MONTREAL – The Canadiens' first outing may not have given them a win, but it did give them something to build on.
The Habs certainly didn’t get the results they were looking for in their season opener against the Leafs, but as Michel Therrien already stated prior to the start of the game; the team’s execution likely wouldn’t be perfect in their first taste of real competition. That said, once the team started to finally settle in, the positives began to stand out for the home squad.
“It’s a step in the right direction. We wish it would have been perfect, but it was a step in the right direction,” expressed the Canadiens’ head coach following Saturday night’s match-up. “The first game is behind us. Now it’s time to focus on the next one.”
While disappointed by the loss, the sentiment around the Canadiens dressing room after the match remained optimistic, with most viewing the season opener as a valuable learning experience moving forward.
“It’s the first game of the season and we’re just all trying to get on the same page right now. I’m sure we’ll figure out and work out the things we need to for the next game and be ready,” said Plekanec, while also pointing out that the Canadiens that started the game looked very different from the ones that finished it. “I thought we started playing better in the third period, we started to really push back and to win more battles in the offensive zone and that’s why we were able to score our goal at the end of the period.”
Making his debut in front of Bell Centre fans and being utilized often on the penalty-kill, former-Leaf, Colby Armstrong underlined the fact that while the Habs may not have gotten out to the best start, they got stronger the deeper they went into the match.
“If we can take anything away from this game, we’ll have to look at the last 10 minutes. We finally got some good momentum going. Brian [Gionta] played a great game and really turned it on at the end,” praised Armstrong of his captain. “We had a good forecheck and we were picking up the loose pucks. We just didn’t do it for long enough.”
Playing just over 13 minutes in Saturday’s tilt, Alex Galchenyuk received one of the loudest ovations of the evening, being treated to a warm welcome by Montreal fans during the opening ceremony.
“It was incredible. To play my first game in the NHL and hold that torch while all those fans were screaming was an unbelievable experience,” shared Galchenyuk after the game. “I felt pretty comfortable out there and tried to make adjustments as the game went on. But it’s obviously on another level. It was tough at the beginning but I started to bet more used to it as it went on. The next game will be better.”
In the end, it was perhaps Plekanec who best summarized the sentiments of the rest of his teammates.
“We can be better. We have to be better. And we will.”
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.
Boxscore: Canadiens-Maple Leafs
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