Saturday, October 11, 2008

It's just one game, but... appears some of the Habs still haven't broken training camp.

Chris Higgins said after the final pre-season game against the Minnesota Wild that it looked as though the Wild were playing a regular season game and the Habs were playing an exhibition game.

In the case of Montreal's 2-1 shootout loss in Buffalo on Friday night, it was more like both teams were still in exhibition mode.

The three positives from the Canadiens perspective I could see was the play of Carey Price, Robert Lang and Ryan O'Byrne.

Price was outstanding, and if it weren't for a momentary lapse of sanity by Mike Komisarek (who, I should say, hasn't looked right since the start of training camp. Is it possible there's a little mater of a contract situation distracting him?) when he let a bouncing puck get through his legs at his blue line, Price would have had a shutout and the Canadiens would have had a win.

Lang looked pretty good centring a line with Tom Kostopoulos and Sergei Kostitsyn, which was easily Montreal best of the game. The only knock I would have was that he lost nine of the 15 faceoffs he took, many of which were of the important variety, but I would say Lang did pretty well in his debut. It appeared Guy Carbonneau thought so as well, because he usually rewards players he thought had a nice night at the office with the opportunity to take the first shot in the shootout. Kind of his version of the game ball, I guess.

O'Byrne, despite a few brain farts here and there, looked fantastic. If Friday night was a sign of things to come from the big man, things are definitely looking up for the Canadiens defence. O'Byrne played nearly 21 minutes and not once did I see the awkward rookie of last year and, especially, of the pre-season. O'Byrne looked confident, which to me is a great sign, even if it's only one game.

On the negative side things for me, there were quite a few that jumped out at me, but none more so than the play of Saku Koivu's line.

It seemed to me that Koivu and Alex Tanguay were a little lost while trying to find each other all night, which is what happens when you've never really played together. I still think Tanguay should be split up from Koivu, but the more they do play together the better they likely will be.

As far as Guillaume Latendresse, I don't recall ever seeing him driving the front of the net and setting up camp there, as he said he would do. To be fair, his linemates couldn't really get any sustained possessions in the offensive zone going, so Latendresse didn't have time to establish that net presence. But still, he's got to be a noticeable guy on the lip of that crease, and I didn't notice him the whole night.

However, it is only game number one and the Canadiens came out of a tough building with a point. Now, if they lose in Toronto on Saturday night, feel free to panic.

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