In the Habs’ Room: St. Louis kept young forwards busy against Senators

Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield and first overall draft pick Juraj Slafkovsky played more than 22 minutes in a loss Tuesday at the Bell Centre.

Article content

The best news to come out of the Canadiens’ 5-4 preseason loss to the Ottawa Senators Tuesday night was the return of captain Nick Suzuki, who had been sidelined since the start of training camp with a lower-body injury.

Advertisement 2

Article content

Suzuki played between Cole Caufield and first overall draft pick Juraj Slafkovsky, and he picked up a pair of assists on what was a busy night for the three forwards.

Article content

“They had a lot of time out there,” said coach Martin St. Louis, who cut his bench back to three lines in what proved to be a futile attempt to come from behind. It’s rare for a forward to finish the game with the most ice time but the three all topped 22 minutes.

Slafkovsky, who is battling to start the season in Montreal, was coming off a strong performance Monday against the Maple Leafs. He didn’t stand out as much in this game although St. Louis acknowledged that “he had his moments.”

Slafkovsky managed to take seven shots, only two of which reached the net and there seemed to be a problem over the first two periods because Caufield, who is the certified sniper on the roster, didn’t get enough touches. He had only one shot, which was blocked.

Advertisement 3

Article content

Caufield did find the back of the net late in the third period when Suzuki set him up on a power play and he beat Anton Forsberg with a blast from the left faceoff circle.

“It was a great pass,” said Caufield. “I think it went through two defenders and I didn’t see it until it got to me.”

Suzuki did struggle on faceoffs, which has been a recurring problem. He won only 10 of 26 draws for a success rate of 38 per cent, but he wasn’t alone. The Canadiens were at 40 per cent as a team and the only player above .500 was Jake Evans who won eight of 11 for a success rate of 73 per cent.

Evans is one of five experienced NHL centres battling for four spots but his ability to win faceoffs and fill a spot on the penalty-kill will likely earn him ice time even if it means moving to the wing. He had three shots on goal and earned an assist when he spotted David Savard going to the net.

Advertisement 4

Article content

Rookie Owen Beck had another strong game in a third-line role when though he uncharacteristically went 0-for-4 on faceoffs. He was rewarded with a three-year entry-level contract earlier in the day but it won’t kick in for a while because he’ll eventually head back to junior.

Rookie defenceman Arber Xhekaj had a busy night. He was limited to 16 minutes of ice time because he spent five minutes in the penalty box after a first-period fight with Matt Kastelic. Xhekaj said the fight didn’t surprise him because he has a history with the Senators, but he would have preferred that Kastelic observed the niceties and invited him to dance.

“If he had asked me to fight instead of jumping me, it would have just been a fight,” said Xhekaj. “I knew something was coming and it’s not over because I made some new enemies tonight.”

Advertisement 5

Article content

Xhekaj displayed his offensive touch by scoring a goal. He’s battling to stay in Montreal said the Canadiens “will do what’s best for me.”

The Canadiens showed video highlights of the 1972 Canada-Soviet Union Summit Series during a break in the first period but there was a muted response from the crowd when the camera panned to four members of the victorious Canadian team — Yvan Cournoyer, Serge Savard, Guy Lapointe and Peter Mahovllch.

Recommended from Editorial

Latest National Stories

    Advertisement 1


Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

Leave a comment

SMM Panel PDF Kitap indir