The Montreal Canadiens were completely dominant at five-on-five last night, though their anemic power play somewhat dominated the storyline of the game. While special teams yet again sinking them against the Toronto Maple Leafs is cause for some concern, there was a lot more to like in that game if you could look past the dreaded “power kill.”
Most notably, Kaiden Guhle was a force, and looks ready to take a step forward as a top-pair option in Montreal.
Putting aside how hilarious it is for the only Habs goal to have come shorthanded, on a night where their power play was so incredibly useless, this was an impressive play from Guhle. It was obviously drawn up, but he activated immediately after the draw was one, and the shot was perfect. We know how well he can play defensively, but his offensive potential is at times an afterthought. He looks ready to flip that script, if the pre-season is any indication.
And while he was flashing his offensive chops against the Leafs, it came at no detriment to his defensive game. He was excellent in his own zone, constantly turning pucks over and sending them the other way in transition.
He was arguably the best player on either side of the ice, and certainly the best defenceman. The only frustrating thing was that the team didn’t use him at all on the power play, despite showing some skills that definitely looked like they could have helped on that front. It is somewhat maddening that both units could be as awful as they were against Toronto, with no thought for throwing Guhle out there and seeing if he could kick start it from the point.
He should be getting power play time moving forward, and you can bet that he’ll be playing a lot of minutes for Montreal, with or without special teams consideration.
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