The Montreal Canadiens currently have one of the best prospect pools in the NHL. To beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in the play-ins series, they need the young guns to play to the best of their abilities. Guys like Carey Price, Shea Weber, and Brendan Gallagher can’t carry the weight on their own, young guns like Nick Suzuki, Cale Fleury, and Ryan Poehling need to step up. Three players in specific will have the opportunity to make the biggest impact on Montreal in the Play-ins.
Suzuki had a huge impact on the Habs during the regular season, and he’s been known to clutch up in the playoffs. He was a beast on the way to the Memorial Cup leading the Guelph Storm. While junior playoffs draw almost no comparison to the NHL’s postseason, which has the toughest games in the world, Suzuki could still have a major impact on this series. Suzuki had one of the best rookie seasons in Canadiens recent history. It’s time for him to close it out on a good note.
Mete had an up and down season. He was the Habs’ best defenceman before going down with an injury in February. When he returned to the line-up, his spot on the top pair alongside Shea Weber was gone, as Ben Chiarot had replaced him. The Weber-Chiarot pairing wasn’t very good, but Julien stuck with them and looks to keep the two together in the play-ins. Meaning Mete will likely find himself with Xavier Ouellet on the third pairing. Which, for Canadiens fans, is the last place you want to see Mete. However, there is an upside to this as Mete and Ouellet should complement one another well. It would be hugely beneficial for Mete to get some powerplay time. And this is more of an opportunity than a set back for the young defenseman.
Similar to Mete, Kotkaniemi had an extremely inconsistent season. He even found himself in the AHL towards the end of the season. Kotkaniemi has an opportunity to prove himself as an elite centerman in the NHL, and there is no better time to do so than in the postseason. During camp Kotkaniemi was playing alongside Paul Byron and Artturi Lehkonen, now as that isn’t the perfect line for Kotkaniemi, he’ll need to adapt and be a team player, it’s the best line for the Canadiens to run during this series.
Will the Young Guns be enough?
The entire team needs to step up to beat a team as good as the Penguins. But these young guns will need to help the roster. Obviously, almost everything has to go right for the Habs to move on. They need to use their entire bench, the players need to all be on the same page, and they need to rally around Carey Price. Getting the powerplay rolling, and solve their goal scoring issues are the key to success for the Montreal Canadiens.
Follow me on Twitter @KingAngus4
Come discuss this and much more at the Overtime Heroics forums!