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Canadiens Postgame

Canadiens Xhekaj, Slafkovsky, Heineman & Suzuki Shine In Win



Montreal Canadiens vs Ottawa Senators

The Montreal Canadiens were in Ottawa on Saturday to face the Senators in the final game of their preseason schedule.

The Habs held the lead for the majority of the game, but a third-period push by the Senators was enough to give the home team a 4-3 lead.

But the Canadiens rallied thanks to goals by Caufield, Xhekaj, and others.

It was yet another incredibly exciting game between the two Atlantic Division rivals, ending in a well-deserved 6-4 win for the Habs.

Let’s dive right into it.

Through the Net

It wasn’t the most important goal of the game, but Arber Xhekaj literally shot THROUGH the net.

I’ve never heard a referee utter the words “upon further review, the puck went through the net,” before, but hey, there’s a first time for everything.

Captain Duty

I’ve criticized Nick Suzuki in preseason by saying he’s not giving everything he has.


Let me rephrase that.

I pointed out that Suzuki does not seem to be giving 100% during preseason games, despite earning a ton of points and playing very good hockey.

He’s simply holding his horses back a little for when the real hockey starts, a rather wise approach given he was the only player in the lineup who played all 82 games last year.

On that note, Suzuki, who is not giving everything he has yet, earned another preseason point.

Michael Pezzetta also had a very good game. He had a few high-danger scoring chances and energized the lineup every time he was on the ice.

Oh, and he scored to give the Habs a lead in the first period.

Another veteran who stood out was Sean Monahan.

He’s been excellent in most preseason games and seems to have a chip on his shoulder when it comes to his physical play. He tipped a point shot from Mattias Norlinder, who continues to have a very solid training camp, to tie the game late in the third period.

I’d like to give credit to Cole Caufield for the game-winning goal, and he certainly picked his spot perfectly, but there’s something to be said about Suzuki’s excellent play against the boards to steal the puck from the Senators.

Second Duo Chemistry

Seeing as the 2023-24 season is just around the corner, many fans are anxious to see what type of second line the Canadiens will feature on opening night.

So far, we’ve seen decent showings when Kirby Dach and Juraj Salfkovsky have been paired together, however, you’d be hard-pressed to argue that they’ve established the type of chemistry that would leave head coach Martin St-Louis no choice but to use them to start the year.

The line started on the right foot Saturday, thanks to Slafkovsky’s second goal of the preseason. He capitalized on a nice rush from Dach, which led to a point shot by Mike Matheson.

As an aside, Matheson is such a joy to watch out there.

I know we’re used to it by now, but he does something exciting on almost every shift, and it usually ends up helping the Canadiens in a significant manner.

Strong like an Arber

Arber Xhekaj’s defensive prowess was put to the test in the first period, and it did not always work out as the 22-year-old defenceman would have hoped, but it’s also worth noting that Xhekaj’s presence in the lineup went beyond his play in the defensive zone.

You know how sometimes you’re bringing in groceries from the car, and you decide you can haul all the bags at once, instead of taking several trips?

You desperately want to start eating those special-edition Dunkaroos as soon as possible, and no one can blame you. The mere fact that mom let you get them in the first place already has you working overtime to unlock your prize.

Well, Xhekaj has that same mentality.

Except he does it with NHL players.

And he does it with the greatest of ease.

Beyond his Byfuglienesque play in the first period, Xhekaj was fulfilling his duties as the sheriff of the team with aplomb, which is good news because the Senators once again iced a lineup full of guys that have very little odds of making it to the NHL.

Xhekaj played his part, and he played it well.

Overall, the Senators were much better behaved than in previous encounters.

Peaks and Valleys

Joel Armia is not having a bad camp. I understand that most want to see him off the roster, but realistically speaking, he still brings value to the table.

To a certain extent, at least.

I can’t imagine that he suddenly stopped forgetting how to play hockey when things matter most.

However, he has given us ample evidence to suggest that he has forgotten one key step to most hockey plays: the last one.

Armia is great at finding open ice, winning puck battles, and then squandering fantastic scoring chances.

He also did a good job frustrating St-Louis by taking a rookie penalty in the dying seconds of the second period.

Emil Heineman, on the other hand, had a pretty good showing. He was playing on Armia’s line with Sean Monahan down the middle and did a decent job taking advantage of the chances created by Monahan’s underrated playmaking.

He was also quite physical, as evidenced by how he ruined Senators forward Zach MacEwen’s night with a thunderous hit. MacEwen, the same Senators player that drove Kaiden Guhle into the boards from behind earlier in the preseason, immediately left the ice and went straight to the Ottawa locker room.

It was the type of game that you want to see from a guy like Heineman, and it’s perfect timing, too.

This was his last big chance to prove his worth before the Montreal Canadiens made the final cuts to their training camp roster.

He needs to bring more to the ice than just a very good shot, though that’s a great start. If he can maintain his physical play, he can become a real asset for the Montreal Canadiens in the middle of their forward lineup.


Powerless Play

I won’t spend much time analyzing the powerplay efficiency, or lack thereof.

However, I will reference this scene from the late 90s which perfectly explains how Habs fans feel whenever the team is given a man advantage.



His job does not hang in the balance, but it has to be said that Samuel Montembeault has not looked very good in preseason games. He’s let in a few bananas and is yet to find the form that saw him become a World Champion this summer with Team Canada.

His rebounds, in particular, were far from excellent.

The Montreal Canadiens are back in action on Wednesday, as they head to Toronto to face the Maple Leafs in the opening game of their 2023-24 regular season.

All Montreal Canadiens statistics are 5v5 unless otherwise noted. Via NaturalStatTrick.

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The win is nice and all, but it took until the dying moments of the game for almost our full NHL team to beat (basically) the Belleville Senators. Throw in the lack of success of the PP vs that “farm team”, and that’s pretty troubling for me. We should have smoked Ottawa tonight and instead it was a nailbiter for a moment there.


They got lucky with Monty’s bad rebound control. Habs proved their superiority with three straight goals

Last edited 1 month ago by Dave
Arthur chilli

Roger the habs were toying with the sens after the first the preseason is too long, the habs beat the leafs full roster already


I agree we controlled the play (certainly the shot count), but a PP that went 0/5 against a minor league outfit is definitely pause for concern.


If the habs are good on the pk and 5 on 5, will you really harp on the pp?? Obviously the pp is a work in progress. Are they creating scoring chances? If they are,that should be a positive.

Hab in exile

Last year the Habs lost all their games in preseason and went ~.500 to start the season until injuries caught up to them. They’ll do ok. I’ll predict they go 2-0 to start the season. I mean the leafs are a gimme.