The Montreal Canadiens will be giving their fans a treat by playing Juraj Slafkovsky, Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield together on the same line against the Ottawa Senators.
The Canadiens will be icing a far less experienced roster against the Senators once again, as they look to test some of their top prospects in a real-game setting. Be it at forward or on defence, there’s still evaluation to be done and the line combinations speak volumes as to which players will be under the microscope Tuesday night, with a likely fourth wave of cuts looming at Canadiens training camp.
A Glimpse Into The Future
After a very impressive outing versus the Maple Leafs, Juraj Slafkovsky will be back at it again tonight against the Senators, but this time, he’ll be on the top line with the club’s most dangerous offensive weapons. This combination has been prophecized by the hockey world since before the 2022 NHL Draft and it will be especially interesting to see whether Slafkovsky can maintain, if not improve, on his impressive performance Monday night against Toronto.
For the returning Nick Suzuki, this will be an interesting way to get his feet moving after sustaining a minor upper-body injury prior to the start of training camp. The newly appointed captain will look to pick up right where he left off last year, posting a near point-per-game ratio under Martin St. Louis and playing a more complete game overall. Lining up next to Caufield once again, the chemistry between the two will likely be put on display early on in this matchup, but it will be interesting to see how Slafkovsky fits within the makeup of that line.
Big Day For Owen Beck
After signing his entry-level contract this morning, Owen Beck will suit up in his third preseason game for the Canadiens against the Senators. He’ll be centering Emil Heineman and Joël Armia on the third line where he’ll likely be tasked once again with leading the transition and offensive tempo of his line.
The combination of Heineman and Beck is an interesting one, as Heineman has an impressive shooting arsenal and a nose for the net, while Beck is an exceptional puck carrier that’s capable of dishing out the puck with great efficiency. Having a veteran like Armia on a line with them could help protect the two youngsters and create more space for them in the offensive zone, but Beck is likely to be the standout on this line once again.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see Beck play his last preseason game prior to being returned to the Mississauga Steelheads, so one could expect an inspired performance from the 18-year-old.
Full Defensive Brigade Put To Test
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.
Jordan Harris should not be discounted in this battle either, as he has looked the most responsible out of all of the Montreal Canadiens’ defensive prospects, and doing so playing on the right side as a leftie no less.
Each shift will likely be evaluated in a direct manner to see how each prospect responds against the Senators throughout the game to see which of the trio is able to distinguish himself the most against adversity.
Full Lines For The Montreal Canadiens
Caufield – Suzuki – Slafkovsky
Pitlick – Evans – H-Pinard
Heineman – Beck – Armia
Pezzetta – Gignac – Ylonen
Guhle – Savard
Xhekaj – Wideman
Schueneman – Harris