It’s hard to generate storylines this early in the pre-season but Monday’s tilt between the New Jersey Devils & Montreal Canadiens had some talking points. It was our first look at Taylor Hall in a Devils uniform and even in the pre-season it’s always nice to watch a player of his skill. It was also our first look at some of New Jersey’s young defensemen, a couple of whom we might see more of this year as they have a couple open spots on their blue line. This was a split-squad game for them, so most of their regular players were back in Newark taking on the Flyers, but one of their potential first line made the trip to Montreal & they impressed in what ended up being a 3-2 win.
As for the Habs, a handful of their regular forwards dressed for this game and even though they took the loss, they got a couple of impressive showings from some of their own young forwards.
Special teams battle for the most part and the Devils ended up on the winning side, scoring twice on the power play. Montreal had a slight edge in terms of shots & chances, though but the extended time they had on the power play probably influenced it a little.
Among younger forwards, Arturri Lehkonen made a good impression this game. Playing on a line with Brendan Gallagher & Alex Galchenyuk will help almost anyone, but Lehkonen took advantage of the space they were creating, getting open in the offensive zone and creating chances on his own off turnovers. You can see in the chart above that he was pretty versatile in terms of how he was generating offense, getting tips and jumping on rebounds. Easily one of the most noticeable players on the Habs.
New Jersey Shots
I’m not sure if Hall, Henrique & Smith-Pelly will stay together come October, but they showed some chemistry this game with Henrique doing excellent work as a play-maker. He was easily the first star of the game thanks to his two power play goals, but his work at even strength alone was pretty impressive. It will be interesting to see how he does playing alongside Hall this year because they could be a very dangerous combination.
Not much to point out here other than the Devils first line and Henrique standing out as a play-maker again. Brendan Gallagher’s not to shabby either.
Montreal Pass Zones
The Habs moved the puck back to the point quite a bit and Petry was a key part of their offense, leading all blue liners in shot assists. Not a huge surprise given the personnel they were dressing.
New Jersey Pass Zones
If you’re wondering who made the great pass through the slot on New Jersey’s third goal, that was Andrew MacWilliam, a 26-year old defenseman who will likely start this year in the AHL. He actually made another play similar to this later in the third period, hooking up with Vern Fiddler for a potential scoring chance that was blocked. He is a long shot to make the team but he got me to notice him so there’s that.
Quick transition & speed through the neutral zone is a big part of the Habs game, so it’s not a surprise to see them have a high Carry-in percentage.Their performance here was pretty solid overall, as they were creating a decent number of shots off entries.
Montreal Zone Entries
Solid game for the Habs top-six despite not seeing much of a reward on the score-sheet. Not a huge surprise considering it consists of guys who should be in the NHL next year, but it’s nice to see Lehkonen not look out of place.
New Jersey Zone Entries
In shocking news, Hall led the Devils in entires. He wasn’t quite in mid-season form, as he dumped the puck in on half of them, but it’s clear who their go-to guy is in the neutral zone. He does a lot of one-man rushes so I wouldn’t expect this to change at all throughout the year. McLeod had a solid game on the third line, as well.
Montreal Zone Entry Defense
New Jersey Zone Entry Defense
Montreal Zone Exits
New Jersey Zone Exits