So far, the Montreal Canadiens have lived up to renewed expectations after addressing several significant needs this offseason. After three games, the team has come up with five points and a share of second place with the Calgary Flames. Both teams trail the early North Division leader – Toronto Maple Leafs – by a single point.
Carey Price’s new crease partner, Jake Allen, made his Canadiens debut at Rogers Place in Edmonton last night. The Fredericton native came away with a 3-1 victory after making 25 of 26 stops. He was two minutes away from a shutout until a neutral zone turnover led to a Drew Shore breakaway and decisive blocker hand finish – a short handed marker. Outside of that, Allen looked crisp.
Anytime a team can keep two of the most potent offensive players in the world – Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid – off the score sheet is a good night from the crease on out. Based on Allen’s early performance, Carey Price must be giddy about the potential he and his new running mate possess for the next several seasons.
Even when Josh Anderson does not score, he is an effective player. The burly 26-year-old from Burlington brings a physical presence that the Canadiens have been missing for some time now – a true power forward on an otherwise ‘light’ unit. That said, he has already found success off the right wing with two highly skilled players in Jonathan Drouin and Nick Suzuki.
Anderson was held off the scoresheet over the last two games but did have a two-goal effort during the season opener against Toronto. The 26-year-old was a huge addition and while he will be good throughout the regular season he might shine brighter year during a playoff run.
Despite the Canadiens early team success, Tyler Toffoli only registered his first point last night when he collected an assist on Shea Webers power play marker in the second period. That goal would also stand up as the game winner when the final horn sounded.
So far, Toffoli has been taking even strength shifts alongside Jesper Kotkaniemi and Joel Armia. This unit gives the Canadiens three really solid lines, but head coach Claude Julien may eventually consider upgrading the skill level of Armia off the right wing.
That said, regardless of who he plays with it is only a matter of time until Toffoli gets rolling. For now, he is getting chances and creating opportunities for himself and those around him. Stay patient with this natural producer Habs fans!
In this case, the kids include forwards Nick Suzuki (21) and Jesper Kotkaniemi (20) as well as rookie defenseman Alexander Romanov (21). Both Suzuki and Kotkaniemi look like they have made strides within their game and eventually they are going be an imposing 1A and 1B up the middle.
While we only had a slight benchmark of what to expect from Romanov he is clearly becoming a ‘thing’ in Montreal and around the NHL community. An effortless skater with great skill and supreme hockey sense might be a good way to describe him. Not only has he shown his extended vision and puck moving ability up ice, but he also scored his first NHL goal last night.
Romanov will have his ups and downs as a young defender at the highest level of play, but so far there seems to be much more to be excited about than not. That goes for all three of these kids!
It has been a solid start for Montreal and they will try and keep that rolling Wednesday night versus the Canucks in Vancouver (7pm PST, 10pm EST).
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