(Toronto) – Clearly not the outcome that Habs fans were looking for in their home opener, but not something to be completely disappointed with.
In the end, there are definitely some concerns, but there was also much to be happy with as well. And fans didn’t have to look too far to see some of those positives.
In the first game back for both teams, the pace was quick from the get-go. There was extremely good puck movement and plenty of scoring opportunities for both squads. Both Reimer and Price looked strong, although Price had a few moments where he looked unsettled.
But even as van Riemsdyk opened the scoring for Toronto, the Bell Center crowd of 21,273 didn’t lose hope. They continued to find a way to inspire their team and they were not disappointed.
So that gets us to the things to keep faith about. The line of Gallagher, Eller, and Galchenyuk proved to be difference makers. Eller(2G, 1A), making his debut after suffering a season ending injury in the playoffs last year, seemed to inspire the two sophomore players. That line was responsible for all three Montreal goals. Raphael Diaz was strong as well on the blue line.
PK Subban continued to display his power from the point, as he was fed pucks into his wheelhouse, released with blistering speed. Andre Markov showed his incredible vision with his outlying passes.
Where things changed was on the special teams display, and also in the Habs ability to show discipline. Something that has been an issue with this franchise for the past few years.
Lack of discipline led to seven Powerplay opportunities to the Leafs last night, and although only one of those opportunities ended up with a puck in the back of the net (opening goal by van Riemsdyke), being shorthanded for fourteen minutes out of sixty is generally not a good idea.
Where things did not look as pretty would be in the inconclusive return of George Parros after receiving a concussion during his second fight with Colton Orr. After knocking Orr down, Parros came over the top of him and went face first into the ice.
That led to a stretcher ride to the ambulance, an ambulance ride to the hospital, and an indefinite sabbatical from the line-up. He was not the only concussion of the night either, which will most likely result in deeper discussions as we move deeper into the season.
Through it all, Montreal looked strong. Despite injury, Max Pacioretty continues to show how strong he is, by reminding everyone why he is nicknamed “Wolverine”. Brian Gionta reminded us all why he is the Captain of this team. Travis Moen proved why he belongs in le Bleu, Blanc, et Rouge.
It’s only game one, and yes, it was a loss. But I have to say, it was one of the most palatable losses I’ve witnessed in years.