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Leo Carlsson’s recipe for rest works: can it be applied to Juraj Slafkovsky?
In the world of sport, the principle of load management is becoming the talk of the town. This is particularly true of basketball, where the NBA is trying to do everything it can to keep its stars on the court.

In baseball, it’s the same thing. For some years now, teams have not been afraid to put the brakes on their youngsters – especially pitchers.

Why is that? Because they say that, in an ideal world, a pitcher should throw no more than 30% more innings than the year before, so as not to overstretch the gunner’s muscles.

That’s why young pitchers sometimes go back to the minors… even if they don’t deserve to.

This year, the Miami Marlins did just that with Eury Perez. It caused quite a stir, since the club needed a pitcher and had a very good one resting, against his will, in the minors.

All this in a playoff race.

Miami passed up the chance to potentially get a good draft pick (the club that sees its youngster win Rookie of the Year gets a good draft pick) for the sake of a long-term youngster.

I don’t think he would have beaten Corbin Carroll, for those who are interested, but Perez was really on fire.

So that brings us to the NHL. Many people, including a former goaltender like José Théodore, don’t understand why today’s goaltenders no longer play two games in two nights.

But it’s not just the goalies who suffer from load management: the youngsters do too.

In 2019, for those who remember, the Habs left Jesperi Kotkaniemi out in March on a trip to California. Why? Because Claude Julien felt his rookie player was tired.

But this year, the Ducks took it to the next level. Instead of waiting for newly-drafted Leo Carlsson to feel tired, the Ducks leave him out once in a while. #PreventInsteadOfCure

On a regular basis, he skips his turn – and it’s planned. So far, he’s played in 13 of his team’s 19 games.

As Jean-François Chaumont of the Journal de Montréal reports, this doesn’t necessarily sit well with the people back home, but everyone understands that the organization is doing this for the good of the youngster.

It also has to be said that, unlike the Miami Marlins in 2023, the Ducks aren’t serious playoff contenders. Everyone can afford to let the youngster develop at his own pace.

And that’s even if we feel that Carlsson would help the club adequately if he could play.

Science is more a part of the sport now. (…) There are things that science notices that I can’t see as a hockey coach. I have no choice but to trust them. – Greg Cronin, Ducks coach

I understand the plan, but I can tell you that Leo is a very good player and helps our team win when he plays. I’d like to see him in our lineup for every game. – Mason McTavish

There’s a certain frustration in all this (which is normal when you see that the Swedish center already has nine points in 13 games this season), but the long-term plan takes precedence over everything else.

And it seems to be working.

That’s why, at the moment, you have to wonder whether the Ducks’ recipe could be applied to a Habs who are also working more on the long term than the short.

The Montreal club won’t win the Stanley Cup in 2024, and we know it.

Since the start of the season, Juraj Slafkovsky has not always been placed in optimal conditions. Since Kirby Dach has been injured, he sometimes plays with Nick Suzuki…

But he also sometimes plays with Christian Dvorak.

The Slovakian has sometimes played just 12, 13 or 14 minutes, which is not the case for Carlsson (except once) in Anaheim. One plays less than 15 minutes on average per game, while the other plays 18 minutes.

And hint: the one who plays 18 minutes does so with great responsibility.

There’s no perfect recipe, obviously. But the time Carlsson takes to train and rest really seems to be having its effect right now in Anaheim to make him, one day, a player who will dominate for 82 games.

The way he plays on the ice tells us that things are looking up for him.

Right now, the CH only has 12 forwards up top (thanks to the three-man household in front of the net) and couldn’t afford the luxury of leaving Slaf out. And at this point, nearly 18 months after his arrival in the organization, I don’t see the CH doing it. It would be special at this point.

That said, one wonders if the Ducks’ method will be adopted by others in the future.

In gusto

– Really?

– Clearly.

– Still.

– Read more.

– The Dodgers are in for a big winter. Will they get what they want?

– Big question.

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