Yes, last nights effort against the Penguins wasn't pretty, but a little perspective - please.
Many looked at the game lineups and figured rightly that one half of the Habs team could easily do away with the Wilkes-Barre Penguins. I'm guilty of thinking it myself, based on what went down the night before.
But this is why there is pre-season folks. It's all about ironing out wrinkles and getting synchronicity and cohesion reaquianted with talent. My father once told me "Patience is a virtue!" Or was that my mother saying patience is a virgin - I forget.
In all regards, taken for what it was, the 5-2 loss to the baby Penguins had enough ugly for a dozen Betty's. More than half of the players disguised as Habs last night just didn't bring their A games and on first glance the overall impression was anything but reassuring.
I thought it best to let this one simmer a bit overnight before committing my thoughts here and after letting everything merinade a few hours what I witnessed doesn't feel so harsh.
After allowing panic to crash head on with perspective, realizing that it was only the first game for most of these players lightens the blow despite the quality of the opposition.
There was a considerable amount of inexperience on the ice.
Jaroslav Halak's alarm clock went off late.
Given these facts, many players hit the ice with unrecognizable mates at their side and were asked to come from behind 2-0 in a game against a lineup of players hardly any of them knew.
With that in mind, a fair assessment of much of what occured, might not even be fair. In truth certain bleu, blanc, rouges didn't belong on the ice with the bigger boys.
Not to split hairs here, but why do the Habs feel it necessary to give Francis Lemieux a shot at the team when he's yet to achieve top 2 line status in Hamilton?
Despite the loss, I saw good things in the performances of Carey Price and Ryan O'Byrne.
Price had little help from his friends and I'mmore interested in seeing how he bounces back than I am in analyzing what happened here.
O'Byrne ( Rhino Burn!) needs work on timing his hits. Hitting NHL'ers cannot be learned at the AHL level, His will be an interesting case to follow.
Matt D'Agnostini will be a good one. Another year in Hamilton, in a prime role, will help him become the complete player Montreal needs him to be. I see another Higgins in this boy. He gets his mug smushed and has a compass in his eye. He'll be a fan favorite soon enough.
Battlers Bryan Smolinski and Steve Begin showed up. Begin, throwing himself out to block shots in a pre-season PK, is who the man is. Smolinski will get more accustomed to the team once he has regular linemates.
Guillaume Latendresse showed a flare of temperment, which is good.
Captain K had a sprinkling of good shifts.
Maxim Lapierre was bristling with energy at times.The Max Factor is ready to go.
The jury takes a recess on Roman Hamrlik for now.
Francis Bouillon and Mathieu Dandeneault need some time as well.
Michael Ryder needs to understand that every shift and every play has a consequence. I fear he is setting himself up to be the Habs whipping boy this season if he doesn't start rounding into form soon enough. Just as Kovalev's every flaw was exposed last season, Ryder will be wearing the shackles of Habs fans wrath if he doesn't find a more complete game soon.
Good or bad, not much more made any lasting impressions on me.
What I took from the debacle, was that if you add the glimmering better elements of last night's game to the sure things in Monday's lineup, a team as a whole emerges.
The players who spent the evening playing leapfrog with unicorns were hardly representative of an intact Habs squad.
So there is really no need to panic for now. It's not as if this was the last pre-season test. We will all have a better idea where the Habs are in a week or so.
The problem as I see, is there's too many bodies in camp to sort out at present. Each player's limits has an impact on the play of the next guy.
What I found sadly missing this season was the rookie tournaments they had the last two years. The idea has been put aside for now, in part because the Leafs and Sens do not have enough prospects to line up against the Habs. Maybe next year the Riccoh Cup ( is that the correct spelling? ) will return.
For now, after some 15 or 20 cuts, the real stuff will begin.
So don't sweat it folks - chill - this was far from the real deal!