Montreal Canadiens vs. Florida Panthers @ Bell Centre – September 29, 2017

As this was a preseason game you couldn’t read much into it. That being said, there was still stuff to be learned. One was that yes, undersized, 19-year-old defenseman Victor Mete is going to be a good player in the NHL. This was his first game not alongside the behemoth that is Shea Weber and it showed a little. Alongside Jordie Benn there were some tougher moments, but there were plenty of others that showed his hockey sense, passing acumen and great skating. I think giving him a taste of the NHL with 9 early season games and then sending him back to junior is the prudent thing to do. He still has some filling out and developing to do before he can be an everyday NHLer. Though, mark my words, this kid will be in the NHL shortly.

Michael McCarron has done nothing to prove to me that he can be a full time NHLer. Frustrating as you heard he trained hard this summer, dropped some weight and got a little faster in his skating. None of that has been demonstrated in the preseason. Shocking for a guy who should be making the jump to the big league and be playing like a young man wanting to prove his worth. With that big body he could bring a whole new dimension to the team. In the preseason, Jacob de la Rose has moved ahead of him in the depth chart in my estimation. Another wasted 1st round pick by the Canadiens? I am not ready to completely give up on him yet, but…

Charles Hudon, though he did not play a great game, has done enough in the preseason to show he is NHL worthy. Playing most of the time on a line with Tomas Plekanec and Artturi Lehkonen he has caught fans’ eyes. His offensive skills are obvious and Hudon has also shown that despite the fact that he is not a big man he is willing to get his nose dirty going into corners and behind the net to dig out pucks. The combo of hard work and skill has all but guaranteed that he will start the season with the big club. About time!

hkn-panthers-canadiens-20170929Given minutes and decent linemates Paul Byron is a solid offensive player. He might never score as many goals as he did last season, but he will pot his share. The two goals he scored on this evening, one even strength and another shorthanded, reinforced that. On the first goal of the game in the 1st period he went to the front of the net and ably chipped the nice Andrew Shaw pass up and over a moving Roberto Luongo. The shorthanded marker in the 2nd was all about his speed and the nice hands to slide the puck under the Panthers’ veteran netminder. He will once again provide the team with secondary scoring behind Max Pacioretty, Jonathan Drouin and (?) Alex Galchenyuk.

The question mark before Galchenyuk’s name has pretty much been there since his return from injury last season. He started off the 2016-17 season as one of the top 10 scorers in the league and then he hurt his knee in a game against the Los Angeles Kings. After he came back he was not the same player. Finishing the season so poorly that in the playoffs he played wing on the 4th line. All eyes are on the mercurial Russian-American forward. The guy has talent – hands, a wicked shot and vision. That has not been evident in the preseason games he has played so far. Fans are getting a little worried. I am worried in that I wonder where he is going to be slotted in by coach Claude Julian. Julian and GM Marc Bergevin seem resolute in their assertion that this guy is not a center, so the assumption is that he will play on the wing. Galchenyuk is a skilled player; he has to play on a line with other skilled players. For me he play on the right side on the 1st line with Drouin and Pacioretty. If not, I worry where.

usa_today_10315072.0Young goaltender Charlie Lindgren played the entire game (Zachary Fucale was called back up from Laval to be his back-up) and only allowed one goal on 23 shots. The one goal by He was steady and made a couple tough saves. The guy is a battler. And ignoring contract issues, he has played much better than Al Montoya in the preseason, so deserves to start the season as Carey Price’s back-up. That probably won’t happen because of the aforementioned contract issues, so he will be the number one in the club’s AHL Laval side.

After 6 straight preseason losses the bleu-blanc-rouge had their first victory. Fans can stop the pushing of the panic button. A solid win against a side that dressed most of their NHL line-up. After the game, Montreal put Daniel Carr (did not play) and Peter Holland (who played a decent game) on waivers and Jakuk Jerabek (who showed signs of being a nice offensive defenseman) and Michael McCarron were sent to Laval Rockets.

cutNext up for Montreal is their last preseason game on Saturday night at the Bell Centre against the Ottawa Senators. The line-up will be a good indication of how Julien intends to start the season.

Here are my lines and defense pairings to start the season:




Byron-Mitchell/Holland/de la Rose-Hemsky





Game Stats:

-On-Ice Officials: Referees – Justin St. Pierre and Francois St-Laurent

Linesmen – Derek Nansen and Michel Cormier

-Goals: 1st Period:

13:32:  Montreal – Paul Byron assisted by Andrew Shaw and Phillip Danault

17:00:  Florida – Evgenii Dadonov assisted by Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov

2nd Period:

10:25:  Montreal – (sh) Paul Byron assisted by Andreas Martinsen and Jeff Petry

3rd Period:

1:13:  Montreal – Andrew Shaw assisted by Jordie Benn and Phillip Danault

-Shots on Goal:  Montreal – 23

Florida – 23

-3 Stars:  1)  Paul Byron – Montreal

2) Andrew Shaw – Montreal

3)  Charlie Lindgren – Montreal


-Final Score:  Montreal – 3

Florida – 1

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