The Montreal Canadiens ended their brief home stand before heading on the road with a whimper, losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning by a score of 5-1 in front of a disappointed crowd. It wasn’t their worst game of the year, but an inability to capitalize on their chances against a Tampa team that had no problem cashing in on their own was a recipe for disaster. It was, all told, a night for them to forget.
But speaking of trying not to remember things, the fact that Kaiden Guhle is a rookie NHL defenseman is something one can find themselves unintentionally forgetting.
He does things that are well beyond his years on a regular basis, and was a major bright spot in that loss to Tampa as a result. With the team struggling mightily to get anything going offensively, he put on an excellent display in the third period to facilitate them finally finding the back of the net.
It took some serious audacity just to make the move to cut off the initial pass, as the Lightning are gone on an odd-man rush the other way if he fails. He doesn’t, and then puts on an impressive display of skill to dangle a defender and create some misdirection before dishing to Suzuki and getting his team on the board.
Offensive plays like this used to be a rarity in his game, and it could be said that playing that extra year in the WHL before turning pro was big in developing that part of his game. His time with the Edmonton Oil Kings really helped add a new level of offensive ability to an already tight defensive game.
And that excellent defensive play was also on display against Tampa. Take this key stop of a breakaway against none other than Nikita Kucherov.
Absolutely stellar job by Kaiden Guhle to stop Nikita Kucherov of all people on a breakaway, without taking a penalty. pic.twitter.com/l4LTnGxXGl— Matt Drake (@DrakeMT) December 18, 2022
Guhle gets the job done here in a situation where even the best defensemen are more likely to take a penalty than make the stop. He gets beat by the stretch pass, but sticks with it and utilizes his reach to make a miraculous recovery against one of the more dangerous players in the league. A play not just beyond his years, but beyond the abilities of most players at his position.
Again, it is very easy to forget that this is a rookie. If he’s playing like this right now, just imagine how effective he’ll be when he has a few seasons under his belt.
Click the play button below to listen to your full Bottom Six Minutes, also available on all major platforms. We’ll be back for a late game this coming Monday, the Canadiens first trip to a junior arena to face the Arizona Coyotes.