For a fanbase which has already seen its fair share of lows for nearly ten months now, waiting another two and a half weeks for the 2016-17 regular season to begin must feel like nothing. Major changes have taken place, and exciting times lie ahead.
Commenting on Mikhail Sergachev’s prospects of jumping straight to the big leagues, Michel Therrien suggested that preseason play would be a crucial evaluation tool. Sergachev appears destined for the OHL, but if we can extrapolate Therrien’s comments to the numerous other competitions taking place around the Habs’ roster, tonight’s game may be of some significance.
While no lineup has been announced yet, the likes of Daniel Carr, Sven Andrighetto, and Artturi Lekhonen know they need to make an impact early in preseason play if they wish to snag a hotly-contested bottom-9 spot. Ostensible eighth defender Zach Redmond is in a similar position, but fortunately for him, his window of opportunity is a little larger.
How to Watch
Start time: 7:30 PM ET
In the Canadiens region (French): RDS
Elsewhere: NHL GameCenter, NHL Center Ice
Sergachev won’t participate in the first two games on the Canadiens preseason docket, while Alexei Emelin and Andrei Markov are still easing their way back from the World Cup of Hockey. Shea Weber, of course, is still there. That leaves plenty of minutes for those who would stake a claim to a job looking out for Carey Price, especially those less familiar to Therrien.
These first two preseason contests, including tomorrow night’s visit from the Washington Capitals, are also an introduction for a few incoming veterans whose spots are assured. Whether it’s tonight or 24 hours later, our first glimpses of Andrew Shaw and Alexander Radulov in the bleu-blanc-rouge are near.
These newcomers, despite whatever baggage may be accompanying them to Montreal, should each be central to any return to form in La Belle Province this season. Their opponents, conversely, are set to rely on two relics of the Habs’ recent bad times.
Mike Cammalleri has kept a full-season goalscoring pace close to thirty for each of his three seasons with New Jersey, while Devante Smith-Pelly is hoping to keep up the breakneck pace he set following his trade deadline departure from the Tricolore last March.
Regardless of each player’s merits, it’s not difficult to argue that neither player, DSP especially, would have a place on the ice with this year’s Canadiens. From afar, however, they should serve an important role to this year’s Habs. As living representations of the perils of failing to make good when a championship window is open, they should focus the Canadiens as the Habs’ quest begins anew.
Update: Here is the team that will be facing New Jersey tonight
||Jacob de la Rose
|Yury Alexandrov||Zach Redmond|