Game 1 Canadiens Leafs in the books
The Montreal Canadiens played their first game of the season last night, and believe me it was not pretty. It's always exciting when the Habs take on the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the matches are always close, even when the talent may not match up on either side. Both teams have historically brought their A game to the table. Leaving one fan base to wonder often out loud - who are these guys and why can't they play like that all the time.
Unfortunately last night was not one of those nights. In the first period, the Habs totally dominated the leafs - using their speed to draw penalties. Unfortunately, they hit a couple of posts and Reimer brought his A game to the table. The Leafs were lucky and probably relieved to get out of the first frame unscathed.
The Habs started the second period with a power play that gave up a goal (powerless play?) when Subban got caught behind the Leafs net, leaving Tomas Plekanec as the only man back. The resulting two-on-one had Matthew Lombardi score in his first game as a Leaf, a shorty no less, and brought the Leafs crowd and the team to life, deflating the Canadiens. The rest of the period showed a definite lack of intensity on the visitors' side - either everyone was trying not to make a mistake or the curse of the second period on this Habs team reared its ugly head again (they are, after all, essentially the same team as last year, so why should that change?).
The third period was a back and forth affair with Phaneuf scoring on a beautiful shot to beat Price, essentially sealing the deal for the Leafs. The Habs came to life part-way through the third period, but Reimer shut the door earning his first shutout of the season in his first game.
The special teams on both teams were on display last night. The Leafs penalty killing is much improved with Steckel taking over 75% of his faceoffs and he was obviously perfect on the night. The Habs penalty killing was also perfect, killing off a five-on-three for over a minute. The powerplay for both teams needs more work to be sure but showed some good signs. The Habs powerplay gave up a shorthanded goal - the game winner as it were. A question to Jacques Martin - why Plekanec on the point with PK going behind the net? Sheesh.
The Leafs played a sound game, showed up prepared and skated with the Habs. A big question remains for the Montreal Canadiens - when a single goal is scored on them, is the game over? Last night it was.