The Montreal Canadiens finally got themselves a win at the rookie tournament in Buffalo, taking down the Ottawa Senators in a 7-2 rout. There was a lot to like from this tournament in general, and this particular game provided an excellent glimpse of what some of their young players can do.
Firstly, Arber Xhekaj is a man with whom one would be unwise to quarrel.
Arber Xhekaj with the KO on Zachary Massicotte pic.twitter.com/zCeamWR0nd— Matt Drake (@DrakeMT) September 18, 2022
He did take a few undisciplined penalties in the game, one of which precipitated the decidedly one-sided fight above. He’ll need to get a better handle on that, but the early returns suggest that he has every intent on being a nasty physical presence wherever the organization elects to start him this season.
Opinions may vary greatly on the subject of fighting in hockey, but it happens, and “The Sheriff” is probably your huckleberry if he’s in the lineup and you’re looking for trouble...
Elsewhere, Juraj Slafkovsky may not have scored, but he appears to be gaining more patience in the way he’s playing.
Slafkovsky learning more patience already.— Matt Drake (@DrakeMT) September 18, 2022
Forces a turnover, starts in on the wing but just uses his frame to protect the puck instead of trying the hero play. Support comes, and he sets up a great scoring chance for Owen Beck. pic.twitter.com/3YpUOZXPsi
Xavier Simoneau stole the show in this particular game, however. He was everywhere, showing his motor, bottomless gas tank, and ability to play a much bigger man’s game out there. Oh, and he also scored two goals in the process, leaving the impression that he will likely become a fan favourite in Laval this season.
Owen Beck continues to show poise, and perhaps more offensive upside than he was expected to have. He should be a very interesting player to follow during the pre-season, and certainly when he’s back with Mississauga in the OHL.
Owen Beck had nowhere to go with this puck, two guys all over him, and somehow turns it into a scoring chance. pic.twitter.com/GQLKcCqR8p— Matt Drake (@DrakeMT) September 18, 2022
And Arber Xhekaj was not the only defenseman to provide a physical presence in this game. Kaiden Guhle, and Gianni Fairbrother both chipped in with some big hits of their own, providing some sandpaper on the back end in the lopsided win.
Gianni Fairbrother throwing his weight around a little pic.twitter.com/eNwmt04zGi— Matt Drake (@DrakeMT) September 18, 2022
Of course, Kaiden Guhle nearly putting a dude over the boards. pic.twitter.com/mLR6nlKqSj— Matt Drake (@DrakeMT) September 18, 2022
Click the play button below to listen to my full thoughts on the game, and we’ll be back with more BSM content once the Canadiens get into the pre-season!