It was believed, naively perhaps, that the Canadian would be part of the teams disadvantaged by this new season in a new format. But after almost two weeks of playing, there is obviously no downside!
Group cohesion, or the essential “chemistry”, as we like to say in the community, was going to prove to be a problem, we thought. With so many new faces on the sweaters, it was going to take a while, maybe weeks. The Canadiens’ roster on Saturday night in Vancouver included five new skaters, club members who weren’t here the previous season.
Despite that, and following another victory over the Canucks, the Canadian is enjoying his best start to the season since 2016-17, with a 4-0-2 record, and 10 points out of a possible 12, all points obtained on enemy rinks.
The new ones obviously feel great in their new uniform.
“I prepared our team for a short camp,” explained Claude Julien on Saturday evening. I was not worried. I said, I thought we had a good team. But I’m not going to start to say how satisfied I am. We had 10 points out of 12, I’m happy, but we have things to improve. ”
Probably the coach still sees what there is to improve, indeed, but meanwhile the numbers tell us the Canadian is operating at an unexpected rate. No one else scores as many goals (average 4.8 goals per game), and above all, everyone contributes.
Because the Montreal team is betting on seven players who have collected at least one point per game, including Tyler Toffoli, the team’s top scorer with a harvest of eight points, crowned Monday first star of the week in the NHL. The forward could eclipse his best ever harvest, having scored 58 points in a normal 82-game schedule with the Los Angeles Kings in 2015-16.
Josh Anderson, who scored a single goal last season, already has three goals to his credit. Joel Edmundson, after a difficult first night in Toronto, has recovered well and has a +8 rating, second among club defenders. Alexander Romanov, barely arrived, has three games of more than 20 minutes of play since the start of the season.
“Our approach at camp, with video before training, was to show what we wanted, to be clear on what our expectations were going to be,” added Claude Julien on Saturday evening. We wanted to make sure everyone was comfortable, which made a big difference. Every day it was something new. We wanted the players to be comfortable. Talking to the new ones I felt they were comfortable. ”
We can add Corey Perry to this list, who scored in his first game on Saturday night, and we can also add reserve goaltender Jake Allen, who not only won his two starts of the season, but is also in charge of reminding everyone that this time the club management can think of giving Carey Price breaks without a problem. Because finally, there is a second who can take over without it being a disaster.
It is undoubtedly for all that that in the end, the general manager Marc Bergevin judged that it was perhaps wiser to pass his turn in the Pierre-Luc Dubois file, even before the financial considerations. First because the Columbus Blue Jackets were very greedy (the name of Nick Suzuki came up often), and then because, it is well known, we do not touch a winning formula, even if the present season is still very young.
If the Canadian maintains this rhythm in attack, he will end this season with a total of 269 goals. By way of comparison, let’s remember that the club scored 212 goals in 71 games last season …
“This is what we had hoped for with the acquisitions of all the new players,” added Claude Julien on Saturday evening. By playing every two days, it was important to have more balance and depth. We lost a good player in Armia (Thursday), and then Perry comes into the squad and scores a big goal. ”
Maybe it’s time to bring out our old parade jokes, and also our references to 1993. Who knows, that might serve well.
Harvey-Pinard keeps morale up
The Laval Rocket players have resumed training without really knowing what tomorrow will bring, and even less next week, but Rafaël Harvey-Pinard is keeping morale up.
“I was just hoping we could have a season,” the young striker explained in a video conference Monday morning. No matter who we’re going to play games against or no matter how many games, I can’t wait for it to start. ”
The problem is, in the American League, there is nothing certain. In another video call Monday, Hershey Bears coach Spencer Carberry said he didn’t expect a Calder Cup champion to be crowned this season.
So there would be a season… but no playoffs after that. Obviously things can change, however, and in the meantime, the season must begin on February 5th. A season that is already shaping up to be very different, we will understand.
“Everyone has to reinvent themselves,” added Harvey-Pinard. I was training in my living room in Blainville before coming back here with the team! It’s different and it’s a challenge, but it’s a great challenge. It will be a different calendar which will also allow for the creation of big rivalries, it will bring intensity, I think. ”
And what will be the main challenge for the Rocket players, exactly? In the NHL, the return to the game still gave rise to play whose quality was astonishing when he left…
“For all the players, I think the execution is the biggest challenge, but it’s also something that comes back quickly… I think we will be ready. ”