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Juraj Slafkovsky played like he wants his promotion to be permanent

The rookie first-overall pick had one of his best games of the year after being bumped up in the lineup

Montreal Canadiens v Calgary Flames Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images

While the Montreal Canadiens were absolutely run over by the Calgary Flames at even strength last night, this was only true for most of their lines. The trio of Juraj Slafkovsky, Sean Monahan, and Josh Anderson were a positive, controlling 58.33% of even-strength shot attempts, on a night where their team controlled a paltry 35.16% overall.

A big part of that success was the promotion of Slafkovsky to the trio, which the rookie seemed to be on a mission to make permanent.

Even if you remove that goal 13 seconds into the game, this was one of the better efforts we’ve seen from Slafkovsky in a Canadiens uniform. He was tenacious in puck battles wherever they happened, looked great in transition, and could have earned his first multi-goal game if not for ringing one off the post in the second period. He was arguably the most impressive forward for the Habs in an otherwise rough game for the team.

In the third period, he took a puck to the mouth, and ended up being sent to the box to serve a bench minor, assessed as a result of him being slow to get back to the bench. It seemed like an odd decision, since the penalty wasn’t really his fault, but he made no complaint. When he came out of the box, he flew into the Calgary zone and went right to work on the forecheck like nothing happened. It was impressive.

This new trio seems like one that warrants a longer look, as breaking up the only net positive line from a game where the team was thoroughly dominated would be an odd choice. At the bare minimum, we should see them one more time together against the Edmonton Oilers to see if they can replicate their success.

Slafkovsky played like he wants to stay on that line for a while. Like he belongs there. And since the Habs surely didn’t draft him first-overall to be a fourth liner, I’d say keep the promotion in force for as long as he keeps playing like he belongs there.