In the first workout before the first round of the qualifiers against Toronto Maple Leaves, Jespery Kotcanyemi and Cole Caufield wore a gray jersey, as did Michael Frolick.
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Not to mention a decision cast in stone, Kotkaniemi and Caufield did not inherit the right color of the jacket. When you’re skiing with Frolik, who has spent the majority of the season in Reservist Squad, that’s not a vote of confidence.
“My idea is not necessarily made, this is what Dominic Ducharme said upon leaving a training session of just over an hour. There will be another training tomorrow (Sunday) and we can try different things. We will take it one day at a time.”
Ducharme logically played a caution card. He did not fully confirm that Kotkaniemi and Caufield were excluded from the first match against Livese. But he provided evidence pointing to a large extent in this direction. The head coach on a temporary basis praised the importance of experience and landed roles for Eric Staal, Corey Perry and Joel Armia in one of two waves of power play.
A new beginning
At the dawn of the qualifiers, it is clear that CH intends to build on experience. At 36, Staal has played 1,293 season matches and 62 playoffs. He also has the Stanley Cup ring, which he won in 2006 with the Hurricanes. But at the moment, we are talking more about his past exploits than the present.
Acquired from Buffalo Sabers for Pick 3e And 5e In 2021, Stahl looks more like a downtrodden player than a good veteran since his debut in Montreal. In 23 matches, a player from Thunder Bay had only 3 points (2 goals, 1 pass).
In a video interview, Stahl spoke like a player who anticipates the opening playoffs in Central Perry and Josh Anderson.
“I’ve played in the qualifiers before, and I understand what you have to do,” Stahl said. “I have experience, but I have to play well on the ice to help the team win. I’m a piece of the puzzle. I’m happy to have this chance for the first game in Toronto.”
Stahl also hopes the qualifiers will give him a second wind.
He replied, “This is the case for everyone. Leave the zeros everywhere.” “It’s a new life, a new opportunity.”
If he had a message for Kotcanyami and Caufield, the past glory of “Cane” would ask them to be patient.
“When you play long enough and watch the qualifiers, you know you haven’t got 16 wins and are going through four laps in the same lineup. It doesn’t work like this. Plus, we’re coming out of a very difficult schedule, we’re going to need everyone. There will be injuries,” This will give others a chance. “
Only two players have made 56 appearances in CH this season: Nick Suzuki and Kotcanyemi. While Suzuki will play a major role against the foliage, Kotkaniemi will search to fight for his place.
Kotkaniemi, the third overall pick in the 2018 draft, wasn’t a shadow of himself late in the season. He has not scored in his last 24 matches, as he has scored four small assists in that period.
Stahl could not have been more brilliant, but his presence could be justified by the experience factor. An important feature in Ducharme’s eyes, perhaps that of Marc Bergevin, who has bagged six previous Stanley Cup winners in recent months.
“In the qualifiers, you have to deal with adversity through a game, and deal with specific situations and things that can tip the scales,” Ducharme explained. No cookbook, it’s not the same from one chain to the next. But the more experience you have, the more you will be able to recognize situations. You can remember the effect of each of your actions, you can define them and you will know better how to act. “
Scoring four goals and five points in his first 10 National Hockey League matches, Cofield once again received the kind words from his coach, but he also relied on patience in his case.
“We trust him, we are happy to adapt him,” said the 48-year-old coach. “He accepts what we bring and the things we work with. He has not been here for six months. We want to see him here for 15 years and become the player he can become.”
With his first two matches in Toronto, Ducharme will likely want to draw on experience before youths. But if a relapse occurs from the start, the plan can quickly go to the trash.