While Canada and Czechia were treating everyone to an OT thriller in their World Junior Hockey Championship game, the Montreal Canadiens provided anything but. Losing 4-1 to the New York Rangers, it was a very low-event game, where the loudest cheer from the Bell Centre faithful came when the result of the aforementioned U20 game was announced.
But there was one small piece of good news therein, as they actually took one of my lineup suggestions from the last game, and it worked.
Now, I must admit that the reasoning behind them promoting Juraj Slafkovsky in the lineup went much deeper than me asking for it — Brendan Gallagher being out certainly forced their hand. Still, I felt vindicated in my comments from the last installment of the BSM in what transpired on the ice on Thursday.
Slafkovsky did make a very ill-advised pass during a power play that led directly to a Chris Kreider goal, but his five-on-five play with Josh Anderson and Christian Dvorak was actually quite good. They were one of the best lines for the team from a scoring chance and possession standpoint, and while this isn’t saying much on a night where the team was dominated, it can be considered an encouraging sign.
They should keep Slafkovsky in that spot for the time being. If they can’t, or if they feel tempted to move him back down to the fourth line, they should simply give him a stint with the Laval Rocket. They did not draft him to be a fourth line grinder, so it makes zero sense to go back to using him as such.
Frankly, with the way the team as a whole is playing right now, Laval may be the better option. He could get a chance to develop his game on the farm, and would almost certainly be a lock for top-six minutes every night.
Click the play button below to listen to your full Bottom Six Minutes, also available wherever you get your podcasts. Enjoy your Friday, and we’ll return with another episode following this Saturday’s game against the St. Louis Blues.