Montreal Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis is turning his evaluation process up a notch by lining up key prospects with NHL vets against the Ottawa Senators.
After making a substantial third wave of cuts that saw the Canadiens release 23 players from camp, most of whom are headed to the Laval Rocket Training camp this weekend, the Canadiens will be icing a very interesting lineup Saturday night against the Senators.
The lineup includes some notable veterans in the lineup like Jonathan Drouin, Mike Hoffman, Mike Matheson and Chris Wideman; but it’s whom head coach Martin St. Louis has lineup up next to them that is more telling.
Beck Given Spotlight Again
Owen Beck is once again being tasked with centrering the top line for the Canadiens during this preseason, this time between Drouin and Hoffman. The 18-year-old is taking full advantage of his time at training camp to show the Canadiens management team that, although he isn’t quite yet ready for the NHL, it won’t be too long. His defensive ability will be put to the test, as Drouin and Hoffman aren’t known for their two-way play, but they can surely complement Beck’s offensive creativity.
The Canadiens, on the flip side, want to see exactly how close Beck is to being a quality NHL-calibre player; which is evidenced by consistently surrounding him by offensive NHL talent. The minor injury to Nick Suzuki has opened the door for Beck to shine in his sted and put his talent on full display. One should expect St. Louis to use him in all situations tonight.
That was all Owen Beck. I’m loving this pick more and more everyday. pic.twitter.com/OepJkSpc3U
— The Habitant (@the_habitant) September 25, 2022
Battle On Defence
Kaiden Guhle has been head-and-shoulders above his competition in the race to clinch the finals spots on the Montreal Canadiens’ defensive brigade for opening night, but tonight, they’re lining him up with Chris Wideman instead of David Savard; an interesting switch up.
David Savard is more cautious and defensively-oriented in his game than Wideman is, and that allowed Guhle to be more adventurous with the puck; knowing that Savard would be able to cover for him. With Wideman being an offensive-minded defenseman, St. Louis is looking to see if Guhle can hold down the defensive structure of his pairing, as well as bring the consistent transition and offensive zone efficiency we’ve seen so far this preseason.
KAIDEN GUHLE 🔥 pic.twitter.com/3B1Uvg4RVc
— TVA Sports (@TVASports) September 29, 2022
For Justin Barron, this may be his last chance to ensure he doesn’t get lost in the shuffle this preseason, as Jordan Harris has looked much more efficient than him, on his off side no less, so far. That being said, Barron has shown flashes of his talent and ability in the offensive zone, he simply needs to shore up his decision-making and be more assertive with his decisions. By lining him up again next to veteran Mike Matheson, Barron will be more at ease and could likely see an uptick in play.
Matheson has been the better defenceman for the Canadiens this preseason by a wide margin. His experience and fluid skating ability will be a great comfort to Barron, who will be able to use Matheson more frequently as an outlet to relieve defensive zone pressure.
What a play by Justin Barron. Right off the draw, just chips it for himself, gets there first, and an excellent scoring chance for Slafkovsky as a result. pic.twitter.com/3cCH90Wnrz
— Matt Drake (@DrakeMT) September 18, 2022
Mesar Looking To Stay Greater Montreal Area
Flip Mesar has impressed a great deal as of late. For someone that many assumed would be immediately loaned to the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL, Mesar is trying to complicate matters. He was one of the best forwards on the ice for the Montreal Canadiens during their recent tilt against the Toronto Maple Leafs, as he showed great speed, creativity and a nose for the net.
The 26th overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft is being given linemates in Micheal Pezzetta and Jesse Ylönen who both have NHL experience and a viable claim to a roster spot under normal circumstances. That’s no coincidence.
If Mesar can show that he can not only keep up with Ylönen and Pezzetta, but complement and improve their overall impact on the game, it would go a long way to convincing management that perhaps he is ready for professional hockey in North America after all.
Filip Mesar is good at hockey pic.twitter.com/2uZzkKgRO0
— Matt Drake (@DrakeMT) September 29, 2022
Complete Canadiens lines for tonight’s against the Ottawa Senators:
Pezzeta – Mesar – Ylonen
H-Pinard – Stephens – Richard
Matheson – Barron
Guhle – Wideman
Harris – Leskinen