Last night's game at the Bell Centre against the Tampa Bay Lightning was the closest thing so far to a regular season game in terms of lineup and flow and the one positive we can take away from last night's 4-0 loss is that it still is a preseason game and counts for nothing.
Scott Gomez watches as Tampa Bay goaltender Dwayne Roloson lunges for puck in Montreal last night. Photo: AP
Missed assignments, lack of finishing and a couple of other bounces leave the Habs looking for answers as we near the start of the season. I mean when you have a two-man power play for practically a full 2 minutes and fail to score, you know there's still work to do.
Peter Budaj got the start and was shaky right from the onset; probably the most astute and entertaining moment of the game came when RDS' colour man Marc Denis, standing next to Carey Price in between the two benches, commented that "... here's something you won't see very often this year -- Carey Price sitting next to me." True dat.
To his defense Budaj was screened on Stamkos' second goal in the first period by David Desharnais, who's probably still wondering why he was standing in front of his own goal on that play, but Budaj was as loose as a Vegas slot machine. Soft rebounds, swiss-cheese holey, bad execution. He'll take his spot next to Denis and probably won't look back from there. The Habs should have been down 3-0 if it weren't for a quick whistle on a Vincent Lecavallier slapper that dribbled through Budaj to roll into the net. On the other side Dwayne Roloson -- the only player left in the NHL born in the Sixties, was sucking those up with ease like a Dyson on dirt.
I guess there were a couple of positives from this game:
1) The Canadiens did have some good scoring chances, but just didn't bury them. That'll come;
2) Chris Campoli played in his first game as a Hab, and was solid;
3) Josh Gorges fell awkwardly on his repaired knee in the third period, but got up without issue.
Meanwhile Andrei Markov meets with his doctors today to find out where he's at. He's skating, just not with the team as yet. Get well Andrei, we need you.
Now the team heads to Quebec City to play the same Tampa squad to finish out the preseason. The Habs are 1-6 in the season that counts for nothing. It all begins in earnest in Toronto October 6.
ON ANOTHER NOTE:
MLB is heading towards its postseason and it is now apparent -- to me at least -- that the pendulum is starting to swing the other way for Boston sports teams. The Red Sox's epic collapse gives me hope that all the bad karma from the Bruins last year is slowly beginning to even out this year. Finger-pointing in Boston abounds and now reports indicate that former Expo Terry Francona is going to be fired as Red Sox head coach.
And to top if off, the Atlanta Braves (the team of the 90's -- phooey) also completed an epic collapse of their own, losing the wild card on the last game of the season to the St. Louis Cardinals.
I don't really hate the Red Sox like I do the Bruins, but dem Braves -- dem bums got what they deserved!!
When's that new stadium being built in Montreal, btw? :)