Montreal Canadiens: 24 Thoughts On Habs Seesaw Effort That Was Enough In Game 50

Feb 6, 2024; Washington, District of Columbia, USA;
Feb 6, 2024; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; / Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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Third Period Thoughts

Brandon Gignac has looked pretty good in his Canadiens debut. Wearing Sergei Kostitsyn's number 74 jersey, he is clearly fast enough to play at the NHL and has the work ethic to succeed at this level. With the dearth of centers on the roster, there is an opportunity for this minor league veteran to play third line center the rest of the season.

While there are not enough centers on the team, there are too many defensemen. Jordan Harris was a healthy scratch last night but his play doesn't warrant him sitting in the stands. We are circling back to trading Savard now, but it just makes so much sense so these young players get to play regularly. Sure, it is great to have veterans around to guide the younger players, but it isn't good for the younger players if it means they don't play.

Juraj Slafkovsky nearly scored a goal after Darcy Kuemper turned the puck over the Caufield. Slafkovsky missed, but then hustled for a loose puck and met Tom Wilson with a body check before taking possession of the puck from the ferocious winger and protected it from Wilson before making a pass down low. It didn't lead to much, but the battle along the boards against one of the nastiest wingers in the league was impressive for the Canadiens youngster.

A couple of shifts later, Slafkovsky picked up a pass from Jake Evans in the offensive zone, made a nice little toe drag move to the middle of the ice and then fired the puck into the back of the net with a wicked wrist shot. All the tools are coming together from forechecking to goal scoring and the 6'3" winger is becoming difficult for opposing teams to handle.

Mike Matheson had an assist on Slafkovsky's goal as well and set a career high in points with 35. Pretty impressive considering this is the team's 50th game of the season. Interestingly, his previous career year was last season with the Canadiens when he scored 34 points in just 48 games. No one could have predicted he would be this good when the Canadiens acquired him.

Rasmus Sandin fired a laser of a one-timer over the shoulder of Montembeault to make it a 4-2 game. What a shot from a young player, I would recommend not every giving up on a player like him in a trade unless you are a team that doesn't win Stanley Cups for like 60 years.

Slafkovsky absolutely labeled a one-timer on the power play, in Alex Ovechkin's house, and had his second of the game to put it out of reach for the Capitals. The 19 year old is now up to 15 points in his last 21 games and is clearly arriving as a force to be reckoned with in the NHL.

Overall, an up and down effort from the Canadiens. Suzuki was great in the first, Slafkovsky incredible in the third and Montembeault terrific for 60 minutes. Habs are up to 50 points in 50 games on the season and remain on pace for 82.