It's over. It's finally over.
The Habs ended their preseason play with another loss versus the Senators, this time in Montreal. It was a closely-matched game that was decided on a David Legwand powerplay goal with 1:14 left in the third. The tedious experience that is the preseason ends, and the Canadiens have a meaningless 4-2-1 record to show for it.
The Senators kept their usual antics to a minimum, although we were treated to a plethora of stick-work midway through the game by the hack-happy Ottawa club. This led to a slew of powerplay opportunities for the Canadiens, culminating in a Max Pacioretty goal.
Interestingly enough, this goal was created thanks to a quick wrist shot on net by P.K. Subban, and not his traditional windup. If the Canadiens hope to improve their powerplay going forward, they'll need to show a lot more creativity in their setup. Every single team knows that the Habs man-advantage strategy relies solely on the very predictable P.K. Subban cannon blast. Even though his shot is capable of beating every single goalie in the NHL, the Habs would be wise to diversify their attack, and open up some secondary scoring chances as much as possible. Right now they're simply not making life miserable on the penalty killers, which is producing some woeful powerplay opportunities.
Staying on the subject of special teams; the penalty kill has not looked particularly great of late, allowing five powerplay goals in the last 11 opportunities.
On a positive note, Max Pacioretty's is in great form, just in time for the regular season. Unfortunately, one of his projected linemates, P.A. Parenteau, had to leave the game with a lower-body injury, although Michel Therrien later confirmed it was just a precaution, and he shouldn't miss any action.
P.K. Subban gave us a $9M play, as he tore through Sens defenders to set up Andrei Markov with a highlight assist.
I was happy with what I saw from the fourth line, and even though they'll see limited action this year, Habs fans should be confident when they hit the ice. If Brandon Prust, Manny Malhotra and Dale Weise can give the Canadiens a solid 10-12 minutes per night, the team will be better off. It's also a huge upgrade on last year's starting 4th line of Parros-Prust-Moen.
Jarred Tinordi clearly starts games slowly, and ramps up his play as the game goes on. He got off to another slow start last night, but came into his own as the game progressed, and even saved Carey Price's bacon in the third. If the Habs truly want to instill confidence in their young behemoth, they'll keep him on the roster come October 8, and eventually let him gain NHL experience as soon as a defender inevitably injures himself.
The only even-strength goal that beat Carey Price was a Mike Hoffman banana, and for all intents and purposes he seems to be in top shape. That's good news for Habs fans, since the upcoming season will rely heavily on Price's ability to keep Montreal in the game during close match ups.
All in all, it was a good training camp for the Canadiens, proving that they possess more forward depth than previously projected. Christian Thomas played his heart out, earning him possible first call-up honours. Jacob de la Rose proved he can hang with the big boys, all the while displaying some fantastic defensive awareness. Even though there was a fair amount of hype behind the arrival of Jiri Sekac, the Kladno native did not disappoint. There's no doubt he's earned a spot among the Canadiens forwards. His his patience and creativity with the puck should give the Canadiens a healthy boost in the secondary scoring category. Nathan Beaulieu clearly deserves a roster spot. He may even find his way into the top four before long, although it's a little early to start projecting him in that situation.
And that, my friends, is the end of the preseason. Let's drop the puck and finally play some real hockey.