The Canadian Press
MONTREAL–Canadiens’ coach Claude Julien says making cuts throughout training camp hasn’t been as difficult as he expected.
Julien was left unimpressed by several of his young players after Montreal’s 4-1 pre-season defeat at the hands of the New Jersey Devils last night.
Montreal has lost all three of its exhibition games so far.
“Right now there are players who are making our decisions much easier than we thought they would,” said Julien.
“That’s obvious enough, without naming any names,” he noted.
“We were expecting some harder decisions.”
Forwards like Michael McCarron, Jacob de la Rose, Daniel Carr, or Nikita Sherbak, who each conceivably could crack the Canadiens’ lineup, did little to convince Julien they were ready for the NHL.
Those four players combined for just two shots against the Devils.
“There’s a group of players who are fighting for the spots that are open right now and that group is making our decisions a lot easier,” Julien reiterated.
Montreal announced after the game that Niki Petti, Yannick Veilleux, Stefan Leblanc, Simon Bourque, Thomas Ebbing, Antoine Waked, and Tom Parisi were assigned to training camp with the AHL’s Laval Rocket.
One player that could force Julien’s hand is defenceman Eric Gelinas, who’s on a professional tryout with the Habs.
Gelinas made his case to stay in the NHL by beating Keith Kinkaid with a shot from the point on the power play at 7:09 of the second period.
The 26-year-old Gelinas, who was drafted by the Devils in the second round in 2009, finished the game with four shots, one hit, and four penalty minutes.
“I tried to show what I can do out there,” noted Gelinas, who split his time last season between the Colorado Avalanche and their AHL team.
“It’s never enough,” he stressed. “You have to do it over and over again, whether it’s in practice or games.
“Especially in my situation, with no contract, it’s a work in progress,” he conceded.
“But I think it’s going in the right direction.”
After Gelinas scored to make it 1-1, Nico Hischier broke the tie in the second period and the Devils never looked back.
The first-overall pick at this year’s draft deflected Taylor Hall’s centering pass between Carey Price’s legs for his second goal of the pre-season at 15:30 of the middle frame.
“I’m getting more comfortable every day,” said the 18-year-old Hischier. “I just tried to tip it somewhere in front of the net.
“I didn’t see much,” he added. “When I turned around, it was in the net.”
The Canadiens failed to score on a two-minute 5-on-3 power play towards the end of the second period.
Jesper Bratt put the contest out of reach midway through the third with a goal from the slot as time expired on a Montreal penalty.
He added his second of the night in an empty net in the dying seconds.
Defenceman Mirco Mueller got the Devils on the board just 47 seconds into the game when his shot from the point took a deflection off a Montreal stick to beat Price.
It was New Jersey’s second shot of the game.
Price, who played his first full game of the pre-season, stopped 28-of-31 shots.
Kinkaid stopped all but one of the 29 shots he faced.
Montreal’s NHL-calibre line of Brendan Gallagher, Alex Galchenyuk, and Phillip Danault finished with nine shots.
“Look at our line tonight and the chances that we had, it came off supporting each other,” noted Gallagher.
“Quick little passes and then we find the open guy,” he added. “That’s what our line has to do.”
Elsewhere in pre-season play, Minnesota nipped Winnipeg 1-0, L.A. beat Vancouver 5-2, Boston edged Philadelphia 2-1 (OT), Chicago dumped Detroit 6-1, Colorado upended Dallas 5-1, and San Jose downed Vegas 5-2.