Today concluded another week of preseason training camp for the Montreal Canadiens. The players are looking stronger than at the start, but after the first two preseason game struggles it is hard to see the improvement they have worked so hard on achieving. This week the Habs had many ups, downs and in-betweens.
The first preseason game was with the Buffalo Sabres at the Bell Centre. There were two players that really impressed me during this game. One was forward prospect Michael Bournival, who scored 2 goals that game. Another player was defenceman Jarred Tinordi. His defence skills for stopping and passing the puck to other players amazed me, along with his speed that has been his improvement focus over the summer. If it weren’t for his speed improvement and top four defenceman Alexei Emelin injured, he might have been among the many players who got cut after the second preseason game.
Continuing with the first game, I found goalie Peter Budaj was a bit rusty letting in a few goals, but I also found prospect goalie Zachary Fucale was a little off until he brought the team into a shoot-out where the Habs ended up losing with a score of 5-4.
Game two took place the next night with the Boston Bruins coming to town. This game was tough for the Montreal Canadiens. It felt like the Bruins out skated them, especially in the first period. A lot of penalties were given to some expected players like Ryan White and Jarred Tinordi. Some lesser expected penalties were taken by prospects like Stefan Fournier, who should have been playing more to keep a spot with the team then anything else.
After the game the team made many cuts. Among those cuts for the Canadiens: Zachary Fucale, Charles Hudon, Sven Andrighetto, Stefan Fournier, Martin Reway, Matt Lashoff, Robert Mayer, Connor Crisp, Jeremy Gregoire, Tim Bozon, Stephen Macaulay, Erik Nyström, Joonas Nattinen, Morgan Ellis, Darren Dietz, Dalton Thrower and Louis Leblanc.
They day after hearing Leblanc’s cut his pro tennis player girlfriend (probably soon to be ex) took to twitter bashing the Canadiens organization. She wrote, “He did everything the CH organization told him to do and what…got cut this early?! Oh and the reason…worst reason ever!! This is wrong.” Later on coach Therrien said the reason was so they could take a closer look at other prospects to see how they would do.
Out of all the players cut, I was disappointed to see Connor Crisp dismissed so early. Watching the training practice I found he had many good practices and even at the second on third scrimmage he managed to get a hat trick.
During the training camp this past week, all the players that were left started looking better. However, there were a couple of collisions that managed to injure another two of the many already-injured players. So adding to the five already injured players: Brian Gionta, Alexei Emelin, Steven Quailer, George Parros and Nathan Beaulieu. Newbie Douglas Murray is out with a lower body injury, Francis Bouillon received a lower body injury and Davis Drewiske received a shoulder injury caused by a collision at the boards and is out for four weeks.
The good news regarding injuries is that Alexei Emelin has skated every day this past week and is looking stronger. Along with the teams captain Brian Gionta is practicing in a ‘contact’ jersey which means he is expected to return before the preseason is over or during opening night against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Due to many injuries in the defence line, the Canadiens recalled Darren Dietz up from the Hamilton Bulldogs training camp to play some more preseason games.
Looking beyond last week, the Canadiens are going to use their remaining exhibition games as a dress rehearsal for the regular season so they can start of strong and hopefully make it into the playoffs.
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