As NHL season openers go this was strictly a warm up act for The Dodgers-Nationals NL Division Series ballgame in Washington.
The Canadiens looked good early, fell asleep in the middle frame then seemed to jump back to life (as they often did a season ago before it all came crumbling down) after the Sabres scored during an early third period power play. For a little while it seemed like Robin Lehner was going to put his team in a position to perhaps steal at least a point but eventually he melted down (as we’ve seen before) and the Habs put it away with two more goals as the direct result of net presence.
It wasn’t a Rembrandt. It wasn’t even a Ken Danby. But it was two points, albeit against an already depleted looking Sabres team.
- Al Montoya. Welcome to the club. Now do it again in Ottawa.
- Brendan Gallagher. Already on pace to score 164 goals. But he’s no Auston Matthews.
- Shea Weber. Could hardly ask for more in his Habs debut. His accurate wrist shot from the blue line was tipped in by Gallagher. He was +3. He played a game high 24:04. He destroyed Johann Larsson in his corner of the ice. Yes it was his cross check penalty that led to Buffalo’s only goal but if a defenseman is going to take penalties I’d rather it be a cross check than a trip or a hook. Weber, by the way, had just 27 minutes in penalties last season. Having said all that, there were a couple of shifts when he moved like Hal Gill.
- David Desharnais-Andrew Shaw-Daniel Carr. A good start. Tally up the number of goals Shaw/Carr score from the crease. That’s one.
- Torrey Mitchell-Paul Byron-Phillip Danault. Byron had an exceptional training camp and it carried over into the opener. Fearless rush to the net led to Mitchell’s rebound goal in his former home rink. Danault also saved a goal when he dove deep in his own end to knock the puck off the stick of Tyler Ennis.
- Arturi Lehkonen. The best player on his line. Robbed of a sure goal by Lehner’s quick glove. Led Habs with five shots on goal. Also spent 3:42 on the penalty kill. Who saw that coming when training camp opened?
- Greg Pateyrn. Made the most of his considerable ice time (22:46) with Jeff Petry not quite ready to roll.
- Mikhail Sergachev. The best you can say about the Habs first 18 year old defenseman since Mathieu Schneider is that he will likely be a lot more comfortable in Ottawa.
- Alexei Emelin. I’m not wild about the Sergachev-Emelin pairing but the older Russian was a rock. And if Evander Kane already had issues with Emelin…
- Tomas Plekanec. The season has started Tomas.
- Face Offs. You know you’re in tough against one of the best in the NHL in Ryan O’Reilly (9 for 11) but the Habs as a team were just 38%. Only Desharnais was over 50%. Danault went 0-6.
- Power Play. 0-2. They didn’t need it but they sure will. They’ll score in Ottawa.
- Poor Torrey Mitchell. Gets a puck in the face then a Josh Gorges knee to the head.
- The Sabres are already without Jack Eichel for a couple of months with a bad high ankle sprain, and Kyle Okposo with a bruised knee. And now Kane for what is sure to be a lengthy amount of time.
- Andrew Shaw slew foot at the end of the game. Why? Because he’s Andrew Shaw. But, as Darren Dreger points out, it’s not necessarily a fineable/suspendable offense.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) October 14, 2016