In Jake Allen’s absence, the Montreal Canadiens performed some roster gymnastics and line juggling prior to their game against the returning Jeff Petry and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Canadiens were getting creative both on and off the ice, as Allen’s absence and the club’s offensive woes prompted some changes within the lineup for tonight’s game.
The Canadiens are hoping to get back in the win column, but needed to make some tweaks if they hope to defeat the potent Pittsburgh Penguins and former Canadiens defenceman Jeff Petry tonight.
Impromptu Roster Gymnastics
The Canadiens announced that Jake Allen would be unavailable for Monday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, as his wife is on the verge of giving birth.
With Allen unavailable, but still counting against the 23-man roster limit, the Canadiens needed to shuffle some bodies around, as they already had 23 players on the active roster.
Kent Hughes was forced to re-assign Corey Schueneman to Laval, who doesn’t need to go through waivers to be sent back for the time being, in order to recall Cayden Primeau to back up Samuel montembeault tonight.
Juggling Lines To Spark Offence
Allen’s absence wasn’t the only change in the lineup, as Montreal Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis decided to switch things up after two offensively challenging games for his club.
St. Louis split the top line and added the surprisingly impactful Sean Monahan to the Canadiens’ electric duo of Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki in an effort to provide them more support. He and Kirby Dach have two of the best underlying numbers on the team so far this season, and he has more of that all-around game that would better complement the youngsters than Josh Anderson at this time.
“He’s a really smart player and seems to know where to be on the ice,” said Suzuki on playing with Monahan on his line. “He’s played a lot of centre. It’s nice to have a second centre out there, especially as a left-handed shot,”
With Caufield and Suzuki being right-handed shots, having a left-handed shooter on their line will be a great help, especially one that is also quite efficient in the faceoff circle. The Penguins have a formidable centre line with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, so providing Suzuki with that kind of support is of great value in the dot.
As for Dach, he’s now the unquestioned centre of his line next to Jonathan Drouin and Anderson; a line that will have speed to burn. For Dach, it’ll be interesting to follow his performance in the faceoff circle, but also his work in the high-danger areas, Having a power forward type like Anderson on his line could help create more space for him and Drouin; while Drouin and Anderson have existing chemistry that could help produce more offensive chances.
Unfortunately for Juraj Slafkovsky, he once again finds himself being placed lower and lower on the Canadiens’ depth chart, which seems to indicate that an assignment to Laval is in his future. It’s not that the youngster hasn’t shown flashes of good hockey in his limited ice time, but it just seems like the lack of power play time and the linemates he’s been given haven’t done him any favours either.
Playing on the 4th line with Jake Evans and Mike Hoffman could create a surprising outcome if all three overperform, but it is likely more of a sign that St. Louis is looking to get serious on this young season. If that’s the case, one could expect Slafkovsky to be sent down to the Laval Rocket in the next week in order to get him the top minutes he needs on a more consistent basis.
Complete Montreal Canadiens lines vs Penguins: