If this season continues the way it's begun for the Canadiens, Jarred Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu had better get ready to make their NHL debuts as emergency replacements. It wasn't good to see camp open with no sign of Andrei Markov, but it's turned out to be a bit of a trend. Not only do we have no idea when Markov might possibly play again, we've also yet to see Ryan White or Lars Eller in game action. On top of that, injuries to Chris Campoli, Mike Cammalleri and Jaro Spacek have further depleted a lineup that hasn't been complete since day one. This is not the way the Habs had hoped to start a new season.
On the plus side, however, the players who remain are doing their best to push through the team's problems. Rookie defencemen Raphael Diaz and Alexei Emelin managed to keep their heads above water against an enthusiastic attack by some pretty big Winnipeg forwards. Yannick Weber seized the opportunity to get back on D with a rocket from the point on the power play, and an impressive physical battle with the much larger Nik Antropov. The defence was a bit scrambly and fumbled the puck fairly often, but managed to throw themselves in front of enough shots and chip the puck ungracefully out of trouble enough times to get the job done.
Up front, Tomas Plekanec was his usual all-around brilliant self, scoring a beauty of a goal on an individual effort, as well as doing all the little things he does every night on the still-perfect PK. Also, it's only been a couple of games, but his faceoff percentage sits at 57%. If he can keep that up, he will solve his game's biggest weakness and provide an answer to the question of who Jacques Martin could count on to win big faceoffs.
Travis Moen had a great game, but he's not going to be a long-term solution for the top line. Plekanec can work magic, but even David Copperfield has to actually have a rabbit in the hat to begin with. Erik Cole could be the rabbit, although so far he's been an unimpressive addition. It's not helping that he's getting fewer than 15 minutes of ice time, when he's used to playing more like 18-20 per game. If, as they say, Cammalleri is out for only two weeks, it would be the first bit of good luck the team has had since training camp opened.
That's if you don't count Carey Price's performance as a stroke of luck. The goaltender upon which everything depends was solid throughout the game, but especially cool and focused during the Jets' early push. He underlined, once again, that the Habs will go as far as he can take them. So, on Thanksgiving Day, Habs fans everywhere can give thanks for the continued good health of their goalie.
This hasn't been the start of the season the Canadiens were hoping to have. Then again, maybe if they get the injuries out of the way early, they'll get their healthy bodies back when it really matters later in the year. While it'll be great to see Tinordi and Beaulieu in Habs sweaters, it would be nice not to see them just because there's nobody left to play.