In the world of the Canadiens, where injuries have become a constant topic of conversation, every little piece of good news is welcome.
Kaiden Guhle’s presence at morning practice on Tuesday is an example of this. The defender seemed in very bad shape on Sunday when he left the game against the St. Louis Blues. With less than two minutes remaining in the third period, Guhle took a hit from Marco Scandella. He retired to the locker room, in pain, visibly injured in the arm or shoulder.
The team had not provided any additional details, and one could wonder if the young man should not be absent from the game. However, he will be at his post this Tuesday evening at the Bell Center against the Anaheim Ducks.
“It pinched when it happened, but once in the locker room, it passed,” said the number 21 after his club’s training.
If the match hadn’t been about to end, Guhle believes he “definitely” would have been able to play again. That’s why.
One who was less fortunate was Jordan Harris. Hit in the head by a check from Samuel Blais, he will not be able to face the Ducks, while Arber Xhekaj will take his place in the lineup. The Canadian said on Sunday that he would be re-evaluated daily.
Harris went to the Bell Center on Tuesday to undergo treatment. The American, shaken and confused after the hit, seemed in very bad shape on Sunday, but he is already better, said his teammate Johnathan Kovacevic. All in all, another good news, although we don’t know when he will be able to play again.
Comfortable on the right
But back to Kaiden Guhle. The prospect of losing him for some time would have created a huge void in training. However, since he is in working order, the opportunity was good to look at his adaptation to the right flank, he who was much more used to playing on the left, his natural side.
On January 13, during Connor McDavid’s visit to the Bell Centre, Martin St-Louis transferred Guhle to the right of Mike Matheson so that his two fastest defenders could be opposed to the big Oilers star. The Albertan has not played on the left since.
He thus seems to have overtaken David Savard in the defensive hierarchy. In 11 games on the right flank, he played just over 22 minutes on average.
“He’s incredible,” exclaimed Johnathan Kovacevic about him. He has all the tools (to succeed), and doesn’t have a big ego at all. He will be the centerpiece of our defense for the future. »
Playing on the right took an “adaptation,” Guhle agreed, especially in the “first three or four games.” “At times, I found myself in a bad position,” he noted. I feel better now. (…) As in all situations, the more repetitions you have, the more comfortable you are. »
Receiving the puck on your backhand requires quicker decision-making and different positioning, he added.
His coach, for his part, stressed that he “would not keep (Guhle) there if he did not perform, if he was not in the right place”.
His greatest strengths, in his eyes, are his mobility and his sense of competition, which serves him well on his opposite side. This is what allows him to “manipulate the adversary”.
“Sometimes you can’t make a play as quickly being a left-handed right-hander, because you have to change angles,” explained Martin St-Louis. It takes your feet to get out of difficult situations. »
Besides Xhekaj, Cayden Primeau will be the only other player inserted into the lineup against the Ducks. The young goalkeeper has not gotten a start since January 18.