Connect with us

Canadiens Postgame

Slafkovsky, Suzuki, And Caufield Saving Grace In Toronto Loss

Published

on

Montreal Canadiens Nick Suzuki

The Montreal Canadiens hosted the Toronto Maple Leafs in a classic Saturday-night matchup at the Bell Centre between longtime rivals.

Toronto was the better team and emerged with the 4-2 win, a predictable result given both Arber Xhekaj and Kaiden Guhle were not available, but there was a silver lining to be had for Habs fans. Predictably, it was the play of the team’s top line, which has acted as the organization’s saving grace this season.

Let’s dive into those highlights!

Slow But Steady

The Canadiens held the advantage in shots once the first period wrapped up, but the high-danger chances were split evenly with the Leafs. As per usual, the top line drove the offence for the Habs, a necessary factor in any game Martin St-Louis’ team hopes to win.

Without trying to discredit Cole Caufield and Juraj Slafkovsky, it’s clear which player is the one who facilitates the line’s transitions through the neutral zone. Nick Suzuki’s ability to generate controlled entries is one of the main reasons the Canadiens have managed to push some of the better teams in the NHL to the limit.

Of course, you need more than one functional line to win an NHL game, and that’s a luxury the Canadiens do not have on most nights.

The Big Smoke Show

While the Canadiens held the fort in the first period, it’s only fair to say the Leafs dominated the game from the very moment the puck was dropped to signal the start of the second period.

Former Hab Max Domi used some finesse to tip the puck by Samuel Montembeault, leaving rookie Jayden Struble three steps behind him as he opened the scoring. Struble’s play in the NHL has been solid, in the sense that no one expected him to be in the NHL at this point in his career, but his numbers have taken a nosedive in the last stretch of the season. I’d expect he’ll be returned to Laval once the blueline health allows for the roster change.

You Gotta Be Good To Be Lucky

Habs fans won’t like hearing this, but few players around the league are more entertaining than Auston Matthews. He’s outscoring Alex Ovechkin in terms of how many goals he’s registered at this point in his career, which is rather impressive, to say the least.

He didn’t have to work hard for his 64th goal of the season, but when you spend your nights creating chances in the offensive zone you’re bound to get a few lucky bounces.

The goal came just 17 seconds after Domi opened the scoring, leading to a complete breakdown from the Canadiens from a defensive standpoint. The Leafs would go on to score two more goals in the next five minutes to take a commanding 4-0 lead.

Signs Of Life

With the score 4-0 and the Leafs well on their way to running the Habs out of their own barn, the usual suspects came to the rescue to give the home fans something to cheer about.

Suzuki scored his 33rd goal of the season after a very nice pass by the youngest player in the lineup, Slafkovsky. You may argue that Slafkovsky was aiming for Caufield, and that’s probably true, but it was still a smart pass to a high-scoring area by the budding winger.

We shoud also note Suzuki made quite the adjustment to score from a bad angle.

Caufield did manage to get his blade on the puck a few moments later, resulting in his 23rd goal of the season, and his third in as many games.

Remember how we discussed Caufield’s scoring drought had more to do with bad luck than with anything he was doing wrong? His recent scoring spree should go a long way in convincing fans that he’s not actually cursed.

It’s also important for a goal-scorer like Caufield to finish the season on the right foot given his early season woes. Full marks to Mike Matheson and Suzuki for their setup prior to Caufield’s goal.

 

Pezzetta Would Fight Thanos

Very few players around the NHL would voluntarily fight Ryan Reaves.

After all, Reaves is one of the few heavyweights remaining in the NHL. But Michael Pezzetta isn’t like most players. He will step in when necessary, putting his body on the line for the Canadiens with reckless abandon, regardless of the situation.

 

The Montreal Canadiens will be back in action on Sunday, as they head to New York to face the Rangers. The puck drop is scheduled for 7 pm ET.


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