After an inconsistent week, it’s probably a good idea to start with best part: the goaltending. The Price was right on Wednesday night, as the humble Carey Price made his impressive NHL debut against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Habs fans everywhere watched intently as Price maintained an almost superhuman calmness when faced with the likes of Sydney Crosby. Well done Carey, well done.
Here’s a kid who’s younger than the majority of students reading this article, playing his first NHL game against arguably the best player in the league, and he pulls off the victory like a seasoned pro. Look, obviously winning one game doesn’t mean that he’s the next Patrick Roy or Ken Dryden; but it’s very difficult to ignore both the great saves, and fantastic attitude put forth by Price on Wednesday. A glimmer of hope for the future could be seen in the eyes of every fan on Thursday morning.
Wednesday also saw some great goals from Alexei Kovalev, Andrei Markov and Thomas Plekanec. Markov’s was especially nice, he saw that rebound coming and got himself into the perfect position like only he can, proving again why he’s one of the Habs’ most valuable assets.
Plekanec’s goal was also noteworthy; he picked the top corner perfectly and got the puck in just over Fleury’s shoulder. As for Kovalev, even though he scored a nice goal, he seemed somewhat slow throughout the rest of the game.
Wednesday also marked the NHL debut for Kyle Chipchura. His initial performance drew some criticism, but on Saturday night he redeemed himself quite well. First night jitters, maybe? But when he got on the ice on Saturday, the difference was paramount. He was quick, and handled the puck with purpose, which bodes well for the rest of the season.
Moving on to Saturday, even though the Habs were massively outplayed by the Carolina Hurricanes (it could have easily been 5-1), Huet played extremely well. Left out to dry many times by the defense, he was forced to make some spectacular saves, especially in the second and third periods. Cheers to him for a great home opener performance.
I wish I could say the same thing about the rest of the team, but truth be told, it was a sad home opener. The ‘Canes were back for revenge after the Habs spoiled their home opener on October 3rd, handing Montreal their first regular-time loss of the season, and boy was it ugly.
The guys looked scattered and disorganized, and the dump-‘n-chase made a noticeable comeback. At the initial puck drop they looked great, and fans got all riled up with false confidence after Chris Higgins scored off of Saku Koivu’s rebound under two minutes in. A goal that early, on a 5-on-5 play? We thought it was in the bag! How wrong we were… It came back to the same fundamental problem: discipline! The team took sloppy, needless penalties in the neutral zone.
Head Coach Guy Carbonneau was visibly upset by his team’s inability to focus, but it has to be said. Isn’t that often a coaching problem? I’m not blaming him, but he’s not innocent here either. The whole team just looked so out-of-it throughout most of the game. The passes were weak, and there were very few plays being set-up. Even though they were hustling a bit more in the third, it seemed as though they couldn’t even buy a goal. There was just a total lack of cohesion and chemistry.
It was tough for the full-house present at the Bell Centre to witness their team’s home opener loss. Still, in true Montreal style, the atmosphere was electric throughout most of the game.
Also impressive was the standing ovation given to Patrice Brisebois during the team’s annual on-ice introductions. that could’ve gone either way, as we all remember that Brisebois used to be on the receiving end of some intense heckling.
The team has a busy week coming up as they face the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, Ottawa Senators on Thursday, and the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday. Facing all three teams for the first time this season, it’s sure to be an interesting run.
Needless to say, they better pick up some points on Tuesday, because the rest of the week has the potential for disaster.
Check back for next week’s edition of the Habs Report to get a full recap of how our boys did on their first three-game week of the season.