The Montreal Canadiens have taken their talents to the Maritimes for the final two games of their pre-season, kicking things off in Gander, Newfoundland against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night. Though they were handed a seventh straight defeat, there were once more some bright spots that suggest better days ahead.
Most notably, Kirby Dach appears to have the potential to be one of Kent Hughes’s best acquisitions thus far.
The puck protection, hands, and wow-factor stick-handling that allow him to dog-walk defenders were on display against Ottawa. His linemates aren’t going to miss every time he does something like this, and it isn’t the first time we’ve seen similar drives through the middle from him during the pre-season.
Kirby Dach goes HAM on the Ottawa D, and Christian Dvorak misses a wide open net. pic.twitter.com/8NnpZtdqL8— Matt Drake (@DrakeMT) October 6, 2022
His positioning was also excellent, and he ended up being rewarded on the power play by Brendan Gallagher for simply being in the right place at the right time.
Kirby Dach getting rewarded for a heck of a game so far. pic.twitter.com/EMzaqy4KhX— Matt Drake (@DrakeMT) October 6, 2022
This was his best game of the pre-season so far, which is saying something because he has been generally good throughout. Chicago was perhaps willing to give up on him a little early in his career, and now the Canadiens get to find out if they made a mistake there. Kent Hughes may end up patting himself on the back for that trade when all is said and done.
In other news, Juraj Slafkovsky had another impressive game. He assisted on Josh Anderson’s goal late in the third period, but more impressive than the assist were some of the scoring chances he created that didn’t pan out.
Good work below the goal line by Juraj Slafkovsky leads to a scoring chance in front. pic.twitter.com/q0x1JvAHqM— Matt Drake (@DrakeMT) October 6, 2022
More excellent work by Slafkovsky down low. Spins off pressure, sending two Sens clattering into each other, sets up a scoring chance in the slot. pic.twitter.com/Dfimu3pPB6— Matt Drake (@DrakeMT) October 7, 2022
He was a terror for the Senators low in the offensive zone, spinning off pressure and looking for openings to set up his teammates. His possession game is impressive, and it seems like he’s getting a better sense of time and space with each passing game.
He also drew the penalty that precipitated the Dach goal with a wild centre-lane drive.
This goal was also brought to you by a great drive from Slafkovsky, drawing the penalty. Excuse the shitty video quality. pic.twitter.com/1GGPeALkc6— Matt Drake (@DrakeMT) October 6, 2022
Like Dach, this was arguably Slafkovsky’s most impressive game thus far, and the question of where he’s going to start the regular season still seems very up in the air. It wouldn’t be surprising if they give him one more look in the other Maritimes game on Saturday to help make that decision.
Bonus highlights time!
Kaiden Guhle’s snipe from the point. This is his preferred method of generating offence from the point, as opposed to the classic slap-shot preferred by many defenders. It is quick, effective, and something we can hope to see often this season from him.
Kaiden Guhle with the SNIPE from the point. #Habs on the board. pic.twitter.com/7cQdNRDLog— Matt Drake (@DrakeMT) October 6, 2022
Arber Xhekaj is the sheriff. Enough said.
Arber Xhekaj with the unanimous decision over Watson pic.twitter.com/SdOlhaZJ2M— Matt Drake (@DrakeMT) October 7, 2022
Click the play button below to listen to your full Bottom Six Minutes, also available on your podcast platform of choice. We’re back again after Saturday night’s pre-season finale in Bouctouche, New-Brunswick, and after that, we’re on to the regular season!