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Montreal’s Roster Taking Shape, Slafkovsky & Guhle Get Chance

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With the Montreal Canadiens icing a veteran-heavy roster, Juraj Slafkovsky and Kaiden Guhle will look to show they belong against the full might of the Ottawa Senators.

The Canadiens are set to do battle against the Senators at Steele Community Centre in Gander, Newfoundland this evening, and it will be the closest thing to a simulated, NHL-calibre game the Canadiens have had since the start of camp. There will be very few experiments, from a roster selection perspective, in tonight’s game, with just a handful of prospects being put to the test before the final wave of cuts this long weekend.

Head Coach Martin St. Louis is however experimenting with his line combinations, now that he has about 80% of his full lineup suiting up at the same time, and the combinations make for some interesting analysis:

 

A Sign Of Things To Come For Slafkovsky?

Juraj Slafkovsky will be suiting up for his fifth preseason game in 11 days so far in this training camp, and will be paired with the responsible Christian Dvorak and the powerhorse Josh Anderson. This could be a prime opportunity to put Slafkovsky’s biggest qualities to the test, as Anderson and Dvorak can make space for the youngster to attempt more of his power-focused tricks towards the net, all while complementing his board work down low.

If Slafkovsky is to crack the Montreal Canadiens’ final roster, this is the kind of line he will most likely start on, as Dvorak will be able to cover the defensive side of the game for the youngster as he learns, all while allowing Slafkovsky and Anderson to take care of the line’s transition breakouts.

That being said, Slafkovsky will have to show more jump in his step, akin to his standout performance against the Maple Leafs on Monday, if he wants to stay in the race for a final roster spot.

 

Gallagher & Dach: A Match Made In Heaven

This has been a duo that has been talked about from the moment Kirby Dach was acquired.

The initial scouting report on Dach described him as a great playmaker and excellent transition player that lacked consistency in going to the net and getting shots off in high-danger areas. Brendan Gallagher is the exact opposite, possessing adequate transition ability, but being a menace in the blue paint and constantly being an available option with his active stick around the net.

As Dach has continued to improve during training camp, he’s shown some good fire in his game, but there is no bigger fire than Brendan Gallagher, especially when he’s on his game. The two could feed off their energy and will be complemented by the shooting qualities of Mike Hoffman on the left side.

If head coach Martin St. Louis is looking to create stable duos, this may be exactly what the doctor ordered for Dach and Gallagher.

 

Guhle & Leskinen Pulling Ahead

Besides one unfortunate turnover against the Senators on Tuesday night, Kaiden Guhle has been a model of consistency throughout this training camp and is head-and-shoulders above his competition to claim a roster spot on the Canadiens’ blueline.

His pairing with David Savard has been solid from the get-go and should very well be a pairing on opening night if all things stay as they are.

What is more surprising is how Otto Leskinen has seemingly overtaken Justin Barron in the last few games by playing next to Mike Matheson and showing some excellent aptitudes, especially on transition.

With Barron looking like he may need some more time to develop in Laval, Leskinen has taken the bull by the horns over the last week and has shown some sound decision-making.

He has caught the attention of St. Louis, who describes his play as intriguing. It’s no secret why he’s being given such a long look next to who will likely be the Canadiens’ No. 1 defenseman this season; the Canadiens want to see if he has the goods necessary to warrant sending down their top prospects without hampering the quality of the product on the ice.

**Edit Mike Matheson is out for tonight’s game and Justin Barron has been inserted in his stead.

 

Expected lines for Montreal Canadiens against Ottawa Senators:

Caufield-Monahan-Pitlick
Gallagher-Dach-Hoffman
Slafkovsky-Dvorak-Anderson
Pezzetta-Evans-Dadonov

Leskinen-Barron
Guhle-Savard
Xhekaj-Bowey

Primeau/Montembeault

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