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Bottom Six Minutes: Juraj Slafkovsky finds his place on the top line

Nov 4, 2023; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; Montreal Canadiens left wing Juraj Slafkovsky (20) controls the puck from the St. Louis Blues during the first period at Enterprise Center. | Credit: Jeff Le-USA TODAY Sports

The Montreal Canadiens dropped their second-straight contest in regulation on Saturday night, a 6-3 loss to the St. Louis Blues. It has been a quick, but difficult road swing for them, going 0-2-1 since their last game at the Bell Centre. Luckily for them, they’ll be back in their own building this Tuesday looking for more favourable results.

In other good news, they may have found a top line that works with Juraj Slafkovsky, Cole Caufield, and Nick Suzuki.

When on the ice at even-strength, they posted a 58.42% expected-goals for, and though they didn’t put one in until garbage time, their overall play was a welcome silver lining in a bad game. They did what top lines are supposed to do; controlling the bulk of the scoring chances and keeping the opposition on their heels throughout the night.

Slafkovsky’s goal was of course scored on the power play, where he plays on a unit that doesn’t involve Caufield or Suzuki, but it seemed to be a byproduct of increased confidence. If anything, the stellar five-on-five play suggested maybe Slafkovsky should also earn a promotion to play with his new linemates on what has been an anemic top unit. If the team really wants to find out whether that line was no more than a flash in the pan, letting them play all situations together would be logical.

Calls for Slafkovsky to be sent to the Laval Rocket have grown louder by the game in the early goings of this season. Those calls certainly have their merits, but have fallen on deaf ears with the organization. If they won’t consider a stint in the AHL, they have to give this top line a longer look to find out if it’s the answer they’ve been looking for.

If it doesn’t continue working as well as it did last night, then the AHL route would be the next logical move.

Click the play button below to listen to your full Bottom Six Minutes, also available wherever you get your podcasts. We’ll return following Tuesday night’s return to the Bell Centre against the Tampa Bay Lightning.