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Canadiens Games Notes: Juraj Slafkovsky Needs More Ice Time

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Montreal Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens were in Washington to face the Capitals on Saturday night, playing their second game in as many nights.

Jonathan Drouin made his season debut, slotting onto the fourth line alongside Jake Evans and Mike Hoffman. Kaiden Guhle, a game-time decision, did indeed play, which was good news for Samuel Montembeault, as he was making his first start of the year.

Unlike their previous game against the Detroit Red Wings, the Canadiens got off to a solid start, generating a few high-danger scoring chances early, including a prime scoring chance for Juraj Slafkovsky, but they quickly ran out of steam, falling 3-1 to the Capitals.

Oh Captain

There are very few players on the Canadiens’ roster that can change the momentum of the game based on an elite individual effort. Fortunately for Habs fans, captain Nick Suzuki is one of them.

His first goal of the season came off a fantastic wrap-around move, which fooled the Capitals defence and Darcy Kuemper.

It’s worth pointing out rookie Arber Xhekaj earned his first NHL point, a primary assist, which was well deserved seeing as the rough-and-tumble defender started the play with an excellent controlled exit in the first place.

Slaf Watch

One of the clear issues facing Slafkovsky is his questionable decision-making away from the puck. He put some of that concern to rest on Saturday night, as he immediately found some open ice in a prime scoring area, generating a high-danger scoring chance for the Canadiens.

Slafkovsky only ended up being given 12 minutes and 41 seconds of ice time, which, to be fair is more than the 9 minutes he received in the season opener. Understandably, the team wants to ease him into the NHL, but if he’s to have a legitimate chance to produce, it’s time to give him a reasonable amount of ice time, somewhere in the 14 to 15-minute range on a nightly basis.

If they cannot find him additional ice time, the AHL is just a few Métro stops away, but unfortunately, Slafkovsky won’t find his childhood friend Filip Mesar there, as he’s been loaned to the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL.

Statistical Issue

The top pairing of Kaiden Guhle and David Savard has produced some rather underwhelming results from a statistical standpoint, but you’d be hard-pressed to blame Guhle for their poor results.

He’s playing a simple, yet effective brand of hockey, which puts an onus on smart positioning and gap control on the blue line, whereas his partner has struggled in his own zone, often losing track of the player he’s supposed to be covering, as we saw during the second Capitals goal.

There aren’t very many pairing options on the blue line at the moment, but Martin St-Louis may consider breaking up his top pair to mitigate some of the pressure faced by Guhle.

Power Play Woes

If the Montreal Canadiens’ power play was firing on all cylinders, very few people would be asking to see the first-overall pick from the 2022 Draft on the second unit, at the very least. But given it’s shown little to no cohesion on either unit, the power play could surely use an infusion of size and talent.

In other words, if you’re going to keep Slafkovsky in the NHL you may as well give him a chance to play on the power play, there’s absolutely nothing to lose and an abundance of confidence available to be won.

Not only are the Canadiens failing to create momentum with the man advantage, but they’re also generating momentum for their opponents, as we saw on two occasions when the Capitals immediately took over the play following a failed powerplay.

The Canadiens are back in action on Monday, as they host the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Bell Centre. Puck drop is at 7 PM EST.

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habbernack

The same reasoning for Mesar to the OHL could be true for Juraj to Laval. It’s an apprenticeship.

Dave

At least give him some time with Dach or Suzuki before deciding.

Billy739

Absolutely Not.
Anderson-Sukuki-Caufield = Tatar-Danault-Gally x5

Caufield scored 16/22 goals and 25 points under MSL in the first 22 games after Josh Anderson was moved to LW. Since being Reunited this year Each Caufield and Suzuki are back to a Point Per Game Status

Your suggestion suggests you dont watch our teams games.

Dach and Slapkovsky were tried together in TML and NJD in the Pre Season and both games Dach’s minutes declined because Slappy couldnt keep up. This is when Monahan joined Dach and has remained there ever since as Dachs minutes increased as high as 18 minutes a game.

This is like when they stuck Galchenyuk with Gally their Rookie years and Chucky drug Gally down to a 2nd place finish in the Calder Trophy race. Chucky did better beside Gally but Gally suffered to make that a reality. Its part of why from then on they almost always played on seperate lines . While Patches was with Chucky it was Plekky and Gally holding it down on the back end.

My point is you see him as a bright new shiny toy you’ll tire of as he struggles to keep up. You should be looking at him as an investment in which you’ll recieve a great return on if you’re patient.

Billy739

Hasnt Earned More Icetime.
He’s Struggling to Transition to Small Ice.
He’s barely keeping up at bottom 6 minutes.

Only thing this accomplishes is hurting his confidence

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