clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Canadiens vs Leafs game recap: Montoya struggles in his second straight start

Habs continue winless pre-season after another 5-1 loss.

NHL: Preseason-Montreal Canadiens at Toronto Maple Leafs Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

A few nights ago, the Montreal Canadiens iced a roster that resembled the Laval Rocket more than an NHL lineup, and struggled in a 5-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators.

The trend continued with a more experienced lineup in another 5-1 loss, this time to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday.

The Canadiens were to roll into Ricoh Coliseum with a reinforced roster, carrying a line up with the big guns, such as Max Pacioretty, Jonathan Drouin, and Shea Weber.

However, things started to go wrong even before the game began. Drouin was ruled out due to an upper body injury, despite taking part in the morning skate. His injury wasn’t deemed to be too serious, and was probably scratched as a precautionary measure.

Following that, Charlie Lindgren, who was due to start tonight for Montreal, was scratched right before warm ups due to a lower body injury. This forced Al Montoya to start a game he didn’t expect to play in, and we got to see Jake Hildebrand, a goalie currently on a PTO with the Toronto Marlies, dress as an emergency back up.

Less than a minute into the first period, and it’s possible Montoya’s unpreparedness showed, as he was beat point blank by a Auston Matthew snap shot that seemingly fooled the Canadiens netminder.

Less than five minutes later, Matthews increased Toronto’s lead to 2-0 after burying a loose puck in front of Montoya.

Despite the early lead for Toronto, Montreal pushed back as they were rewarded with a couple of power play opportunities in the first. To say the Habs were unlucky in the goal-scoring department would be an understatement, as they hit three posts in the first period alone, including this wicked snap shot from Pacioretty:

Early on in the second period, Patrick Marleau pounced on a loose puck to score his second of pre-season to further the gap to 3-0. This was the beginning of the end for the Habs, as the floodgates opened defensively. Two back-to-back quality chances by the Leafs exposed holes in the Canadiens defence, and would continue to be the issue plaguing Montreal all night.

A Nikita Zaitsev penalty midway through the period did result in some positives for Montreal, as Jeff Petry wired a one timer, putting the Habs on the board and cutting the deficit to two.

Victor Mete drew the primary assist on the goal, and continued his exceptional play this pre-season, which may force Canadiens management to give him a look or two once the regular season begins next week.

The Habs were down 3-1 at the end of the second, despite leading the shots 15-8.

That was close as they would get though, as Matthews would complete the hat trick four minutes into the third, and William Nylander would add some more insurance with six minutes remaining in the game.

Thoughts

  • Al Montoya hasn’t done much to impress this pre-season so far. He looked very shaky in the first, and at times didn’t seem comfortable in both his positioning and mobility. I wouldn’t be surprised if Julien gave a long hard look at Lindgren being Price’s back-up this season. Having said that, it can’t be easy to be called into action in a pre-season game you didn’t think you would be playing in.

Claude Julien didn’t want to point any fingers, but admitted it was a tough night for his goaltender.

  • Montreal’s power play looked a lot better on Monday, even though they were 1-for-4 on the man advantage. We saw better in-zone puck movement, and more confidence from both units. Two of the posts hit early in the game were on the special teams, hopefully signalling a bright future for this power play.
  • Did I mention it looked really good without Drouin in the line up? It should get even better once he returns from injury.
  • I think Victor Mete is really giving the Canadiens management a tough choice to make when the season starts, and he’s definitely winning over many of the fans with his play thus far. He showed exceptional skating tonight, jumping into the rush when needed, supporting the offence, even drawing a primary assist when put in a power play situation. Defensively he looked great as well, as he was in position most of the time, and back checked hard when caught up ice. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get a try out this season.
  • Alex Galchenyuk and Ales Hemsky seemed to mesh well tonight, as the two were consistently creating chances in the offensive zone. Galchenyuk especially had his best game of the pre-season after a rough start, as he was consistently on the puck, made the right plays, and was one of the top Habs tonight.
  • Also, I’m very surprised Galchenyuk didn’t get a shot at centre tonight with Drouin missing from the line up. Phillip Danault was centering him and Hemsky, and was essentially a non-factor tonight in my eyes.
  • Jacob de la Rose quietly impressed tonight, he didn’t impact the scoreboard, but was a steady defensive presence all night long and did create some scoring chances.
  • Despite not hitting the scoresheet, Charles Hudon always stands out somehow, especially when he turned Calle Rosen inside out with a beautiful move:
  • One more thought on Hudon: He’s really helped Tomas Plekanec so far. It seems like the veteran had an extra jump in his step tonight (and all pre-season, really) alongside Hudon and Artturi Lehkonen. This line could be deadly at some point this year.