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Martin St. Louis Speaks On Slafkovsky, Beck & Harris

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Martin St. Louis

Montreal Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis took the time to praise his prospects, but also admitted there’s lots of work to be done.

Although it may be easy to try and draw conclusions from a few intra-squad games and one lone preseason game, St. Louis is looking at the big picture and taking his evaluation day by day.

The rookie coach cautioned against falling into a trap where a definitive opinion on a player based on such small sample sizes, especially as some of them are getting used to their new environment for the first time.

“You have to be careful in making an opinion too early. It’s too small a sample. One game is not enough and we’re going to keep evaluating as we go,” said St. Louis about jumping to conclusions too quickly on players’ futures.  “One day you think that this guy’s ahead, another day you think that guy’s ahead. We just got to keep gathering information to make the best decision for the club, but also for the player.”

However, when asked to discuss what jumped out at him the most, he was quick to praise the intensity and energy of the youngsters, many of whom were playing in their first-ever NHL preseason game.

“They brought a lot of energy, I saw some really good things, “said St. Louis regarding the performances of the club’s prospects. “I was really happy with how engaged they were.”

 

Owen Beck Continues to Impress

One player that has jumped out the most since the very start of training camp has been Owen Beck. The Canadiens’ 2022 2nd round pick has been nothing short of impressive and continues to improve his pacing and overall game with every passing day.

St. Louis took notice of his play, especially when it came to his ability to win faceoffs and maintain possession in the offensive zone.

“I think Beck played a really good game for a young guy,” said St. Louis on Beck’s continually impressive play. “His faceoff percentage was at 59%. That’s impressive because it gives you an opportunity to start the play with the puck.”

St. Louis praised the maturity in Beck’s game, pointing out that the young pivot didn’t play in the mold of your typical junior player, but rather a more mature pro-ready type of centre.

“He plays a very mature game. He doesn’t play like an 18-year-old,” said St. Louis of  Beck’s pro-style play. “He was in tonight with Cole and Hoffman with Suzuki out. It’s an opportunity for him and I thought he took advantage of it.”

It wouldn’t be surprising to see Beck get at least another preseason game with the way he’s performed so far.

 

Growing Pains For Slafkovsky

Many had eyes for Juraj Slafkovsky, as the Bell Centre crowd erupted every time he touched the puck. However, it seemed that Slafkovsky, albeit engaged and physical, lacked the assurance we were used to seeing from him last season.

Much of it can be chalked up to the process of getting used to he new style of player and the quality of competition, but none of it seemed to phase St. Louis’ perception of the young man.

“I thought he was fine. I thought he had good jump. He looked like he was having fun. He was asking a lot of questions”

For St. Louis, it’s all part of the process, as Slafkovsky and his linemate Kirby Dach, continue to get used to new concepts and styles of play. It’s a process that will take some time and will likely sort itself out as we continue through the preseason schedule.

“I thought they (Dach and Slafkovsky) were’ engaged physically; they’re big guys. I think they brought great energy, they have some good offensive moments,” said St. Louis about Slafkovsky and Dach’s first preseason performance. “It’s about continuing to take your reps and continue feeling comfortable in a new environment.”

 

The Versatility Of Jordan Harris 

Jordan Harris played a sound game overall and was the anchor on his pairing; preferring to stay back and cover his basis while Guhle was more adventuruous.

Slow and steady is Harris’ calling card; using his skating and smarts to get out of trouble and make the right play on 99% of his shifts. St. Louis was impressed by his versatility and made it known that their experiment with Harris on the right side is for good cause, as it might be the way he can beat out his competition for an NHL roster spot.

“I know that Jordan can play the right side and we’re just evaluating,” said St. Louis regarding the usage of Harris on the right side since the Prospect Challenge in Buffalo. “We have a lack of righties and we’re most likely going to need a guy to play the right side. He uses his feet really well and he’s used to playing on that side.”

He made a miraculous save in the first period in support of Jake Allen, who was out of position after making an initial save. Harris just has a knack for knowing where to be on the ice and supporting his teammates; even his goaltender.

He certainly hasn’t hurt his chances of cracking the Montreal Canadiens’ roster out of camp.

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