Player Performances: Game #1 of Pre-Season

After a long wait…..let me emphasize that….a VERY¬†LONG wait, we got to witness our Habs back on the ice for the first time in several months. As the Habs prospects/current players hit the ice, we saw a team that we may not see for another few years- something that was/is quite the treat to watch. The Canadiens faced-off against the Buffalo Sabres for the first pre-season game of the year. Here I have provided a list of notes I have taken towards some (not all) of the players that played the first game.

I must make this very clear: I am by no means a scout. I am one single person and saw things that some others may have not seen and vice versa. You are free to disagree with what my personal impressions were on this one game. Again….ONE game. Just because I say one player played poorly, doesn’t mean that I’m viewing them as a bad player. Just means that the first game of the pre-season wasn’t their best. That’s all. That being said, here it is:

 

Gallagher: First off, let me say, Gallagher played like Gallagher. He showed no signs whatsoever of having slowed down from last season. He played on a line (informally titled the EGG line) with Galchenyuk and Eller. Gallagher being Gallagher, he re-demonstrated his speed, agility and ability to hustle after the puck (which I like to say is similar to watching a cat chase a laser-pointer). He proved his two-way game by continuously back-checking and forechecking. He blocked shots whenever required and got a large share of shots on net. (After the 1st period, he had 4 shots on net, while the Habs as a whole had 8).

Eller: Like Gallagher, Eller played like typical Eller, but better. Possibly due to the fact he was placed on the top line (and not overshadowed by Plekanec), he showed his reliability and leadership qualities on the ice- hence the “A” on his jersey. He had great chemistry with the “G’s” of the EGG, being Galchenyuk and Gallagher. He showed to check the opposing players more than ever, and quite effectively so.

Andrighetto: The 5’9, 3rd round pick showed his ability to use his skating skills effectively. He wasn’t consistently visible on the ice, but when he was, he frequently went in to lay the body (despite his very small frame), which could be viewed as a positive or negative. It would only negative being that it would periodically put him out of position. He had several scoring opportunities and played a centre-like role, chasing the puck and creating scoring opportunities. This was most notable when he was briefly on a line with Galchenyuk and Gallagher. He would hustle all over the ice with determination which would lead to him taking the puck away from the Sabres in the opposing zone.

Tinordi: This one is a bit controversial. I know many that were very impressed by Tinordi’s play, however, for myself, he did not impress. The reason being is that I know he can do better. Some of his passing was a bit rushed, and too hard, generally flying right by his teammates sticks. Most obvious to me, was his “odd” positioning. I found him standing (especially in his own zone), too high or too low in the play. It is one single game, in a non-relevant game, so this could change no doubt. To his credit, he had some beautiful hits, one leading to a quick “fight” (which wasn’t really a fight, but a tackle).

McCarron: As for the other giant (Tinordi being the other giant….obviously), I was very impressed. There was a lot of controversy when McCarron was drafted. Many said he hadn’t “proven” himself, and that the Habs simply drafted him due to his size. This game, he proved to be much more than simply a 4th line goon (*cough* Kaleta *cough*). McCarron time-after-time found himself to be in great positioning, whether it was to receive a pass, take a hit, or take a shot. He was always “there”. He had an absolutely beautiful behind the back pass to Bournival (who I’ll get to in a bit), leading to a goal. He looked very comfortable on the ice, showing no pressure or nerves. What he truly did well, was using his size effectively by accepting his role. He laid the body many times, but did not take himself that far out of the play. He also showed great defensive play, breaking up a pass in his own zone on the penalty kill. He also had another nice pass to St. Pierre for another goal. Only downside, was his slightly awkward skating, which in all honesty, was still better than I expected. In his own words, he needs time to “grow into his body”.

Diaz: Diaz too was frequently criticized (at least on Twitter), for not being an “NHL player”- something I do not quite understand. He showed great energy on the ice, making nice passes and great rushes. He would hustle for the puck in his own zone to be first on it too. He also played well on the power play in the opposing zone. That being said, he did show some sloppy plays, most obvious with his mix-up with line-mate Nygren, leading to a shorthanded goal against. Some passes and plays he’d want to take back.

Nystrom: At first, I was not impressed with Nystrom at all, but as the game progressed, he proved me wrong. He played very sloppy at the beginning but eventually went to make up for his mistakes, chasing the puck, almost Gallagher-like. He showed his great release, sniping a shot past Sabres goaltender Hackett on the powerplay.

Holland: Like Nystrom, Holland showed some sloppy plays, but overall, played a great game. He would win almost every face-off and played very well defensively, clearing the puck out of his own zone. He showed great defensive play, breaking up a rush on the backcheck.

St. Pierre: St. Pierre, who played on a line with McCarron and Bournival, showed great chemistry with his linemates. He showed nice hands, with great deking and very nice shooting, (missing the net once, and scoring on another). He too had a great backhanded pass to Bournival for a goal for. Despite his 5’9 frame, he would lay the body when needed be. Only downside- his age, 30. Because of it, he probably won’t play in the NHL (most likely), but will play great in the AHL for the Bulldogs.

Reway: Reway is someone everyone was looking forward to watching again. While many gave him praise, I saw him in middle ground. He would either have a great play, or a poor one. He showed great speed and agility, with a nice shot. But on the downside, he found himself out of position several times in the defensive end, one time leading to Buffalo’s 2nd goal. I found him trying too hard, trying to make the fancy play when it was unnecessary. He also had some rushed passes, once leading to a very poor giveaway.

Collberg: Collberg is probably the player that most are looking forward to watching play his first NHL game. He will be playing for the Canadiens this season or back in Sweden. No AHL. Collberg showed great hustling after the puck, fighting for the puck like Gallagher would. He also showed great positioning, getting himself open for a pass. His most notable asset- his stick handling. The puck would literally stay on his tape like glue. He proved great puck-control, continously keeping it as far away form the opposing defensemen as possible, while remaining on his stick.

Nygren: Nygren too, looked either great, or quite out of place depending on the play. On one end he would frequently look comfortable and patient with the puck. He also played quite well defensively, clearing the puck from an odd-man rush and several great blocked shots. He would either play great on the PP, or horribly. He would show great passing and puck-control one minute, and then give away the puck the next (once leading to a shorthanded goal with Diaz). He would sometimes try to do a bit too much, eventually fanning on the puck a couple of times. To his disadvantage, this was his first game on North American ice, something that he’ll eventually get used to. This may have been a factor in his sometime poor play.

Pateryn: I didn’t see Pateryn on the ice too much (possibly because I was getting too much into the game-sorry). What I would see though, was his great defending skills, getting the puck out of his zone on the penalty kill.

Drewiske: Drewiske looked out of place the whole game. He did have some great blocked shots, but would find himself pinching too much in his own zone, which would leave his man open (once almost leading to a goal against). He also received a couple of penalties which didn’t help the whole situation.

Bournival: I am actually frustrated about his amazing 2 goals he notched. The reason? He was the one I was preparing to brag about how much I was impressed by him, BEFORE he scored his 2 goals. I was all ready to type: “I found myself continuously saying ‘wow’ a lot”. His 2 goals lead to everyone saying how much they liked Bournival. (I said it first!!!). Right from the get-go, he showed fantastic use of his body, checking all over the ice without leaving his position. He would attack and plant himself in front of the net, once leading to his first of two goals. Shift after shift, he would hustle after the puck (again, like Gallagher). He proved fantastic skating abilities, with his great speed to get passed defenders on a rush and create scoring opportunities. He had a great hit (almost from behind), which directly led to a powerplay goal. (Good job Bournival!).

Fucale: Finally, Fucale. I have never seen so many people go “poor thing” in my life in one moment (3 minutes after stepping onto the ice). First shot on net, it goes in. In his defence, it was a weird shot and there is no doubt that there was a bit of nerve involved. That aside, he showed great poise and made some very difficult saves, with great rebound control and great composure. There were a few “slips”, but nothing more than what you’d expect from an 18 year old. He made one great save on the penalty kill with a lot of traffic in front of him.

 

Case in point, we as Habs fans, should be very excited for the future! Who do you think played well? Who do you think played poorly? Let me know!

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