If the Montreal Canadiens were hoping to get any wins during their pre-season run, they’ll have to come against Ottawa. Facing the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday night, it was their last chance to beat any team not named the Senators. Losing 5-1 will always sting, but this time it came with a very encouraging performance, from a very important part of the Habs rebuild.
Juraj Slafkovsky has been underwhelming thus far in a Canadiens uniform, but he gave glimpses of what he could become against the Leafs on Monday night.
Of course, he assisted on the lone Habs goal of the night, coming from a solid net drive and a few cracks at scoring himself before Jonathan Drouin cleaned up the rebound.
Juraj Slafkovsky drives the net and Jonathan Drouin finishes the play off for a power play goal! pic.twitter.com/sMAyyqe42W— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) October 4, 2022
But the point, while impressive, was really a reward for his best overall game so far in a Canadiens jersey. He looked more engaged, better positioned, and was close to finding the net on his own a few times throughout the night. It seemed like he is getting a better handle on the speed of the NHL, and what he needs to do to have success.
This pass to Mike Hoffman is one that ends in a goal more often than not.
Slafkovsky starting to feel it here. Excellent pass to give Hoffman a scoring chance. pic.twitter.com/Fs8bFyo3gN— Matt Drake (@DrakeMT) October 4, 2022
And this shot is one that also probably ends in a goal more often than not.
Slafkovsky getting closer, but absolutely robbed on this one. pic.twitter.com/3I5x6A27ru— Matt Drake (@DrakeMT) October 4, 2022
Dominant, he was not, but it was a highly effective outing from Slafkovsky, and one that lends itself to the idea that he still has a lot of room to improve. There were still some moments where he looked a little tentative with the puck, but they were fewer and farther between than they had been in previous games.
Whether he starts the year in Laval or Montreal, the key is to see continued improvement throughout the year. Laval might be the best place for him to keep getting up to speed, but I’d advocate for at least one more pre-season look before they make that decision. He seems like he’s getting better, so give him a chance to prove that this one game wasn’t an anomaly.
Click the play button below to listen to your full Bottom Six Minutes, also available on your podcast platform of choice. It’s a quick turnaround, as the Habs will take on the Ottawa Senators tonight, and we’ll have another episode thereafter.