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Canadiens Practice Report

Canadiens Practice: St-Louis Focuses on Caufield, Therapy Days



Montreal Canadiens coach St-Louis

Several Montreal Canadiens players were missing from practice on Thursday morning.

Christian Dvorak, Brendan Gallagher, Jake Evans, Mike Matheson, and Cayden Primeau took therapy days following the Canadiens’ 4-3 shootout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Given that the game went to overtime, Matheson played over 31 minutes against the Penguins, a season-high for the 29-year-old defenceman. It should also be noted that despite his difficult start to the season, Matheson’s underlying numbers have improved significantly in recent weeks. He’s back to playing like the high-end defenceman he was when he originally joined the team.

Gallagher blocked a shot in the second period that forced him to retreat to the locker room. He quickly returned to the bench and finished the game, but he did look to be in pain as he left the ice.

Coaching Specifics

Head coach Martin St-Louis took time to talk to Cole Caufield before the start of practice.

The 22-year-old is on pace for 20 goals this season, which is a reasonable output level for most players. But Caufield just signed a massive contract extension that carries a $7.85 million annual average value. That type of contract comes with certain expectations, which only adds to the pressure faced by Caufield.

He’s not playing poorly, he’s coming off a major surgery, and his underlying numbers have improved by leaps and bounds this season, but until he starts scoring with more regularity he’ll face a heightened level of scrutiny from fans and analysts.

Juraj Slafkovsky has looked good since joining the top line to play alongside Caufield and Nick Suzuki. Their possession numbers are very encouraging, which points to a great process, but the results aren’t there yet.

Slafkovsky hasn’t scored a goal in regulation since November 18 and is currently on pace to earn just 20 points this season.

Despite the progress in his game, it’s also fair to say a first-overall pick should probably be on track for more than 20 points in his second year in the league.

Slafkovsky was busy practicing his breakaway moves on Wednesday morning, exactly what the doctor ordered for a player who is having a hard time finishing plays.

The Montreal Canadiens will be back in action on Saturday. They will host the New York Islanders at the Bell Centre. The puck drop is scheduled for 7 pm ET.