With the first game jitters out of the way, it doesn't get any easier for the Canadiens in their second game of the season. After losing a tight one to their longtime rivals from Toronto on Thursday, the Habs have arrived in Pittsburgh. Awaiting them is a Penguins team with a burning fire in their belly, and I'm not making any references to flatulence.
Sid The Kid and company were knocked out by Jacques Martin's crew in the second round of last years playoffs and it looks like a few Pens still have that sour taste in their mouths.
They also have extra motivation after being beaten by the Philadelphia Flyers in their new building on opening night. Let's just say this isn't the type of sleeping beast you want to awaken. Two years removed from a Stanley Cup championship and the Pittsburgh Penguins are still a very young and dangerous team.
No. 13 Returns
One key element to that second round series will be returning to the lineup after serving a one game suspension, Michael Cammalleri will look to ignite a powerplay that went zero for three versus the Leafs. As well as some first-line scoring to a Habs squad that saw it's bottom two centers Dustin Boyd and Jeff Halpern light up the lamp on Thursday.
The University of Michigan product scored 26 goals in 65 games last season, that's 32 goals in 82 games if you do the cross multiplying math. Entering his sixth year as a full time NHLer, Cammalleri also led all scorers in last years playoffs with 13 goals.
One of the purest snipers in the league, the Richmond Hill native will look to demonstrate his quick release and accurate shot on Saturday evening.
It's more than likely that Jacques Martin will pair him with usual line-mates Andrei Kostitsyn and Tomas Plekanec when the puck drops at the Console Energy Center. One could also believe that he will be matched up with team captain Brian Gionta and Scott Gomez, considering Benoit Pouliot isn't necessarily in Coach Martin's good graces at the time being.
Boyd, Eller and Subban Impress
Scoring the first goal of the season for your team is somewhat of a meaningless achievement, for Dustin Boyd it's 10 goals remaining to tie his career best of 11. The Calgary Flames draft pick looked at ease in his first game with the Habs, creating chances for his team and often causing problems for the vigorous Toronto blue line.
Lars Eller also looked very cozy in only his eighth NHL contest, hitting some very smooth strides on the ice and connecting with his line-mates quite a few times. His best opportunity was stopped by Stanley Cup winning goaltender J-S Giguere as Eller tried a reverse backhand while kneeling in the slot.
P.K. Subban rounds out our trio of notable opening night players, this isn't surprising considering the level of potential this young man has. ''Primetime'' logged in over 22 minutes of ice-time in the Habs loss and looked very comfortable throughout the match. Often pinching in, constructing plays and making beautiful tape to tape passes up the middle.
Game 2 of 82: Three Significant Keys To Success
The Leafs went zero for five on the power-play Thursday and this trend must absolutely continue if the Canadiens want to limit the damage Pittsburgh will likely inflict if given the opportunity.
With players like Letang, Crosby, and Malkin, there will be no room for error in terms of penalty killing. Covering that high slot will be essential as a lot of Pittsburgh's goals on the power play happen exactly from that spot. Collapsing the box will likely cause the Canadiens more harm than anything else.
Even though the Habs did not convert on any of their chances against the Leafs, having two solid power play lines will serve them well. Spreading the play and cutting off butter finger syndrome at the blue line will be imperative.
Limit The Turnovers
A goal is a goal, best way to prevent it from happening again is to breakdown the play. If we look at the three from Thursday, they were literally given to the Maple Leafs in every sense of the term.
Sometimes the easy play is the way to go, if the flow is saying dump the puck, you do so. By supporting each other on the ice and creating adequate passing opportunities, Montreal can ultimately reduce their turnover ratio.
This will do wonders for them against heavy fore-checking teams like the Penguins.