The underdog Montreal Canadiens went into Toronto and didn’t back down
The Canadiens didn’t get two points but they did a lot of things well
Going into Wednesday night’s season opener, the Montreal Canadiens weren’t given much of a chance. Many (including myself) are expecting that the Toronto Maple Leafs will fight for the division title, and many (including myself) think that the Canadiens will struggle to make the playoffs.
However, the Canadiens did everything but come away with two points. They led the way at even strength by a significant margin. They had over 57% of the shot attempts at five on five. They outshot the Leafs, and generally ran the pace of play. They went into a Scotiabank Arena that was looking for a celebratory homecoming for their team and simply out-skated them most of the night.
They used tons of speed. The forwards have it in spades, including Paul Byron, Max Domi and Matthew Peca. The defence knew what they were doing with the puck and made the transition game something that we haven’t seen in a long time.
All of it came together in what was one of the more entertaining styles of play we’ve seen from the Canadiens in years. It was a loss, but it doesn’t feel like one. Watching the game, you almost felt like the other shoe was going to drop, especially when Toronto took a 2-1 lead, but the Canadiens fought back.
There were some gremlins, and not everything was or will be perfect. They had a let down after they scored the first goal, but not only did they not allow a goal in the immediate aftermath, they collected themselves to continue to dominate. The penalty kill still allowed a guy alone in the slot a dangerous amount of time.
But those are things you can tweak and fix. The overall play of the defence made you wonder who was wearing the jerseys. It definitely didn’t look like a team missing its captain and top pairing defenceman.
If the Canadiens keep playing the way that they did against Toronto, not only will it be fun to watch regardless of the results, the results will start to get fun as well.
A team that plays like the Canadiens did on Wednesday won’t lose very often.