Connect with us

Canadiens Highlights

Canadiens Juraj Slafkovsky Plays Best Game In Loss To Canucks



Montreal Canadiens vs Vancouver Canucks

It was a battle of two tired teams as the Montreal Canadiens hosted the Vancouver Canucks at the Bell Centre on Sunday night.

The Canucks also had to play with just five defenders for the majority of the game, with Carson Soucy leaving the game due to an injury early in the first period.

Vancouver won 5-2, including two empty net goals. The scoreline was a little unflattering to the Canadiens, who didn’t light the world on fire, but definitely had their fair share of scoring chances.

Let’s dive right into the highlights!

Segment 1

Early in the first period, Juraj Slafkovsky drove to the net on what looked like a very dangerous 2-on-1.

Logically, the 19-year-old attempted to pass the puck to sniper Cole Caufield, who would have had an ideal scoring chance if the pass was successfully completed.

Unfortunately, Slafkovsky whiffed on the puck, and the high-danger chance vanished into thin air.

It wasn’t a bad idea, but it was poor execution.

This was the nth time the winger has opted for a pass rather than a shot. At this point, regardless of whether the situation calls for a pass, one thing is clear: Slafkovsky needs to shoot more.

If he can channel his inner Dany Heatley, not only would the Canadiens be better off, but so would he.

Hell, take shots from the back of the net if need be. Maybe invest in horse blinders to avoid the temptation of a pass.

Either way, Slafkovsky needs to take more shots than a pledge playing catchup at a frat party.

The good news is that he seemed to get the message in the first intermission.

His first shift in the second period led to yet another 2 v 1 play, but this time around Slafkovsky did not hesitate to shoot.

He ended up taking 10 shots at 5v5 on Sunday night, a career-high. Six of them were on net, two of them were of the high-danger variety, and three resulted in rebound chances.

No one is going to suggest he had an all-star performance, but it was much better than what we were seeing when he was playing with Josh Anderson and Alex Newhook.

He was lost on that line, but now he’s the one driving the play, which is quite encouraging.

No, he’s not scoring, but he’s creating chances, and that’s usually the precursor to a goal-scoring spree unless you’re wearing No. 17.

montreal canadiens slafkovsky shift chart

Some fans may be sick of hearing about ‘the process’, and that’s understandable. Still, now that the Canadiens have committed to keeping Slafkovsky in the NHL, there needs to be some sort of tangible improvement from an offensive standpoint.

Reaching double digits in shots is a great start.

And an important part of the damned process.

The key part for Slafkovsky is to remember that taking a shot, much like ordering an extra pita with your chicken shawarma plate, is always a good call.

It’s also worth noting that Slafkovsky seemed to have participated in a scoring play when he screened Casey DeSmith prior to Chrisitan Dvorak beating the Canucks goaltender with a clever shot, but Cole Caufield had gone offside (for the third time on a scoring play this season), which means history was quickly re-written.

Look, I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but it’s absolutely ridiculous to think that a team can be punished for a mistake by an official. It’s fine that referees and linesmen make mistakes, but there’s no way teams should be paying for said mistakes.

Could you imagine an NBA referee deciding to play the time-warp card and negate a perfectly good three-point shot because they missed someone’s toes crossing the line a few plays earlier?

Let’s face it, it’s a dumb rule that was put into place hastily, and for the most part, it has only caused great plays to be erased from the history books.

You can’t claim to be marketing the fastest sport on earth when you constantly pause the game for 10 minutes, ruin all momentum, and decide perfectly good goals should be recalled because the linesman didn’t have time to pull out his micrometre and detect the offside.

Either commit to laser technology or trust your linesmen, who, for the most part, get it right.

This one-foot-in, one-foot-out dance is just a bunch of hokey pokey.

Country For Old Montreal Canadiens Men

Much like Saturday night against the Boston Bruins, the Habs failed to score in the first period, but they did receive an honest effort from the third line, which led to a few high-danger chances.

Former Canuck Tanner Pearson came within a micrometre of scoring against his former team but was rebuked by those annoyingly strict laws of physics.

Just to confirm: this isn’t a re-run, it’s just yet another case of the third line leading the charge for the Canadiens while the rest of the lines attempt to find their rhythm.

Say what you will about their age, but these “old timers” have shown more energy than any other trio in first periods this season. It should be noted that, unlike other games, they did fade down the stretch, but it’s rather easy to excuse them for a downtick in results considering how well they’ve played this season.

Matheson Conundrum

It wasn’t a banner game by Mike Matheson, which is becoming a common refrain this season. His sudden and drastic decline in underlying numbers is hard to ignore, especially when it’s clear that his decision-making is off.

But when it comes to Matheson, much like spumoni ice cream, when he’s struggling there’s a little bit of good embedded in the overall terribleness.

Matheson ended up scoring the first Canadiens goal of the game late in the third period. It was yet another powerplay goal for the Habs, which has been much better than expected this season.

Though, to be fair, fans weren’t expecting much.

Arber Xhekaj also got into the action, albeit a little too late. With the Habs trailing 4-1 in the last minute of the third period, Xhekaj decided to score after a very nice play to gain access to the offensive zone with control of the puck.


The Montreal Canadiens are back in action on Tuesday when they’ll face the Calgary Flames at the Bell Centre. The puck drop is scheduled for 7 pm ET.

All Montreal Canadiens statistics are 5v5 unless otherwise noted. Via Natural Stat Trick.