The Canadiens will be looking for their first preseason win after two losses when they face the Winnipeg Jets Thursday night at the Bell Centre (7 p.m., TSN2, TSN3, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).
The Canadiens lost their preseason opener 2-1 to the New Jersey Devils Monday night at the Bell Centre and were shut out 3-0 by the Maple Leafs Wednesday night in Toronto.
Since the Montreal Canadiens making the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in 28 years, this newsletter is the dedicated Montreal Canadiens fan's source for exclusive Habs content, insight and analysis.
Thanks for signing up!
A welcome email is on its way. If you don't see it, please check your junk folder.
The next issue of HI/O: Montreal's Road to the Cup will soon be in your inbox.
Thursday’s game will the the third of eight preseason games for the Canadiens and they are in a stretch of playing three games in four nights with another game Saturday in Ottawa against the Senators (7 p.m., TSN5, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).
“I don’t know if it’s going fast,” Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis said about the training-camp process following Thursday’s morning skate at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard. “It’s busy days. I’m very thankful for my coaches being really tolerant with this amount of work. We’ve had 70-plus players here in camp and we want to make sure that if we’re meeting with one group everybody gets to see that meeting. So sometimes you have to do that meeting three times.
“It’s a lot of hours for us, but it’s a really, really good exercise as well,” St. Louis added. “I’m finding the evaluation is a big part of camp, but the preparation that you put into it is probably more important so that we look organized and the guys can be evaluated better.”
St. Louis said he will be making some cuts in the coming days.
Below are the names of a few players for Canadiens fans to keep an eye on during Thursday night’s game.
Kirby Dach will be at centre on the No. 1 line with Caufield on his left and Emil Heineman on his right.
Caufield, who shoots right, and Heineman, who shoots left, will both be playing on their opposite wings.
St. Louis noted that he used Caufield mostly at left wing after he took over from head coach Dominique Ducharme last season. Caufield scored only one goal in the 30 games he played with Ducharme as head coach and then scored 22 goals in 37 games after St. Louis took over.
Caufield’s shot is his biggest weapon and St. Louis noted that he’s very good at getting to the centre of the ice and is much more dangerous there when he has the puck on his forehand instead of his backhand. The coach added that Caufield is also better protected in the defensive zone on his off wing because when he has his stick blade against the boards to get the puck he’s less exposed with his back to the defenceman.
Heineman also has a big shot, which is why St. Louis wants to play him on his opposite wing.
The Canadiens acquired Heineman last season from Calgary in the trade that sent Tyler Toffoli to the Flames.
Last season, Heineman had 11-5-16 totals in 38 games with Leksands in the Swedish Hockey League. Heineman will also be on the first power-play unit against the Jets along with Caufield, Brendan Gallagher Christian Dvorak and Chris Wideman.
“It’s really fun to feel that confidence from the coach and show that I can use my shot,” Heineman said after the morning skate.
Heineman is still adjusting to life in North America and playing on the smaller ice surface.
“It’s a different game over here,” he said. “There’s a lot of board games, a lot of battles and you got to adapt, you got to learn from it.
“You have to adapt to the smaller ice, they’re coming faster,” he added. “You got to be able to protect yourself, be able to see where the other guys on your team are and stuff like that. A lot of plays when you turn your head and stuff like that. You have to make sure you read before you get the puck and be ready out there.”
When asked about the competition level at training camp, Heineman said: “It’s really high, for sure. In (development) camp the first couple of days there everyone was so eager to get out there and just play. It’s real fun, too. It’s for real.”
Heineman said he has worked hard on developing his shot since he was a young boy growing up in Sweden.
“I love to shoot,” he said. “It’s real fun. It’s fun to score, too.”
Gallagher is looking to rebound from an injury-plagued season in which he posted 7-17-24 totals in 56 games.
Gallagher also lost his two longtime linemates last season with Phillip Danault going to the Los Angeles Kings and Tomas Tatar to the Devils. Gallagher played with a variety of linemates last season, but he has been with Dvorak and Evgenii Dadonov since the start of training camp this season and that line will be together again against the Jets.
St. Louis said all three are different types of players but that they complement each other well and the game against the Jets is another chance to evaluate them. The coach added that the line has intrigued him up to this point.
Guhle will be beside David Savard on the Canadiens’ first defence pairing.
Guhle was with Savard for most of training camp last season and almost made the team. It would be a surprise if Guhle doesn’t make the team this year and there’s a good chance Savard will be his partner when the regular season starts Oct. 12 at the Bell Centre against the Maple Leafs.
After playing in Monday’s game against the Devils with Jordan Harris as his partner, Guhle was asked what’s the biggest lesson he learned from training camp last year.
“Just how competitive it is,” he said. “Everyone’s here to take a spot. I think I had a little bit of experience from that from my brother (Brendan of the Anaheim Ducks) and him going through the process. It was good to kind of get through that last year and see how competitive it is. I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Guhle added that he’s looking to make the most of his opportunity this year.
“Just have fun with it,” he said. “I think all I can really do is work hard and compete every day. Just got to control what I can control.”
Allen will make his second preseason start in goal after stopping all 18 shots he faced in the first 29:17 of Monday’s game against the Devils before being replaced by Primeau, who allowed two goals on 13 shots.
A game to forget for Canadiens, but a pregame ceremony to remember
Stu Cowan: Canadiens' Jake Allen to play 'stabilizer' role this season