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Canadiens Putting Their Prospects To The Test Against The Jets

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Montreal Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens will be putting their prospects to the test in their tilt against the Winnipeg Jets with some rather interesting line combinations.

The Canadiens’ have put some of their top prospects alongside veterans in what would be probable pairings if they cracked the NHL lineup. The interesting combinations make for prime opportunities to evaluate how these youngsters can do playing next to bonafide NHL veterans in a real game setting. Unlike last night against the Leafs, the more balanced combination of prospects and veterans will offer more structure for these youngsters to work with.

 

Auditions For Prospects

Emil Heineman, who was one of the most engaged players in the game on Wednesday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs, will be slotting in for his second game in as many nights next to Cole Caufield and Kirby Dach. The 20-year-old winger has impressed head coach Martin St. Louis with his tenacious style of play and his nose for the net; the Canadiens’ bench boss is rewarding him by lining him up on what could be a very dangerous line. It’s no secret why the Canadiens want to get a better look at this promising youngster, as they will have to decide whether to keep him with the Canadiens to send him back to Leksands in the SHL in short order, but this test for Heineman in a top-six setting will be one to watch.

“He’s a good skater and protects the puck well by using his body well,” said St. Louis when asked about what has stood out about Heineman other than his shot. “He’s not overly physical, but he has elements in his game that allow him to be physical. He’s got a physical aspect to his game. He uses his speed and his abilities really well.”

Similarly, Kaiden Guhle and Arber Xhekaj find themselves paired with David Savard and Chris Wideman respectively, and that’s no coincidence. Guhle and Savard have been a pairing throughout the last two training camps and would likely be a pairing on opening night if Guhle manages to crack the roster. The same can be said about Xhekaj, who will be playing in his second game in as many nights as well. The colossal defenceman played a strong and structured game against the Leafs the night prior, but lining him up next to Wideman allows the Canadiens to test him in what would be a probable pairing.

With Jordan Harris having looked rather solid against his last two games this preseason, it’ll be up to Guhle and Xhekaj to show they also belong playing against NHL defencemen.

 

The Veterans Are Back

The Montreal Canadiens will finally be icing their “veteran line” of Christian Dvorak, Brendan Gallagher and Evgenii Dadonov for the first time this preseason. All three of these forwards will be looking to prove that their up-and-down 2021-2022 season was more of an aberration.

Dvorak, the veteran centre at this year’s training camp will likely be tasked with shutting down the likes of Pierre Luc Dubois for the Jets, all while contributing to sustained offensive pressure. The rugged centre finished the year strong last season, scoring at a 60-point pace in his last 21 games, and will look to build off that momentum this season.

As for Brendan Gallagher, a lot of ink has been used to describe his difficult season last year, but he seems healthy, rested and ready to tackle this season. Already during scrimmages, he seemed much more agile and quick on his feet in comparison to last season. It will be a focal point for Canadiens fans during this game to see how Gallagher reacts to contact and whether he can hit the ground running and return to his scoring ways.

 

Battle For Backup Role Begins

The Canadiens will also be returning to the Jake Allen and Cayden Primeau pairing in nets. Allen didn’t allow a single goal against versus the Devils, while Primeau allowed two goals on 13 shots. After Samuel Montembeault’s admirable performance against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday, Primeau is going to have to up his game if he wants to remain in the hunt for the backup goalie role.

 

Complete lines for Montreal Canadiens in tonight’s game at 7 pm ET:

Dadonov-Dvorak-Gallagher
Heineman-Dach-Caufield
Simoneau-Kidney-Martel
Roy-Gignac-Belzile

Guhle-Savard
Xhekaj-Wideman
Norlinder-Trudeau

Allen
Primeau

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