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Playing less than six minutes won’t make Emil Heineman stand out from the crowd

In the last few days, it became clear that Emil Heineman was going to get some pre-Christmas playing time with the Habs. After all, you don’t call up a prospect of this calibre and leave him to rot in the stands.

It’s obviously much better to let him rot on the bench, from what we understand of the Habs’ strategy.

Clearly, when bringing a prospect to the NHL, there’s (sometimes) a middle ground to be found. You can’t ask everyone to be a saviour (not everyone is Connor Bedard), but you have to give youngsters winning conditions.

But yesterday, let’s just say that Emil Heineman wasn’t given the best conditions in the world.

Basically, he was playing on the fourth trio, alongside Mitchell Stephens and Jesse Ylönen. It’s a great trio for the Rocket, but not so great for Martin St-Louis.

And it showed in his playing time.

That’s to be expected, because Mitchell, Ylönen and Michael Pezzetta, who was left out yesterday to make room for Heineman, rarely play much during games.

But yesterday? 6:46 for Mitchell, 6:04 for Ylönen and 5:56 for Heineman. The latter played less than 10% of the game, even if you take out overtime.

Basically, if we go mathematically, this means that the guys played one shift out of 10. The top-9 had an average of three appearances each before Mitchell’s trio was called upon.

I know it doesn’t work exactly like that, but the image hits home for Ylönen and Heineman, who have talent.

I understand that a fourth trio plays less, of course. I also understand that, with a game that’s become close(and ultimately lost 4-3 to the Wild), you want to play your trusted elements.

But in opening night, what would it have been like to try Heineman? Were we afraid he’d create something?

There’s a growing feeling that Martin St-Louis is coaching to make the playoffs and not necessarily to develop. He’s decided to go in with his trusty guys to win a close game, and for the most part, that’s fine.

But even if he used his guys knowing what to expect, did Joel Armia deserve more than 15 minutes? He played poorly and was lazy. Seems to me Heineman would have deserved to take his place at times, no?

Don’t expect the formula to change all that much, however, as St-Louis says he’s proud of his boys despite the defeat. This leads us to believe that, all of a sudden, the fourth trio won’t be in the spotlight tonight.

True, the effort was more dignified after the first period… but still.

But still. That’s not all we have to remember about this game, which was another defeat for the Canadiens in Minnesota. The Habs, led by P.K. Subban, haven’t won there since 2011.

So what am I remembering?

1. Would this really be a Habs game if the refereeing hadn’t been the talk of the town, if there hadn’t been a video review (which the Habs lost, which is rare this year) and without three power-play goals, two of them on the opposition’s behalf?

Ah: and with overtime, too?

2. There are those days when everything works or nothing works. In the face-off circle, Mitchell Stephens (75%), Christian Dvorak (69.2%) and Nick Suzuki (68.8%) were in fine form.

But Sean Monahan (33.3%) and Jake Evans (10%)? Nothing was going right.

3. Juraj Slafkovsky: a goal, an assist, a positive differential, two shots on goal and nearly 18 minutes (17:41) of playing time. Let’s just say the young man is on the right track.

Good for the Habs.


After yesterday’s game, the club headed back to Chicago to get ready for tonight’s game. This will be the habs’ last duel before the Christmas break.

And if last year’s trend continues, the club will lose.

With two games in two nights in two different cities, don’t expect to see the Habs practicing this morning. The guys will be resting and the reserves will likely be the only ones skating – along with the goalies.

Cayden Primeau should logically play in the game. And after this duel, the boys will go home to their families for Christmas.

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