Canadiens vs Leafs 10 Takeaways: A good night’s work*

*It was against the Leafs, but a win is a win.

This was the first time we’ve had the chance to see what the Habs’ regular season team might look like, and the last chance for some prospects to make a case for themselves — boy did they ever deliver.

1. Lehkonen isn’t going anywhere

Artturi Lehkonen looks right at home with Plekanec and Radaulov, and now that the goals have started coming, it doesn’t look like they’re gonna stop. He’s so good on both sides of the puck, and he can score like this:

2. The rest of the kids are making a very strong case for themselves.

McCarron did an excellent job of using the Leafs’ defenceman as a screen to victimise Frederik Andersen, and looked good all over the ice, even taking the puck away from Matthews at one point in his own zone. Daniel Carr (an assist on Shaw’s first goal) and Sven Andrighetto (an assist on Weber’s goal) have continued to prove that they’ve been ready for the big times for a while, and are certainly out to make Bergevin’s job as difficult as possible when it comes to making the last few cuts. Similarly, for all that it might be good for Sergachev to go back to Juniors and terrorize the league on the way to a Memorial Cup showing, he certainly is also making a strong case for himself, looking less and less out of place as the preseason continues. It was his shot that Shaw put away on the rebound. His game was even better at the end of the game, where he was noticeable in a very good way — except for the late penalty.

3. Alex Galchenyuk is going to be amazing everywhere this year

The Habs are using Galchenyuk on the penalty kill now, and that first period breakaway, and the shorthanded chance from Shaw are exactly why. I’d be willing to bet there will be quite a tidy collection of short handed goals for him this season.

4. That goal

Yes. It gets its own point.

5. It was a pretty good night for the new veterans

If Shaw’s first game showcased all the reasons having Shaw on the Habs could be maddening, this game showed all the reasons having Shaw on the Habs on the team is great. He played cleanly and scored a couple of goals. Exactly what they want from him. The presence of Shaw, Carr and Gallagher is likely to drive goalies around the league absolutely mad all year. Shea Weber too showed off the best parts of his game, scoring a good goal. Radulov too was everything Habs fans could hope for.

6. The Price is undoubtedly right

Not that there were any doubts left after the World Cup of Hockey, but Price is back to his Vezina self, and the Habs are playing very well in front of him. It is beautiful to behold, and I know I speak for everyone when I say how glad I am to have him back. His ability to make saves aside, the way he plays the puck makes such a difference to this team. Beaulieu agrees.

7. Emelin had himself a very good play

I always feel obliged to mention it every time he does. Perhaps it shouldn’t be such a big deal when he does, but the diving play he made to prevent a 1-on-0 Leafs rush was truly excellent. He made a few good little ones too. Though, I could definitely have done without the penalty. I would have given up the pretty play in exchange for keeping Jeff Petry too...

8. Nathan Beaulieu had  a very good night to end a very good preseason

Going into this season, everyone from Pacioretty to Therrien to the fan on the street agreed that Beaulieu needs to have a big year. If this preseason is anything to go by, that’s just what he is going to do. He’s racked up eight points in five games, never looking out of place playing big minutes, usually as the number one defenseman. Tonight was no different. He took heavy defensive assignments, played the power play and the penalty kill, lead the team in ice time, and looked right at home with Shea Weber. Of course, it was the Leafs, not the Penguins or the Capitals, but he’s done everything he could possibly do to show that he’s ready for big responsibilities.

9. The lines

It is so nice to see the forwards deployed in such an ideal way, and plugging Andrighetto into the first trio to preserve the others was excellent. All four lines are strong in their own right, and have the potential to score. The first line is ridiculous. Gallagher and Galchenyuk are so good on their own, as we saw tonight — and add Pacioretty in there and that line becomes a lethal weapon. Cover Pacioretty, Galchenyuk will score. Cover Galchenyuk, Galagher will score. Devote manpower to keeping Gallagher at bay, Pacioretty will make you pay.

Lehkonen-Plekanec-Radulov is also going to be really, really good. We know what Plekanec can do, even without help, but now he has two legitimate offensive talents on his wings. For the first time in a very long time, the Habs have a true top six that will be able to provide plenty of secondary scoring, and strong defensive play.

Everything that was good about Weise-Desharnais-Fleischman last year is back in Carr-Desharnais-Shaw. A dash of skill, a bit of speed, some scoring ability, and a decided upgrade in defensive play (granted, that’s not necessarily saying a whole lot...). Moreover Carr and Shaw on the same line??? They’re going to drive goalies and defenders mad. The fourth line, like it was last year, is defensively responsible, mobile, and has the ability to score if the opportunity arises, no matter who is on it, or who plays where.

This is the best the Habs forward group has been in a while.

10. A glimpse into what this season may bring

Today was the first time we got a taste of what the Habs will be like this season, and if you weren’t at least a little encouraged by what you saw, you’re blind. Now, I don’t think they’ll often score six goals, or out-shoot a team while taking more penalties and winning by multiple goals, but they played well on both sides of the ice, and while clearly having Price made a difference, especially with his puck handling ability, they weren’t squeaking through on his coat tails. Granted, they didn’t have much by way of stiff opposition, it was the Leafs after all. Nevertheless, it was encouraging.

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