(Elmont) During his end-of-season review last spring, Kent Hughes was asked if, in 2022-2023, games with three rookie defensemen in the formation were among the options. Answer: “We will not run that risk. »
Fast forward nine months, and here’s the Canadian with Kaiden Guhle (when healthy), Jordan Harris, Arber Xhekaj and Johnathan Kovacevic as permanent members of his defensive squad, and Justin Barron currently trying to piggyback on the squad in a sustainable. It is for this kind of situation that the acronym “lol” circulates among young people.
We can laugh about it, but Hughes and the Habs were placed before necessity when Mike Matheson was injured in camp, and veterans David Savard and Joel Edmundson practically took turns in the infirmary.
On Saturday, the Habs faced the Islanders, a game the Montrealers lost 2-1. The loss came with an added cost: center Jake Evans, who was enjoying his best moments of the season, fell in action late in the first period, his leg crushed under rival Brock Nelson’s 210 lbs.
After the match, he was spotted in the halls of UBS Arena wearing a left knee brace. The length of his absence remains unknown, but let’s say it looks a tad close for the duel against the Rangers late Sunday afternoon. Unless Brock Nelson falls on his knee again and the healing blow method, proposed by Obélix in The blow of the menhirdoesn’t work, but we digress.
“There were two seconds left, plus the period was pretty much over. It’s always disappointing and Jake was playing really well these days,” lamented Jonathan Drouin.
There was already some variety in the lines, as St-Louis was using an 11-forward formation. At 10 attackers, the combinations became even more varied and among those tried, Kirby Dach was treated to a few presences in the center.
The opportunity arises, therefore, to retry the experience of Dach in the center. Each of the previous experiences was short-lived. In fact, since the beginning of the season, he has never played more than four games in a row. His results in this position were mixed, and conversely, his complicity with Suzuki and Cole Caufield encouraged St-Louis to leave the three young forwards together.
That said, if Kent Hughes cashed in on Alexander Romanov for a first-round midfield pick, which he then used to get Dach, it was to build a center line behind Suzuki. The position is critical. Remember that it is for this same reason that six years ago, Marc Bergevin sacrificed Mikhail Sergachev: to strengthen himself in the center. Except that Jonathan Drouin is ultimately more effective on the wing.
But Dach is still young, and the Canadiens’ center line, while not as tattered as it was in the summer of 2017, isn’t necessarily a powerhouse in the making. The future second-line center is still difficult to identify, and prospects Filip Mesar and Owen Beck still have giant steps to take before they can even join in the discussion. This need will be even more evident if Sean Monahan ends up being traded, a scenario that seemed written in the sky last summer.
The second half of the season, with no issues in the standings, will be the perfect setting for testing. Whether Jake Evans is out long term or not, sooner or later things will have to be tried at the center. Dach, with his great reach, creativity and ability to protect the puck, is the candidate with the most assets giving him the chance to succeed in this position.
So, is it time to get back to experimenting? “It’s still circumstances. The need becomes more important than the experiences,” retorted St-Louis.
If Evans has to be absent in the medium term, the needs will naturally lead the team towards the experiments.
His tenure changed mid-game after Jake Evans suffered an injury. Even though he was called upon more in his territory, he ended his 12-game scoreless streak.
For an attacker employed 18 minutes, we have seen very little of it. Jean-Gabriel Pageau ate it all up in the face-off circle, winning all seven of them.
The number of the game
Juraj Slafkovsky played yesterday a 20e straight game without scoring. His last goal dates back to 1er December in Calgary.
Our first 10 minutes weren’t what we wanted, but I liked our response afterwards. We needed a goal and we pushed for the second. We had chances, but they blocked several shots. They are famous for that.
He’s been playing well lately and deserved more minutes. He played well on my goal. I always liked playing with him and if we are together in the next game, we have good potential offensively.
Suzuki, about Jonathan Drouin
That’s why we have the extra. It was called the blender on the bench, there were 5-6 combinations that we had never seen. We responded well with the players we had, but we started late.
I would have liked to score on the slap shot, I think it hit the goalkeeper’s mallet. I try to do what I can with my ice time and help the team, whether it’s with points or not. We will surely have new trios tomorrow. I will be ready for that.
The Islanders are not an easy team to play against. They play a simple game with a good volume of shots. I’m disappointed with the result, but I’m happy with the guys’ battle under the circumstances.
Martin St Louis
Alexander Romanov falls into this category of defenders who are said to have no interest in being noticed. In fact, he’s rarely noticed for offensive plays, but his knack for dealing the big hit helps him stand out. On the occasion of the reunion with his former teammates, Romanov kept a little embarrassment. He was certainly credited with three hits, but none can really be called hard-hitting. Also, Jonathan Drouin seemed to stun him as he set up Nick Suzuki’s goal in the third period. Romanov, however, nearly participated in what would have been the insurance goal in the third period, when his shot was deflected, but Samuel Montembeault made the save.
Open door for Ylönen?
” I like that game, he is responsible, but he can go for another level offensively. Martin St-Louis described Jesse Ylönen in these words, after Saturday’s morning practice. Recently recalled from Laval, the Finn was playing a second game since his promotion. He didn’t seem fazed even though his first appearance of the game ended with a goal for the Islanders, a play on which he was crushed for a split second by scorer Casey Cizikas, who then deflected Noah Dobson’s shot. Then, Ylönen managed significantly more positive actions than negative, orchestrating some interesting raises in the second period. The loss of Jake Evans also earned him a few more appearances, including a few with Suzuki and Caufield. To be continued on Sunday.
Trapped while diving
Saturday morning, Joel Edmundson explained the science behind his decision to dive in front of his goalkeeper to cut pass lines. He and David Savard have made it a specialty since the start of the season, and it is suspected that it emanates from the directives of the coaching staff. One of the criteria he mentioned: when the player in possession of the puck works on his backhand. “He’s a lot less likely to land a lifted pass, over me, on his backhand,” argued the big number 44. The game was only 30 seconds old when Edmundson had the chance to s ‘exercise. Left-hander Brock Nelson came in from the right side in what was a two against one until Evgenii Dadonov fell back. So Edmundson dived to eliminate the pass option, except the shrewd Nelson took the opportunity to brake and cut into the slot to get a dangerous shot. Samuel Montembeault, however, made the save with the mitt. A reminder that diving has its limits.