jury will be watching Grabovski and Chipchura closely upon Max's Bulldog rebirth.
All things told, a fairly solid final outing without much overall on the line. The missing elements will return to bolster what ought to be an entertaining and competitive team come Wednesday.