It had been a difficult five-game road trip for the Montreal Canadiens with three losses in their first three games.

However, it all turned around Sunday in game four of the road trip as the Canadiens romped over the Kraken in Seattle 5-1.


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The Montreal Canadiens have been playing hockey for 115 years. The best season ever for a teenager was Henri Richard in 1955-56 when he tallied 40 points. Juraj Slafkovsky is on the verge of breaking that record.

In the first period, the Canadiens jumped out to a big four-goal lead. Slafkovsky got an assist for his 39th point of the season. He needs only one more point to tie Richard. He has three games to achieve the feat.

It’s only three games because Slafkovsky will leave his teenage years behind on March 30. If Slafkovsky keeps his current pace, he should not have any difficulty reaching the total. He has eight points in his last seven games.

It’s been remarkable to see Slafkovsky progress. He’s realizing now that he can stand in front of the net for deflections and rebounds as much as he wants, because no one can move him. A once controversial draft pick is no longer controversial.

In a poll on X, when asked if the Canadiens made the right decision in choosing Slafkovsky, the response was 94 per cent in favour of the pick. Contrast this with a poll done on X the day before the draft, when 85 per cent wanted the Canadiens to choose Shane Wright.

Credit to the Canadiens managerial and scouting staff. They went with a player who was never the consensus pick at number one leading up to the draft, but it appears they made the right choice.

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There are so many great moves made by the organization under Jeff Gorton and Kent Hughes. Kirby Dach is a tremendous acquisition as his ceiling his high. Dach only needs to stay healthy to show it.

They also acquired Alex Newhook, who scored his 11th goal of the year on another Guhle deflection. He added another late in the first period on a 15-foot snap shot. If Newhook stayed healthy this season, he would be on a 24-goal pace for the year. That’s a strong total.

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The team lead in goals is held by Nick Suzuki with 28. He scored an absolute beauty by roofing a shot on a two-on-one with Cole Caufield. The Canadiens absolutely dominated as they led by four after 20 minutes.

The best goal of the night was a shorthanded tally by Mike Matheson. He showed all the skills that he has to score on a breakaway. It didn’t start as a breakaway, but he out-skated Tomas Tatar so severely that he turned it into one. He then beat the goalie Joey Daccord with a gorgeous deke. Matheson was plus-five on the night.


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It wasn’t a perfect night for Montreal as they were dominated in the second and third periods, but Cayden Primeau was strong again. He faced 18 shots in the second period stopping all but one. He stopped 36 of 37 overall. Don’t give up on goalies at the age of 23. They take time to mature.

Primeau is arriving right now as part of a strong tandem with Samuel Montembeault who was an outcast until he was 25. Surprisingly, it is Primeau who has the superior numbers this year, with a .907 save percentage compared with Montembeault’s .903.

The Laval Rocket are in a tremendous fight for a playoff spot in the American Hockey League’s North Division. The Rocket had a strong weekend on the road in Belleville and Toronto, taking six out of a possible six points. Even better news was Belleville, which Laval is fighting for that final spot, had only one point out of a possible six.

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The weekend also saw the start of the North American career of last year’s first-round pick David Reinbacher. He was asked to fly from Switzerland after his season concluded there, and play three games in three days. There was no time for jet lag for Reinbacher. In fact, there was no time to acclimatize at all.

It was remarkable to see all weekend the likely future of the Canadiens blue line on the right side for years to come. Justin Barron and Logan Mailloux also patrolled the right defensive position in an all first-round draft pick display.

Reinbacher played exceptionally well. On Friday, he scored an absolute beauty in his first game. He picked up the puck at centre ice. He then made an outstanding feint to beat the first man, then took on the defender and shot just as he was about to be closed upon. His shot was perfect as it went far side to that magic spot right over the goalie’s pad and out of reach of his hand.

Reinbacher will not be known for his offensive prowess, though, when he becomes a staple on the Canadiens blue line. The search was for stability and smarts, and it was easy to find. The Austrian national knows exactly what to do when he is on the ice.

Defensively, he boxes out in front of the net, ties up the attacker, leaving the forwards no options should a rebound come back out. When retrieving the puck, he is already assessing his options before he gets to it, and makes his play immediately. He’s always planning ahead. He makes the right decisions. Physically, he is not a killer out there, but he is imposing enough.

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The only minor complaint would be that, occasionally, it would be advantageous to hold on to it a bit longer to assess whether there may be an outlet pass that could free up some attack. This also might be a decision to play it a little safe on opening weekend to play a clean game. Reinbacher is certainly low-risk.

That would be the term to describe his game: low-risk. Clean, steady and smart will also be used a lot to describe Reinbacher.

A successful blue line doesn’t just feature the prolific offence of Lane Hutson, the ripper of a shot that Logan Mailloux has. A strong blue line features smart defenders who can shutdown attackers as well. Sometimes a team needs a goal down 3-2, and sometimes a team needs to hold on for the win up 3-2.

The Canadiens blue line of the future will have a strong balance. It’s impossible to know the exact make-up of the eventual Canadiens defensive core, but on the right, Mailloux, Barron and Reinbacher will be formidable, if they grow their games at their present rate.

On the left side, after some of the regulars age out in the coming years, Kaiden Guhle, Lane Hutson, and Arber Xhekaj will also provide excellent balance. There will be some growing pains, of course, but that is a blue line with a tremendous amount of promise.

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If one of those players doesn’t grow as expected, the club also has Jayden Struble, Jordan Harris, and Jonathan Kovacevic, who are also young enough to earn a spot on the future blue line. That’s after two of the best, Mike Matheson and David Savard, have moved on.

The number of possibilities on the blue line is practically a lottery ticket. General manager Kent Hughes has a lot of dealing to do when he decides it is time.

Brian Wilde, a Montreal-based sports writer, brings you Call of the Wilde on after each Canadiens game.

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