The Montreal Canadiens 2017-18 season home opener is Tuesday, October 10th, against the Chicago Blackhawks. The habs are in Montreal after three games on the road. The first game of the season pitted the Canadiens against the Buffalo Sabres. In an exciting game, the Canadiens were victorious in a shootout. Jonathan Drouin with a slick deke put the puck past Sabres netminder Robin Lehner for a 3-2 Shoot Out win.
That has been the sole bright spot in this young season. The next two games for the Canadiens were losses. They got throttled by the Washington Capitals 6-1. While they put forth a much better effort defensively, they still lost to the New York Rangers 2-0 on Sunday.
Scoring has been an issue for the Canadiens. They’ve had chances but they haven’t been able to finish. Defensively, the team has struggled. The Habs been scored on ten times in three games, with six goals in one. If not for Carey Price, it could have been many more.
Canadiens Home Opener
October 10, 2017, is a date that’s been circled on Habs Nation calendars since the schedule was released. It’s the day of the Canadiens home opener vs. the Chicago Blackhawks. Both teams have made roster changes since their last meeting.
The excitement of the home opener is unwavering. But with the Canadiens poor defensive play in the first 3 games, there are questions abounding through Habs Nation. Will the Habs ever score? Can the Habs correct the poor defensive play?
First, let’s meet the 2017-18 Chicago Blackhawks. The Hawks come into the tilt with Patrick Kane and Ryan Hartman leading the Hawks offense with six points each. Kane has two goals and four assists and Hartman one goal and five assists. In his second stint with Chicago, Brandon Saad has four goals and one assist for five points. While in net Corey Crawford has been nails between the pipes, he’s 2-0 with a 1.00 GAA and .968 SV%.
Gone from last years roster is 45 point man Marion Hossa. He is out due to an allergic reaction from his equipment. Artemi Panarin who is gone, part of the trade that brought Saad back to Chicago from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Netminder Scott Darling was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes.
At 2-0 the Hawks along with the St. Louis Blues sit atop the Central Division. The Hawks are hitting on all cylinders with 15 goals for and two goals against for a +13. The defense led by Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are in shut down mode. In the Hawks first game, they throttled the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins 10-1. Then they handled the Blue Jackets 5-1.
The Hawks are winning the play along the boards and in front of the net.Crawford has had a clear view of incoming shots. After the initial save the defense is moving the rebound out of harms way and to the forwards so they can go on the attack. By winning the boards battle they are coming away with the puck. They are then moving it out quickly to their talented forward corps.
Offensively the Hawks have been in can’t miss mode. With 15 goals in two games, game 3 is 10/9 vs the Toronto Maple Leafs. It’s a small sample size but with seven players averaging over a point a game, it seems like the Blackhawks offense of old is back. It is a complete 180 from last years playoff debacle against the Nashville Predators. The Hawks have carried the play thanks to puck control, being stellar defensively and scoring at an amazing clip. If their play continues throughout the season it could be trouble for the rest of the league, plus maybe another title in their cap.
The Canadiens played a pretty feisty game in the season opener in a thrilling 3-2 SO win. Then the wheels fell off their little blue, white, and red wagon. Alex Ovechkin torched them with four goals and the defense was in complete disarray (more on this in a later feature). With three goals in the first 2:51 Ovechkin completed his hat-trick by the end of the first period. A much better defensive effort came against the Rangers.
Brendan Gallagher is leading the Canadiens scoring with two points on one goal and one assist. Max Pacioretty and Phillip Danault have one goal apiece. Shea Weber, Paul Byron, Karl Alzner and Jonathan Drouin round out the scoring with one assist each. The offense has had its chances, Weber has posted a couple of bombs and Holtby and Lundqvist stood on their on several shots each. Weber also had a goal called back on a bad goaltender interference call. If those go in the Canadiens record would be quite different.
Defensively Weber has been his usual top-flight self and his partner the majority of the time Victor Mete have been bright spots. Mete made the club out of training camp, he’s made rookie mistakes but his overall play has been solid. The rest of the defensive corps has looked slow and positionally challenged. It has led to far too many chances and in turn too many goals. If not for Price the -7 goal differential would be greater.
The tilt between the Canadiens and Blackhawks on paper looks to a Hawks blowout. You can count on the Hawks to come out flying and chocked full of confidence. Canadiens head coach Claude Julien will see that the Habs play better defensively. Maybe this is the game the Canadiens are on the right side of the bounces offensively. If they crowd the front of the net and keep putting pucks on net good things should happen. After 2 bad games, the Canadiens feel they have something to prove. I feel this game will be a turn around game for the Canadiens. I predict a hard fought 3-2 Canadiens home opener win.