Photo: Nathan Denette, The canadian Press
Jesperi Kotkaniemi scoring a goal during the first game against the Penguins on Saturday
The line of centres of the Canadian should be one of its weaknesses in the face of the Pittsburgh Penguins, but montreal is found to be a victory of cause the surprise in part thanks to the play of his four centres.
The Canadian will have the chance to eliminate the Penguins and reach the quarter-finals of the Association of the East as early as Friday, during the presentation of the fourth match, to 16-h.
After three meetings, the centres of the two teams have won each of the six points. Sidney Crosby has tallied two goals and an assist, while Evgeni Malkin has been limited to a single aid. “We respond well. “KK” [Jesperi Kotkaniemi], “Suze” [Nick Suzuki] or “Dome” [Max Domi], these are young centres. But we show the character. We don’t let them walk all over you, said the center Phillip Danault. We respect [the Penguins], but we play our game. We are here to win and nothing else. “
Kotkaniemi is the only attacker of the Habs to have hit the target more than once during the first three games. Suzuki has collected a goal and an assist, while Danault has two aides at his record. Domi has also been noted a few times, including by his blows and sometimes sneaky to the place of Crosby.
The line of centers of the Habs has often been criticized in recent decades in explaining the trials and tribulations of the team. The future however seems to be promising, the four centers in the education and training aged 27 years and under. And this is without forgetting Ryan Poehling and Jake Evans, who have interesting potential. “We have drafted or acquired players such as Kotkaniemi, Suzuki, and Domi because we feel that we need to improve at the center, noted the head coach, Claude Julien. This is a good start. The team is still young and we believe that it will continue to improve. “
When he was asked about the inexperience of their centres, Julien had said prior to the start of the series that he has had to deal with the items that it has on hand. What was supposed to be a disadvantage is, finally, not one, thanks in particular to the quality of the game of Kotkaniemi and Suzuki, both aged 20 years. And when Julien has decided to redraft its trios after the first period Wednesday night, he had the happy hand — these changes have caused a shock among his players. Suzuki has found itself at the center of Tomas Tatar and Brendan Gallagher, Kotkaniemi has played with Jonathan Drouin and Joel Armia, while Danault has inherited responsibilities a little more defensive in the company of Artturi Lehkonen and Paul Byron. “Sometimes, these changes are the key, noted Danault. Claude went for a big manoeuvre, and it has borne fruit. I was playing hockey more simple with “Lehky” and “Pauly”. It has been beneficial. “
Danault and Suzuki are the two strikers most often employed by Julien since the beginning of the series, with an average utilization of 20 min 38 s, Suzuki shows a differential of +1, while Danault is zero despite his mission to play against the best opponent. “He always takes the put in play important, and often win. It is a very important cog within the team, ” said defender Ben Chiarot about Danault. We need to see success. “
The Canadian has also managed to stifle the attack of the Penguins in the third period of the third game after taking the lead 4-3 early in the engagement. It will have to do it one last time before you can declare victory. “We don’t feel different after our first victory. We have gained trust, but you must keep the feet on the ground in the series, recalled Chiarot. We need three wins. The work is not completed and the group remains very focused. “
Besides, Julien had no details to offer on the state of health of Evans, who left the game Wednesday in the second period after suffering a harsh defeat from Brandon Tanev. Julien was, however, admitted that Evans was a case uncertain for the fourth match.
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