Moving Forward | Habs Notepad

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Habs News: NHL, Montreal Canadiens, Martin St. Louis, Denis Gurianov, Jonathan Drouin, Nick Suzuki, Jayden Struble, Laval Rocket, Trois-Rivieres Lions

Jonathan Drouin, Montreal Canadiens (screenshot)

ROCKET SPORTS MEDIA | LAVAL, QC. — On Saturday, the Montreal Canadiens were at Amalie Arena to face the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Canadiens had a one-goal lead through 40 minutes before the Lightning struck with three goals in the third period to win 5-3

“I really love the fight of our group and the engagement. I think it’s a step in the right direction for us to allow ourselves to compete here down this stretch in these circumstances,” Martin St. Louis said.

Denis Gurianov continued lighting the red lamp in the Canadiens uniform netting in Tampa Bay for the fourth time in the last five games. He has scored five goals in 11 games with the Canadiens after having two goals in 43 games prior to his acquisition from the Dallas Stars.

“I think he’s starting to feel more comfortable in our concepts. He’s a player that asks a lot of questions, he’s responsible for his success, wants to do well and help the team. He asks a lot of questions on the defensive side and he deserves all the success because he’s engaged and tries to learn how we play,” St. Louis evaluated.

Gurianov will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season.

Moving Forward

After being late for a team meeting on Friday morning, Jonathan Drouin was not allowed by St. Louis to participate in the practice and his presence for Saturday’s game was uncertain.

Kaiden Guhle‘s injury suffered against the Florida Panthers on Thursday forced the coach to dress Drouin as there was no extra available players on the roster. Drouin had the best seat in Amalie Arena, watching the entire 60 minutes from the bench.

St. Louis said that it was not an easy decision to sit the forward but it was the right one. Drouin leads the team with eight points since March 3rd. The 27-year old was not surprised that he would get no ice time during the match as he was informed by the coach in the morning.

“It was not an easy day. I was two minutes late to the team meeting. It’s my ninth year in the NHL, and it’s never happened to me before,” Drouin said. “We have team rules that we have to follow regardless of who you are.”

Both Drouin and St. Louis said that this is now behind them, and it’s time to move forward. “[Jonathan] handled it tremendously well. Me and Jo have a great relationship and I got to know him a lot this year. I think he’s had a great season for us. I love the kid and for him to handle it the way he did, I gained more respect for him,” St. Louis said.

As the team captain, Nick Suzuki said that being late is unacceptable, but he was proud of Drouin’s behaviour during the game. “Jo did a good job supporting the guys on the bench. It’s a tough situation. We have standards that need to be met or you don’t play.”

Struble Arrives in Laval

After signing with the organization on Wednesday, defenceman Jordan Struble stepped foot inside Place Bell for the first time on Friday.

The 21-year old had the option of holding off from signing with the organization and becoming an unrestricted free agent on August 15th. Loyalty to the team that drafted him in 2019 and his relationship with his former family advisor Kent Hughes simplified his decision.

The Canadiens organization depth on left defence will create internal competition. “No matter where you go, you’re going to have to fight for your spot. I definitely know that there’s a lot of left defenceman talent here and I’m ready to work hard and try to earn my spot,” Struble said.

He agrees that the AHL is the right spot for him now to continue his development. “Just take every day in and make the most of it. I think there’s some good time here where I can really develop and get better.”

Fellow Northeastern University alumni Cayden Primeau transitioned from the NCAA to the AHL after the 2018-19 season and the biggest adjustment for him was the amount of games as a pro.

Struble hit the ice for the first time in a Rocket uniform on Saturday morning. He will practice with the team this week and learn the system via video before a decision is made on the timing of his first game as a pro.

Rocket Split Weekend

The Laval Rocket hosted the Utica Comets for a pair of games over the weekend. On Friday, an early goal in the third period by Laval reduced their deficit to one goal. They were not able to add another before the end of regulation and headed to 3-2 loss

“I thought we played awesome. We played our heart out, the guys are competing. For a coach, you can’t ask better. Obviously if you get the win it’s better but the guys are working hard. They’re giving everything they have and we are a little limited with skills wise right now,” Jean-Francois Houle said.

On Saturday, the Rocket took a two-goal lead 3:38 into the game and never looked back in a 4-1 victory in front of a sold out building at Place Bell.

“Getting the lead early and playing with a lead is a big difference compared to [Friday] when we were chasing the game,” Houle said.

Primeau was named the third star of Saturday’s game after making 27 saves. “He did great. It’s not easy mentally to go at 7:00 pm. and the next day at 3:00 pm. knowing the importance of these games, but I’m really proud of him that he’s doing it and it’s only going to make him a better goalie,” Houle said.

“I’m really happy with my reads. I’ve been decisive in playing the puck, that’s been a big focus recently,” Primeau evaluated his recent play.

The Rocket resume their homestand on Wednesday by hosting the Bridgeport Islanders.

Lions Split Weekend

The Trois-Rivieres Lions hosted the Florida Everblades in a pair of games over the weekend. On Friday, the score was 5-5 with 5:18 remaining when Florida broke the tie. An empty net goal was added in the final minute to allow the Everblades to win 7-5.

“We saw two teams. In the first period, we were dominant playing responsibly. In the second, we lost our focus and our identity and in the third, it was a bit of everything,” coach and general manager Marc-Andre Bergeron said.

Saturday’s rematch was tighter defensively. The first goal of the game came 13:30 into the second period with the Lions take the lead. Trois-Rivieres ended up with the 2-1 win to snap three-game losing streak.

“Learning to win is something that is quickly lost. Lately, we’ve been finding ways to lose more often than not. It was important to regain our winning attitude and that’s what we did. Enthusiasm and commitment were there so it was nice to see,” Bergeron said.

Joe Vrbetic was named the first start of the match, stopping 41 shots. “He is a young goalie with a lot of potential. He fights to be the number one goalie every time he’s in goal. It’s nice to see him perform so well and he’s able to give us a performance like this night after night,” Bergeron said.

The Lions continue their homestand on Wednesday by hosting the Norfolk Admirals.

(Quotes courtesy of Le Nouvelliste)

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By Chris G., Senior Writer
All Habs Hockey Magazine
Copyright © 2022 Rocket Sports

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