You have to respect the New Jersey Devils. The mark of a great team is that they impose their game on you, force you to play the way they want you to play. Many things have changed in New Jersey over the last 20 years, coaches, roster turnover, goalies (soon), but the way they impose their style has not. The unfortunate part is that the style that the Devils play is unbelievably, dreadfully boring.
It wasn't always quite this boring, but since the Devils lack scoring depth, they play very low event hockey, and try to win low scoring games. It didn't work for them last night, but it was close.
If not for Max Pacioretty, it may have worked. You may look at the scoresheet after the game and see that the Montreal Canadiens went 2/4 on the powerplay, and think it was deadly, but that wasn't really the case. The kinks are still being worked out there in a big way, and it was really a case of nothing working at all until someone found Pacioretty and he blasted two goals past Martin Brodeur.
The first was a feed from Daniel Briere, who seems to be very solid on the PP thus far, and it was a patented Pacioretty snap shot from the high slot. The second was a sick breakout pass from P.K. Subban, giving Pacioretty a breakaway. Max went to his backhand and put it top shelf on Brodeur.
Pacioretty now has 4 goals in 3 preseason games, tied for first in the league with... Michael Bournival. Bournival couldn't keep up his streak of scoring in every Habs game he's ever appeared in, but he did make an impact on the game. The young forward was the best player on his line, playing center between Travis Moen and Ryan White. He dug the puck out of the corner to keep the play alive that lead to the game winning goal, a tip in by Ryan White that came on a point shot from Jarred Tinordi. Weirdly, it was a carbon copy of Tinordi's first NHL point, also a game winning goal against New Jersey.
Tinordi was once again impressive, asserting himself physically whenever he was given the opportunity. He was running around a lot less last night than he did against Carolina, which was likely after some advice from Michel Therrien. Therrien commented after the Hurricanes game that while it can look bad when a player makes a hit that puts him out of position and turns into a goal against, it's a lot better to have to rein a guy in a bit than it is to have to push a guy to go harder. Tinordi is likely to play the final two preseason games, and as I've said a thousand times already, he's made this team. It's really nonsensical to cut him at this point.
P.K. Subban had yet another a multipoint night, bringing him to 6 points in 3 preseason games. Ho hum, only 2 points per game. It's like he's the best defenseman in the league or something.
Brandon Prust played on the top line, which is likely what will happen while Brian Gionta is out after Christian Thomas wasn't quite at the level that the club was looking for, and Louis Leblanc was sent down to prove he can be what he used to be. Prust looks to be back to what he was before his shoulder injury last year, though he did have a bit of a lapse in judgement in fighting a nobody.
Then Prust beat the tar out of him.
Carey Price also looked very sharp in the game, and raised his save percentage for the third straight showing. Expect him to play one of the two final preseason games, with Budaj likely to take the second half of the back to back.