It may have been another loss, but there were some positive takeaways for the Montreal Canadiens, especially the play of young Juraj Slafkovsky.
The Canadiens showed some good things in their 5-1 loss, but a lack of execution and an inability to capitalize on prime scoring chances made it very difficult for them to keep up with the Toronto Maple Leafs’ top guns. Toronto iced a roster that will likely resemble their opening night lineup against the Canadiens on October 12, and you can see why. The quality of execution for the Leafs was stellar.
Despite that, there were positive performances for the Canadiens management team to take away from this game; some of which are sure to make the roster-building process a little more difficult.
Slafkovsky Came To Play
Juraj Slafkovsky came to play against the Leafs, and it was a refreshing sight to behold. The 18-year-old was much hungrier for the puck and was able to put himself in good positions for offensive chances. When the puck was on his stick, he was making plays with confidence and thinking the game a split-second faster than the last game.
He showed some good poise in transition, completing a grand majority of his attempts and stood his ground with the puck along the boards when pinned down low.
Slafkovsky getting closer, but absolutely robbed on this one. pic.twitter.com/3I5x6A27ru
— Matt Drake (@DrakeMT) October 4, 2022
As the game went on Slafkovsky really began to show some jump in his game, as he was robbed by Matt Murray on a one-time shot from the top of the circle and then robbed of an assist the very next shift with an excellent pass on the rush to an open Mike Hoffman. By the end of the second period, he was the most noticeable player on the ice and made something happen on almost every play. The team’s lack of execution certainly did not help, but, if it’s good habits the Canadiens are looking for, they certainly saw them tonight.
Slafkovsky was finally rewarded for his strong effort in the game with an assist on Jonathan Drouin‘s powerplay goal by doing what he does best: crashing the net.
Juraj Slafkovsky drives the net and Jonathan Drouin finishes the play off for a power play goal! pic.twitter.com/sMAyyqe42W
— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) October 4, 2022
Monahan Has Good First Showing
Monahan hasn’t played hockey in six months, and he showed very little signs of rink-rust tonight, as he looked as fluid on the ice as we’ve seen in the past. He complemented his line with Josh Anderson and Jonathan Drouin quite well; getting in on the forecheck and making smart plays in tight and around the net.
What was most surprising about Monahan’s game was most certainly his skating ability. You couldn’t tell he was coming off back-to-back hip surgeries while watching him play on the ice tonight.
He was quick on his feet, positioned himself optimally and was his usual reliable self in the faceoff circle tonight, posting an efficiency of 50%.
It was a good first start, and, hopefully for the Montreal Canadiens, the best is yet to come.
Big Save by Matt Murray on Sean Monahan pic.twitter.com/rVGJEYI33D
— Rink Rat Report (@RinkRatReport) October 4, 2022
Kirby Dach Showing Consistent Signs Of Improvement
The 21-year-old centre once again looked to be in prime form again tonight; as he engaged physically with the Leafs and was the Montreal Canadiens’ most dominant player on the transition yet again.
Put on a line with Slafkovsky, Kirby Dach showed some good chemistry with the youngster; sending him some good feeds and feeding off each other on board battles together.
Dach continues to show an aggressive and physical edge when battling for the puck, which resulted in extended possession time in the offensive zone for the Canadiens.
Even on the powerplay, he was fluid on the ice and was feeding teammates with ease from the left circle. His playmaking ability will keep getting better as he develops chemistry with more consistent linemates, but you have to appreciate how he’s managed to look good with almost everyone he’s played so far this preseason.