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Montreal Canadiens Prospects Standout vs. the Senators

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Montreal Canadiens

BUFFALO — The Montreal Canadiens’ prospects took to the ice for the final time in Buffalo, beating the Senators 7-2.

It’s well known Juraj Slafkovsky has an abundance of skill and potential, but the biggest question mark surrounding his play was whether he was able to simplify his play rather than attempting high-risk moves that put his linemates in risky situations.

Back to Basics

Slafkovsky delivered on Sunday, making several basic, yet efficient plays which led to sustained pressure in the offensive zone and many offensive scoring chances for his line. He was much more patient with the puck and used his body more to protect the puck; the combination of the two allowed him to make extra space for his linemates and some highlight-reel passes.

He will undoubtedly have plenty of opportunities to make nice plays in the future, but for now, seeing him make the right play at the right time is what matters most.

The Montreal Canadiens’ hottest scorer, Emil Heineman, was up to his old tricks again. There’s no doubt about it, Heineman has an NHL-calibre shot and a strong physical presence on the ice. The question remains whether his skating and defensive work will translate to the big leagues, but he’s certainly made a case for himself in Buffalo.

He and Filip Mesar were finding each other all over the ice against the Senators and were at the route of many scoring chances. That line could have walked away with a few more points with some luck.

Brett Stapley also had a fantastic game, and not just because he scored a goal. He was fantastic in his own zone, displaying fantastic defensive acumen. He covered for pinching defencemen on several occasions, often time doing a better job shutting down passing lanes than the player he was substituting.

I’m still not sold on his long-term potential, but he surely endeared himself to his new coach on Sunday.

Kaiden Guhle played a good, if not unspectacular game; however, he did a great job using his freakishly wide wingspan to maintain perfect gap control at the blue line. He pulled out some sweet moves in the offensive zone on multiple occasions; showing that he’s picked up some deceptiveness in his game over the last year.

Justin Barron, on the other hand, struggled to protect his own zone during attempted controlled entries by the opposition. However, once he was in the offensive zone, he acted like a fourth forward out there and helped his teammates maintain possession and move the puck around easily.

Best of the Rest

Now, we usually only point out a few good players, but since the Montreal Canadiens flat-out dominated the Senators, it’s time for some rapid fire!

  • Xavier Simoneau is such a crap disturber, and I love it. As the smallest player on the ice, he’s the first to get engaged with players that tower over him. His skating definitely needs to be improved given his size, but he’s clearly the type of player that coaches love.
  • Arber Xhekaj may have ended someone’s career. To his credit, he did make sure to slow his opponent’s descent to the ice following a punch that would have felled a literal buffalo.

  • Riley Kidney stepped up his game in a big way, showing off the type of offensive flair that made him a second-round pick.
  • I loved what I saw from the undrafted Pierrick Dubé. If none of the players wore numbers, you’d assume he was recently chosen in the first few rounds of the draft.
  • Owen Beck continues to impress with his cerebral play. I can’t say enough about how great he was all weekend.
  • Filip Mesar‘s edgework is a joy to watch. I think he’ll be a relatively long-term project, but you could argue he had a better tournament than his countryman.

 

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Chris

hot take on Mesar….doubt he’ll take years…or even too long….kid has game…

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