The Montreal Canadiens returned to the Bell Centre last night after a give game road trip through California that ended in Columbus the previous night.
Here are 24 thoughts on the Habs game vs division rival Florida Panthers.
First Period Thoughts
Cayden Primeau gets the start against another great team. He might not play often, but he is not being sheltered after facing the New Jersey Devils, Vegas Golden Knights and Detroit Red Wings in his first three starts. He did get to face the San Jose Sharks which was a nice break for the kid, but the Panthers are another tough test.
Josh Anderson has an eventful and successful first shift. He kept the puck in at blue line with some nice hand-eye as he knocked a Panthers breakout pass out of midair and gained possession. Then he got in on the forecheck and laid a heavy bodycheck on a Panthers defender. Finally, he drew a penalty as the defender he hit cross checked him as retaliation.
Good to see Juraj Slafkovsky and Jesse Ylonen get a little power play time. It was with the second unit but they fired the puck around confidently before getting a shot on goal from the point. Those two young players deserve a longer look on the man advantage. I hope they are featured prominently in the team’s top nine at even strength going forward as well.
Slafkovsky broke down the wing on a 2-on-1 and will get criticized for trying to force a pass instead of firing a shot on goal. But like, he was trying to pass to Cole Caufield and if that puck gets to him he will put it in the net so it isn’t that bad of a decision.
The Panthers completely obliterated the Canadiens for the past couple seasons if I remember correctly. As in, automatic goalie pull, let in half a dozen at least and get embarrassed. Let’s hope that is not the case tonight.
The Canadiens second power play is an adventure. They got a couple of chances but they came off the rush and they allowed a couple of 2-on-1s the other way. Mike Matheson made a nice play to break up the first one (though he almost knocked it into his own net and Primeau made a great save on him) and Alex Newhook’s tremendous speed got him into position to break up the second one. You don’t want to see the other team getting chances while shorthanded but if they do you admire the effort of Matheson and Newhook when they break it up.
Josh Anderson gets absolutely hauled down by a sprawling defenseman while on a clear breakaway and there is no call for a penalty shot. Why don’t referees call penalty shots more often? They know this is an entertainment business and penalty shots are far more entertaining than the Canadiens power play.
Primeau was pretty sharp in the opening period. He did not get tested a lot, but there were some good chances for the Panthers and he looks so confident and calm in the net this season. Kicks pucks out of harm’s way or gobbles up rebounds. He makes good reads to stay square to the puck and isn’t diving around the crease like we saw from him sometimes in the past. He’s a keeper as far as I am concerned and Jake Allen needs to go.