Bottom Six Minutes: Juraj Slafkovsky’s work with Adam Nicholas pays off

The new era of player development in Montreal appears to be on the right track.

Usually, games that end 1-1 after regulation don’t make for the most exciting television. That wasn’t the case with the Calgary Flames visiting the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night, as they turned in one of the better games you’re likely to see that feature a mere two regulation goals. It had a great goaltending battle, and plenty of excitement to go around.

Perhaps even more exciting than the game for Habs fans, is the fact that Juraj Slafkovsky’s work with skills coach Adam Nicholas is paying off.

A well-timed curl while heading up the wall towards the point generates some space for him to operate. He keeps his head up, scanning as he moves back towards the goal line, and locates Josh Anderson, who releases into the slot. Putting a perfect pass through traffic, Slafkovsky set up the tying goal that would ultimately allow the Habs to get to overtime, and eventually a win in the shootout.

It was an excellent play that the team badly needed to get one past Jacob Markstrom, who until that point was perfect on the night. And it wasn’t just that one play, as Slafkovsky looked dangerous on nearly every shift he took.

This stellar game also comes shortly after we saw video of him working with Nicholas on his awareness, and keeping his head up along the boards to improve his vision.

The Canadiens’ addition of Nicholas to their development team has heralded a new era in Montreal. They don’t simply expect players to figure out how to work within their system, they’re working on specific, intricate details of the game one-on-one. It will likely need to continue regularly for these things to become a habit for Slafkovsky, but the early returns suggest that these sessions are having the desired effect.

As Slafkovsky is one of the more important pieces in this team’s rebuild, it should come as an extremely welcome positive sign for the future for the organization.

Click the play button below to listen to your full Bottom Six Minutes, also available on your podcast platform of choice. Next up is a back-to-back for the Habs, starting on the road against the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday night.

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