Welcome back folks!
It felt like a short off-season probably because it was one; thanks to the Montreal Canadiens’ epic run to the Conference Finals last season. Sadly, it ended in defeat, to the New York Rangers no less. It stings but we’re ready to move on. It’s a new chance for a fresh start.
The 2014-2015 NHL season got underway on Wednesday and the Habs already have two games under their belt; including a trip to the Air Canada Centre for their inaugural game against the Toronto Maple Leafs followed by the Verizon Centre for a match up against Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals. Two games, two wins. The Habs are not playing their best hockey but they’re getting the job done, and in exciting fashion.
Here are some news and notes on the first week in Habsnation:
There were lots of changes this off-season, leaving many at a loss to predict how the Habs will fare as the regular season progresses. The two games played have been messy but ultimately satisfying contests, and put 4 points in the bank. The opening night victory was the first in three tries against the Leafs. The shootout win over the Capitals was a surprise after the team mustered an abysmal 2 shots in the first period.
The team’s top two lines are on fire. Pacioretty scored the first goal of the season. P.K. Subban and Carey Price are in mid-season form and the young Dustin Tokarski already has a game under his belt. But the biggest surprise and best news after two games is the reinvention of Tomas Plekanec. The notoriously defensively responsible centre has three goals in two contests, including a clean breakaway goal and a game winner. He was also the only Canadien to get on the board during regulation time against the Caps. This is thanks to his new offensive-driven linemates, Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk. The trio had instant chemistry in game one, after a scattered performance against the Senators during exhibition play.
Game 2. Habs vs. Caps. Period 1 shots: Caps 15 vs. Habs 2. It was ugly. Really ugly. The good news is that the Habs turned it around for the 2nd period and outshot the Caps 21-13 during the rest of the game. Even if it’s only been two games, it’s the second time in as many nights that the Habs missed the first period (they were outshot 11-6 by the Leafs on opening night). Two back to back games to open the season is rough so there’s no need to panic, but it’s still something the team will need to address early if they want to have a successful 2014-2015 campaign. That’s the only real complaint worth mentioning this early.
It’ll be strange to see Brian Gionta and Josh Gorges wearing letters for the Buffalo Sabres when the two teams meet on November 29th. They are players I admire and they will be missed. But, I’m bitterly disappointed to see Peter Budaj leave. Habs management dealt Budaj to the Winnipeg Jets at the end of the preseason, in order to save on salary and to avoid putting him on waivers. The Jets, however, had no such reservations and he is now in St. John’s of the AHL. Of course, what I love about Budaj is that he makes the best of any situation and handles it with the utmost class. Still, he’s a better goaltender than most are giving him credit and I wouldn’t have been surprised to see him steal the starting job from Pavelec if he were still in Winnipeg.
The Montreal Canadiens and Bell announced on Thursday the return of the highly successful 24 CH. The weekly documentary series offers a behind-the-scenes look at the Habs as the drama of the season unfolds. The first episode will air the week of October 11th.
The Habs are currently on a four game road trip before they return to Montreal for their home opener at the Bell Centre on Thursday, October 16th, 2014.