OTTAWA - The Canadiens traveled to Ottawa looking to break a three-game losing streak to start the preseason, but came up short.
With a complement of mostly younger players making the trip down the 417 to face the Senators, the Habs had difficulty executing and came out on the losing end of a 5-1 decision on Saturday night.
As Karl Alzner would tell it, the large number of players jumping in and out of the lineup in training camp might be having an impact on chemistry and on perfecting the system, even if it does provide an opportunity for those players to gain some experience at the NHL level.
"[Chemistry] is definitely something that comes as soon as things get whittled down and we practice more and watch more video on it," Alzner said of the eventual paring down of the roster as the regular season gets closer. "I'm a good example of it; I came from a system that was quite a bit different and it's taken time to learn."
Video: Alzner on team chemistry
In his second game of the preseason, the veteran blueliner took a team-high 26 shifts alongside Jordie Benn, registering a shot on net and a minus-one rating. Alzner agreed that a lack of cohesion may have impacted his squad's ability to get the job done.
"We had a tough time with execution on both ends of the puck and making plays out of the zone, in the offensive zone and positioning," he explained."You can tell we're just a little bit in between.
"You always think of chemistry as offensive chemistry. You don't necessarily think about it in the neutral zone or the defensive zone and that seems to be what we're missing right now."
Head coach Claude Julien acknowledged that it can be a challenge to try to bring a big group of individuals together in a short period of time and expect them to be on the same page on the ice.
"It's difficult when you have a lot of AHL players, it's a lot of new players at once. When they come in one at a time, it's an easy adjustment onto the team. For several of them, it was all new, which explains why some of them didn't do the right thing in certain situations," outlined Julien, whose club announced after the game that four players - Brett Lernout, Daniel Audette, Jeremy Gregoire and David Broll - had been cut from camp. "It can ruin other people's rhythm, but it happens. On the hockey side, you have to look at things objectively and see the positives we were expecting to see from certain players."
Video: Condensed Game: Canadiens @ Senators
The Canadiens were offered plenty of chances to generate some offense with the man advantage, but couldn't capitalize and went 0-for-7, while the Senators managed to slip a power play goal by starter Al Montoya as the third period got down to the final minute.
On the other hand, the Habs enjoyed another solid performance from Charles Hudon, who continued to make his case for remaining with the team by scoring the lone goal for Montreal off a well-placed feed from Tomas Plekanec.
Video: MTL@OTT: Hudon, Plekanec put Canadiens on the board
Hudon was by far Montreal's best forward, recording five shots on net and a blocked shot in 17:43 of ice time. Despite now leading the team in preseason goals with two and looking like a natural on a line with Plekanec and Artturi Lehkonen, Hudon was mindful of staying grounded and recognizing that the work has only just begun.
"It's tough to see the good after that kind of a loss. We made some nice plays throughout the game. The three of us were good together on the power play. I made some small mistakes that I have to improve on. It definitely wasn't my best game," he concluded. "I always want to do more."