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Juraj Slafkovsky: five points in his last seven games

The individual progress of the Habs’ young players is important this season. For a club that is rebuilding, it’s essential to have young players who are moving up.

Defensively, Kaiden Guhle and Justin Barron are good examples.

And if there’s another young player who fits into this category at the moment, it’s Juraj Slafkovsky. The first pick of 2022 is increasingly visible on the ice.

Yesterday, on the sidelines of the Canadiens’ 4-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, we saw once again how Slaf is able to stand out on the ice. He was visible and did some great things with the puck.

In particular, he picked up an assist on Cole Caufield’s goal.

When you look at it, the Slovak has five points in his last seven games… which is a lot better than his two points in 15 games to start the season.

(Credit: ESPN)

He’d picked up a point in the first game of the season, but after that, he’d managed just one goal in the next 14 games. There was potential talk of sending him back to Laval.

But right now, with the points on the board and the way he’s performing on the ice, those discussions aren’t at the forefront – and that’s fine.

What is noticeable is that, although Slaf has been slow to recover from the loss of Kirby Dach, whose season ended a while ago, the Slovakian has managed to develop chemistry with Cole Caufield.

The #22 hasn’t systematically played with Slaf lately, but it’s often happened.

The two men are starting to develop chemistry together and it makes sense. After all, Slaf likes to distribute the puck and the American likes to have it on his stick to score goals. Caufield would like Slaf to shoot more, but he’s not going to complain if he has the puck.

Still, one wonders what it would be like to have a center other than Christian Dvorak on the Habs’ second line. Colleague Maxime Truman suggests Nick Suzuki, which is a logical choice, of course.

But hey. Don’t expect Martin St-Louis to change his top-6, which is working well at the moment. Alex Newhook and Nick Suzuki are playing well together, too.

And yesterday, the coach said he was satisfied with his four trios. I don’t expect any major changes for tonight’s game – unless you consider the possibility of seeing Michael Pezzetta again as a major change, of course.

That said, could moving Sean Monahan to center Caufield and Slaf to send Dvorak back with Josh Anderson and Joel Armia be a possibility on the table?

For tonight, I don’t think so. But that can change quickly…

But hey. That’s not all that should be remembered about the game against the Blue Jackets in Cannon Country. It wasn’t just Slaf who caught the eye during the game.

What do I remember about this game?

1. Speaking of the Cannon, it was quiet because of the good work of Samuel Montembeault, who was playing in front of Oilers scouts. The goalie made 26 saves on 28 shots, and notably kept his team in the game during the 15 minutes when the club was a turnover machine.

Because yes, at the end of the first and beginning of the second, there were a lot of turnovers. Not all of them were recorded by the NHL, but there were quite a few, let’s say.

2. Cole Caufield was one of the culprits. In the first period, he didn’t play good field hockey.

Fortunately for the Habs, he was able to redeem himself a little later in the game by playing better field hockey and scoring a goal, but this is an area that needs work.

3. The first time Joel Armia was recalled, in October, he scored as soon as he returned to the line-up. He then stepped aside, as is his wont.

And yesterday, in his return to NHL play, he not only scored, he was very effective. He played up to his potential (especially late in the game) with Sean Monahan and Josh Anderson.

Speaking of Anderson… how often have you seen him?

No coach has been able to in the past, but St-Louis will have to find a way to keep the guy motivated. Good luck with that.

4. Jayden Struble looks like an NHL defenseman right now. Playing behind Mike Matheson and Kaiden Guhle on the left, nobody’s asking him to be an MVP.

But he hits, he keeps his game simple and he doesn’t get his team into trouble. He deserves his place in the sun.

5. Yesterday, Struble played almost 15 minutes. One reason for this is that there was only one power play in the game. That was when Gustav Lindstrom sent the puck into the stands in the third.

The result? Apart from Tanner Pearson and Jesse Ylönen, everyone else played at least 14 minutes in the game.

More and more, it looks like Martin St-Louis is coaching like an ECHL coach at the end of the game. After all, in the ECHL, coaches don’t always have 12 forwards in their line-up.

But hey. With the CH playing in Montreal tonight, maybe the club’s stars will have a bit more legs against the Panthers.

6. In the second period, the Habs had a moment where they controlled the puck for a good two minutes. It looked like a power play, but it wasn’t.

The changes made by the coach didn’t change anything: even though there were new guys on the ice, the CH had the puck. That makes up for the bad change on Patrik Laine’s goal, I guess.


The Canadiens end their trip with six points out of a possible ten. That’s not bad at all for a club like the Montreal Canadiens.

We’ll have to look for consistency, but hey.

The good news is that seven of the next eight games will be at home. Apart from a return trip to Buffalo on November 9, the CH will play at home until December 16.

The CH is three points behind the Maple Leafs and third place in the division, which isn’t bad.


But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. After all, starting tonight, the Florida Panthers will be a big client for Martin St-Louis’ men. And why should that be?

Because they’re on fire and they’re big.

Cayden Primeau, who left for Montreal yesterday, arrived in Quebec well before his teammates. He therefore had a more complete night’s sleep in his bed in preparation for tonight’s game, in order to continue the baseball-like rotation in front of the net.

Note that the CH will not be practicing. Martin St-Louis will speak to the media around 5 p.m. for lineup updates.

Note that because the club won’t be able to train, I don’t necessarily believe that defenseman Arber Xhekaj will be back in action today. The CH doesn’t need him at all costs tonight.

Will he play on Saturday? That remains to be seen.

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