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Rafaël Harvey-Pinard could finish the season at the center
Credit: Capture d'écran / Screenshot

Yesterday, a few minutes before the Canadiens’ game in Nashville, the team confirmed that Rafaël Harvey-Pinard would be returning to the lineup.

The Quebecer, who took the injured Colin White’s place, had missed the previous 10 games. However, on February 11, the Habs set a minimum four-week timetable for his return.

He returned three weeks and two days later.

As I mentioned, he was replacing Colin White at center, who had been placed on the injured list to make room for his young teammate.

RHP isn’t a natural center, but that’s where he played yesterday. In fact, he may even finish the season there, as Jonathan Bernier of the Journal de Montréal reports.

The Quebecer did a good job yesterday, but it wasn’t perfect. In fact, he didn’t win any of his five face-offs. At his request, Tanner Pearson (50%) even took over at one point. That’s what Arpon Basu said.

At least he wants to improve. This afternoon, he’ll be working on this aspect with the other centers.

His natural position being the wing, RHP will be challenged until the end of the season.

First, he’ll have to stay healthy, having missed 37 games this season.

Secondly, center is the most difficult position in professional hockey, and he doesn’t have that much experience. Prior to yesterday’s game in Nashville, he had taken part in just 13 face-offs in the NHL (30.8% won) and 106 in junior (42.5% won), as Simon-Olivier Lorange pointed out in the text above.

It should be remembered that, a few years ago, Paul Byron was also used at center, even though it wasn’t his position.


But for RHP, they don’t seem to want to call up a guy from Laval. Brandon Gignac is eligible, but the Rocket are in the playoff race and probably don’t want to take away one of their best players (and rightly so).

When White returns (we still don’t know the details of his injury), the Quebecer will likely return to the wing, but for now, he’s got the mandate to pivot the fourth line, along with Jesse Ylönen and Tanner Pearson.

It’s up to him to prove he’s up to new challenges. A little versatility never hurts a player like him.

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