That was a fun exhibition game, and two points are always valuable.
But considering Ottawa looked, hands-down, like the worst team the Canadiens have played this season, maybe we’ll wait till Saturday night to draw conclusions about how this team will fare without Michael Cammalleri and, for now, Jeff Halpern.
Anaheim will be tougher. Saku Koivu will see to that.
There was a time when Daniel F. Alfredsson would see to it that Ottawa would play great hockey against the team at this end of the 417.
Not any more.
The best Senators were the third- and fourth-liners: Bobby Butler, Zack Smith, Jesse Winchester, Chris Kelly and, as always, Chris Neil.
But the F in Daniel F. seems to signify Finished.
As is Alex Kovalev. And Mike Fisher plays like he’s trying to stay healthy till the trade deadline.
The Ottawa D is soft. The goaltending pathetic.
So let’s not get too giddy.
But a W is a W.
And for the first time in a long time, the Canadiens got an opponent down and finished them off.
The play that exemplified the game: With the Canadiens leading 5-1 and two seconds left at the end of the second period, Tomas Plekanec dove to clear a puck out of the zone.
Man, what a great team guy.
Was there a better off-season signing than the deal that will keep Pleks in Montreal through 2015-’16? For $5 million per … $500,000 less than what the hapless Senators are paying Sergei Gonchar.
So much to like:
• Carey Price made 33 saves and won his 24th – matching last season’s total. And he’ll almost certainly face Jonas Hiller at the Bell Centre.
• Thank you, Garth Snow, for James Wisniewki. The power-play has become one of the league’s most dangerous, and pairing Wiz with Roman Hamrlik, the team’s best defensive defenceman, was brilliant. There are now three solid D pairings of RH and LH shots, with first pass/rockey shot guys paired with stay-at-home types.
• With Cammalleri out of the lineup, the top two lines stepped up big: Plekanec had two goals and six SoG, Scott Gomez had two assists on superb passes, playing hurt, Max Pacioretty had a goal, an assist and five shots, Brian Gionta and AK46 also scored. The Top Six had nine points.
• Benoit Pouliot returned to the lineup and opened the scoring with a laser. In Benny, Mathieu Darche and David Desharnais, the Canadiens finally have a third line that can score.
• Andreas Engqvist and Ryan White each played double-digit minutes. Engqvist helped on the PK (which allowed one shot on the 5-on-3), and White had six hits (high on both teams) and a fight.
What else is there to say?
The Canadiens played an almost perfect road game against a team that is perfectly crap and played like they want their coach fired.
Saku & Friends will be a bigger challenge.