Even if the NHL preseason doesn’t count, Montreal Canadiens fans would like at least one good takeaway from the team’s two-win, tied-for-worst-in-the-Atlantic record. It’s safe to say owning the tiebreaker for fewer games played (but with one fewer win) relative to last-place Toronto probably won’t cut it.
So here are three other positives in a preseason largely devoid of them:
Canadiens Outshoot the Opposition
The Canadiens are actually picking up right where they left off during the playoffs. Even though they were eliminated, from a shots-for perspective that’s actually a good thing.
After outpossessing the opposition in eight of 12 playoffs games, the Canadiens outshot the opposition in four of the seven games and 197-174 overall this preseason. Granted, two of those games were against the Ottawa Senators and another against Toronto, but at least fans know the Habs have the propensity to show up against division rivals… even if they ended up 1-3 against Atlantic teams.
David Desharnais Has Been Producing
It’s only three games, and three preseason games at that, but David Desharnais leads the team with four points. That has to be an encouraging sign for the team, when Desharnais has traditionally come under fire for not delivering consistently.
Add in the fact that he’s been doing it playing on a line without Max Pacioretty (Tomas Fleischmann and Dale Weise), and maybe, just maybe Desharnais centering the third line will work out just fine. Averaging 12:30 per game, he’s also been scoring, while playing less than Lars Eller did in the same role last year (15:29).
Technically Pacioretty’s line, with Tomas Plekanec and Brendan Gallagher, has been the quietest with just two points between them. Ideally, all three lines would be producing. However one has to believe that any line featuring the team’s traditionally most dangerous forward is going to break through eventually.
When that happens, with the second Alex Galchenyuk-centered line looking damn-near dominant at times, the Canadiens might be on the verge of regaining their offensive mojo from just a few seasons ago, when they finished fourth with 3.04 goals per game in 2012-13.
Underrated Organizational Depth
It’s not necessarily a good problem for general manager Marc Bergevin to have. However, it can’t be considered a horrible one, faced with the dilemma of potentially having to trade away a top prospect in Jarred Tinordi. It just goes to show that this team doesn’t have many if any roster spots to spare.
Whether it’s the pleasant surprise that is current-third-stringer Mike Condon or forward Michael McCarron surpassing expectations in his development (as just two examples), the Canadiens as an organization are clearly in good shape for the future.
The same can be said as the result of the Canadiens as a team possessing an elite player at every position in Pacioretty, Carey Price and P.K. Subban, each of whom is presumably far from exiting their respective primes.
In short, the Habs are primed to contend for many years, as well as right now… regardless of their preseason record.