The Montreal Canadiens certainly missed Mike Cammalleri on Thursday’s opening game in Toronto. The winger was suspended against the Leafs following a nasty slash on The Islanders’ Nino Niederreiter during the pre-season.
During the Habs’ loss Thursday night, their top lines struggled with Tomas Plekanec, Brian Gionta and Scott Gomez kept in check. It was the Canadiens’ new acquisitions that stood out the most with Dustin Boyd and Jeff Halpern scoring in their Montreal debuts.
Defensively, the Habs played terribly Thursday night. Their opponents tonight, the Pittsburgh Penguins, will make the Habs pay if they are at fault.
The Pens are looking to bounce back from their own disappointing start, and the Habs will look like an easy target. Flyers netminder Sergei Bobrovsky shut down the duo of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin as well as the rest of the offense in the Penguins 3-2 loss on Thursday.
But even with the return of Cammalleri, the Habs still might be in for a long night.
The Habs certainly miss the presence of Andrei Markov, who is still recovering from a Matt Cooke hit during last season’s playoffs. P.K. Subban has been pinpointed by many as Montreal’s brightest star, but this is his first full NHL season. Subban might be one of the top rookies in the league, but it will take him time to lead the Canadiens’ defense.
Carey Price is in for a busy night against the deadly Pittsburgh offense. Despite Montreal’s triumphant upset against the Pens in last year’s playoffs, they only registered one regular-season victory against their opponents last season.
The Penguins have a great opportunity to get their first win at the state of the art Consol Energy Center, but the Habs will be tougher opponents than you might expect. Last season, the Habs were most effective when they were on the back foot for the majority of play. However, without Jaroslav Halak, the counter-attacking strategy may backfire.
Pens fans will be after a big win against the team who ended their team’s run at The Mellon Arena prematurely, as both teams look for their first win of the season. It is likely to be a fairly open game, however, one would have to be bold to dismiss a Pittsburgh victory tonight.