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Canadiens Postgame

Canadiens Youth Movement Offers Glimpse Into Promising Future

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Montreal Canadiens Mailloux

The Montreal Canadiens hosted the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night, a match-up that marked the end of a rebuilding season which yielded a fair amount of encouraging results for Martin St-Louis’ team.

Rather than re-iterating the many issues still facing the organization, Tuesday’s game will serve as a good opportunity to discuss the tangible growth we’ve seen from both a team and individual standpoint.

Prospect Logan Mailloux made his NHL debut, and though fans understand the need to keep expectations in the realm of realistic when it comes to his immediate impact on the lineup, the defenceman played with a lot of poise.

The same can be said about Lane Hutson, who dazzled the Habs faithful with plays reminiscent of a time when either Alex Kovalev or P.K. Subban were charged with providing the highest possible level of entertainment at the Bell Centre.

Both Hutson and Mailloux played starring roles in the team’s 5-4 shootout loss to a desperate Red Wings club.

Let’s dive into those highlights!

Early Impact

Following in Hutson‘s footsteps, Mailloux quickly made his mark during his NHL debut. The 21-year-old defencemen provided a fantastic breakout pass that allowed Brendan Gallagher and Alex Newhook to capitalize on an odd-man rush midway through the first period.

Say what you will about his defensive awareness, but there’s clearly value to Mailloux’s ability to cover half the rink with a quick, crisp outlet pass. The Habs need to improve their play in transition, and that’s where Mailloux comes into play.

As an aside, Gallagher continues to enjoy a very solid second half of the season. He’s no longer the play he once was, but the hard-working winger is finding new ways to help his team win.

While most of Gallagher’s goals have resulted from his penchant for absorbing more lumber than a pulp and paper factory, his 16th goal of the season was more of the gimme variety.

But when it comes to players who deserve a little more puck luck due to their sustained effort every shift, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better candidate than Gallagher, who has enjoyed quite the resurgence this season.

Cole Train

Much has been made of Cole Caufield’s struggles this season.

Perhaps too much.

That’s not to say the 23-year-old sniper is above criticism, but he’s going to finish the 2023-24 season by setting career highs in goals, assists, and of course, points. Not to mention, he also improved his two-way game to the point that he’s on the positive side of most possession metrics.

The Canadiens pay him to score goals, which means we can’t gloss over his issues this season, but when you consider everything that could go wrong did go wrong, approaching the 30-goal mark is rather encouraging.

But when it comes down to growth from players like Caufield and Juraj Slafkovsky, all improvements run through Habs captain Nick Suzuki.

He’s the jack of all trades, which can often be misinterpreted as a negative in hockey. But as the saying goes, a jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.

End Scene

The final goal of the season for the Montreal Canadiens represented all the most promising aspects of a lineup filled to the brim with young talent. Hutson walked the blueline with the greatest of ease, while Slafkovsky etched out prime real estate before tipping the point shot.

There are two important things to note here.

Hutson seems to be able to create the same time and space for his linemates as he did in the NCAA. Slafkovsky is slowly yet surely using his massive size advantage to create chaos on any given night, as evidenced by his 20th goal of the season.

And finally, there’s no doubt the Montreal Canadiens finished their 2023-24 campaign on the right foot, powered by some of the youngest players in the organization, players who will be counted upon to write the next chapter in the team’s glorious history.

 


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