Preseason Game 1: Stars @ Canadiens 6-3 L
In an effort to dampen the intense excitement coming into the season, the Montreal Canadiens got doubled up on by the Dallas Stars in what initially looked a lot worse when the Stars leaped out to a 4-0 lead after just 24:04 of ice-time.
Scoring summary from NHL.com:
The game was messy, as most preseason games are, and to be honest I feel bad for the people who payed full price ($250) for platinum seats tonight. That said, although the game itself means little to nothing, there are some notes that can be taken from the game.
Carey Price seemed to be predicting tonight's game when he said he wasn't feeling quite right about his game yet. Two awkward looking goals went in on Carey tonight, and four goals in total. He slightly bettered last season's preseason debut, stopping 9/13 instead of 5/9 shots. Unlike last season however, there he wasn't booed off the ice, which is a marked improvement for the notably fickle Bell Centre crowd. Luckily for Habs fans, this is a trend for Price that most of us have gotten used to by now. Carey's play in preseason is usually sub-par to terrible as he uses that time to fine tune his game. By the time the season rolls around he'll be 100%.
Raphael Diaz took about half the game to start looking comfortable at this level, and although he had some slick moves in the offensive zone, he wasn't very good in the defensive zone at any point.
Hal Gill looked like he was already pacing himself for the playoffs and had several blunders.
Jeff Woywitka's goal may have given him a couple more preseason games as a Hab, but up to that point and most shifts afterwards he was busy giving Jacques Martin and the rest of the coaching staff every reason possible to cut him. Everyone he was paired with seemed to instantly struggle.
Aaron Palushaj had more nerves than anyone else to start the game, he might have been the Habs worst forward in the 1st period. He improved over the course of the game, but it really doesn't look like this is Palushaj's time to make the jump to the NHL.
Faceoffs were a big problem area for the Canadiens tonight as they won just 27%. The worst of the bunch is auditioning 4th line center Andreas Engqvist who went 0/5 as well as Plekanec who won just 6/20 and was waved out of the circle multiple times. While faceoffs aren't as important as some pundits pretend if you have good puck retrieval, those kind of numbers are unacceptable.
The invisible - Alain Berger, Brian WIllsie, Danny Masse, Andreas Engqvist, Ian Schultz (aside from a fight).
Andrei Kostitsyn was a beast tonight. His powerplay goal put the game back within reach for a brief period in the second period. On many shifts in the last 40 minutes of the game Kostitsyn looked like Peter Forsberg in the offensive zone as he held the puck and out-battled multiple Stars players while opening up lanes for teammates.
Yannick Weber played a top notch all around game against a competition level he rarely faces, and with more ice-time than he's ever received in the NHL at 25:54. Weber was one of only two Habs defenders to record a plus rating and looked to have significantly improved his defensive zone play. Weber also looked a good measure stronger as he angled players out on the rush.
Nathan Lawson was surprisingly solid, especially right after the goalie switch. He will give Hamilton solid goaltending this season.
Alexei Yemelin was a bag of nerves to start the game, and he wasn't helped by being paired with Woywitka, but as the game went on he gathered himself quite impressively. He made several adept plays in the offensive zone, acquitted himself well in the defensive zone and finished second to Weber in overall ice-time at 21:35.
Mike Cammalleri - Tomas Plekanec - Erik Cole: It was clear that the line hasn't quite gelled yet, and both Plekanec and Cammalleri were guilty of trying to set Cole up too often instead of shooting, but the line showed flashes of how dominant it has the potential to be. Cole's goal was a snipe and he made intelligent reads all game long. Montreal made a good move to grab him in July.
Jarred Tinordi was surprisingly solid in a very similar way to how he played last year in the preseason. His positioning, puck skills and foot speed all looked to be much better than last year. He was the other defender to register a positive plus/minus rating.
Brock Trotter was up and down during the game as he alternated using his speed to give defenders fits while making smart plays, and trying to do too much. His speed and skill is evident, and he's not afraid of going to the tough areas of the ice. Of the players fighting for that 13th forward spot on the Habs roster, he seems to have the lead by a wide margin.