Senators - Canadiens: A Big Game From Gionta Leads Habs to Preseason Win

Rocket All HabsCorrespondent ISeptember 19, 2009

Preseason: Montreal vs. Ottawa: 2-1 (Bell Centre)

posted by Rocket

It's preseason. I'm not going to do a full game-by-game analysis just yet. But you missed hockey, and so did we at All Habs.

It's tempting to over-analyze the preseason games and offer predictions. We'll try to keep that in check. But based on observations of training camp and the first two games, there are some encouraging signs.

Its obvious that the 2009-10 Canadiens are a different team in terms of personnel, but there also seems to be a different attitude among the players and atmosphere in the locker room. We'll look back on the summer activities and what's ahead for the Habs this season (watch for habsbloggergirl's series) in preparation for the opener on Oct. 1.

But for now, a quick look at tonight's game versus Ottawa.

This was not an exciting game to watch. For now, let's chalk it up to preseason and the fact that five regulars were in the line-up for the Canadiens. But, if fans have to watch this style of play come November, Jacques Martin will not be a popular guy.

Brian Gionta, deservedly, was the first star of the game. Gionta had six shots on net, the winning goal and was effective at both ends of the ice. The line of Gionta, Plekanec and Pacioretty played well with obvious chemistry.

Ben Maxwell showed patience and scored a pretty goal to tie the game in the second period. Maxwell's development is bad news for Kyle Chipchura and may put pressure on Max Lapierre.

Eric Neilson did his best to impress with two deserved fighting majors (with a bonus third major for being tackled). Two non-staged fights for Neilson is precisely two more than Georges Laraques had all last season. Let's hope that Laraques' strategy to pre-arrange meaningless sideshow tilts will be dropped this season.

Its not a surprise that Hal Gill was slow but balance was a problem tonight too. Let's hope he stays back and clears the front of the net. Shawn Belle skates well and has the body build, but his inconsistent positional play means he is not ready for the big club. Paul Mara had four shots and led the team in time-on-ice.

The stat sheet will show that the Canadiens scored a power-play goal, but the PP definitely needs work. Yannick Weber's cannon from the point was definitely under-utilized.

It was a good showing for Curtis Sanford. Let's just say that after a strong start, it was a forgettable game for Jaroslav Halak. He was fortunate that the Senators hit the post four times or the result could have been very different. Lateral movement is still a concern.

For two games in a row, newcomers (Gionta, Cammalleri and Gomez) have led the Canadiens to victory. Is it enough to win over Bob Gainey haters? Time will tell.


"A"'s on the sweaters of: Brian Gionta, Hal Gill, Glen Metropolit

Official three stars:

1. Brian Gionta
2. Tomas Plekanec
3. Jason Spezza

(photo credit: AP)


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