Habs Prospect Playoff Report: Mailloux Scores, Beck Ejected
Three Montreal Canadiens prospects were in action on Saturday night, as the respective league championships took place across the CHL.
The Peterborough Petes earned an impressive 5-3 win against the London Knights, tying the series at one game apiece, whereas the Seattle Thunderbirds took control of their series with a 4-2 win, handing the Winnipeg Ice their first loss in almost a month.
Let’s dive right into the action.
OHL Championship, Game Two, London Knights vs. Peterborough Petes
Despite increasing their intensity, particularly on the forecheck, the Petes were a little overwhelmed from a physical standpoint in the first game of the series.
It wasn’t the only reason the Knights took a 1-0 series lead, but it certainly factored into their ability to control the momentum for the majority of the game.
Peterborough decided to flip the script on Saturday night, which allowed them to disrupt a significant portion of the Knights’ breakouts.
Canadiens prospect Owen Beck featured prominently in the first half of the matchup, throwing more hits than he had in the last few games combined. He continues to be head coach Rob Wilson’s most trusted centreman, and consequently, is used during almost every important faceoff, regardless of where it takes place. It also helps that his cerebral approach to hockey allows him to be a defensive stalwart. To put a fine point on his value, Beck has a penchant for disrupting passing lanes and quickly turning defensive scenarios into scoring opportunities.
However, Beck’s night came to an early end after he took a run at Knights forward Denver Barkey midway through the second period.
You can see the play in the tweet below, but suffice it to say that’s not exactly the type of play that would garner much attention in the NHL. At most, you’d be looking at a two-minute minor penalty rather than a five-minute major for a check to the head.
But the OHL tends to err on the side of caution, and given we’re discussing rather young athletes in a sport that has an ugly track record with concussions, you’d be hard-pressed to argue it was the wrong decision in the long run.
#gohabsgo Owen Beck lands a big hit on Denver Barkey, currently being discussed by the refs for a possible 5 minute penalty pic.twitter.com/4GpiSCSRd1
— Matt Drake (@DrakeMT) May 14, 2023
Logan Mailloux had been rather quiet since he created a scoring chance less than two minutes into the first period, not to mention he struggled with defensive positioning while defending the rush.
But with Beck ejected, it was Mailloux’s time to shine
The power-play specialist scored his seventh goal of the playoffs, giving the Knights their first lead of the game in the process. It was yet another fantastic shot from the point, a very familiar sight for Canadiens fans who happen to be prospect aficionados.
It’s also worth noting he took 10 shots on the net, pushing his playoff totals to an impressive 79 shots in 17 games. That’s 10 more shots than any Peterborough forward in these playoffs.
Granted, Mailloux probably won’t have an opportunity to take four or five shots per game once he makes the jump to professional hockey, but there’s no denying that his shot can overwhelm any goaltender in the CHL. He’s also quite adept at directing traffic during the powerplay.
He was on the ice for Peterborough’s insurance goal, which pushed the score to 5-3, and you could argue he screened his goalie during the play, but it would be a little unfair to pin the play on Mailloux, seeing as two of his teammates ran into each other behind the net during 4v4 play, which left Mailloux alone to defend an odd-man advantage. He shut down the passing lane, which is what you want to see from a defenceman in those high-danger situations.
If you’d like to read the opinion of one of my most trusted hockey analysts, I invite you to read Lori Bennett’s impressions of Beck and Mailloux throughout Game Two.
WHL Championship, Game Two, Winnipeg Ice vs. Seattle Thunderbirds
Admittedly, it was rather unusual to see the Thunderbirds struggle to control the play in the first game of the series. Kamloops gave them a decent run for their money in the third round, managing to win two games before Seattle eliminated them, but you never got the sense the Thunderbirds were in any danger.
However, the Winnipeg Ice are a different animal.
They’re almost as intense as Seattle, and they also own one of the most talented lineups in the Canadian Hockey League.
Losing Game Two of the series would have been a devastating blow to a team that is dreaming of a Memorial Cup run, but fortunately for Jared Davidson and Co., Seattle responded in style with an impressive 4-2 win.
Davidson came within a quarter inch of scoring, hitting the crossbar after using his ridiculous one-timer to fool Ice goaltender Daniel Hauser.
It should also be noted Davidson, who struggled to win faceoffs in Game One, was much better at the dot, winning 15 of the 23 faceoffs in which he took part.
But despite the Thunderbirds earning a crucial win, it was once again very difficult to ignore the play from one particular Winnipeg forward: Zach Benson.
Benson was named the first star of the game thanks to his two-goal effort, though he could have easily finished the night with four points if his teammates could have capitalized on some of the offensive-zone opportunities he created.
Players like Matvei Michkov, Leo Carlsson, or Will Smith would certainly be fantastic adds to the Canadiens lineup at the Entry Draft this summer, but I’d argue Zach Benson’s ceiling could end up being higher than the aforementioned prospects.
Yes, he’s rather diminutive, but let’s remind ourselves that’s exactly how a player like Cole Caufield fell to the Canadiens at the 2019 Draft. Size is important in the NHL, but it’s rarely a bad idea to bet on talent.
I’m not saying the Canadiens must draft Benson, but if they do, fans will quickly appreciate his elite talent.
On The Docket
Game Three of the OHL final takes place on Monday, in Peterborough. The Petes will look to build on their momentum from Game Two and take a surprising series lead, whereas the Knights will have to figure out a way to generate more high-danger scoring chances. The puck drop is scheduled for 7 PM ET.
Game Three of the WHL final is scheduled for Tuesday. Seattle will host Winnipeg, and they’ll be putting their undefeated playoff home record on the line. The puck drop will take place at 10 PM ET.
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