Canadiens numbers game not working in favor of Kotkaniemi – fr

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Canadiens numbers game not working in favor of Kotkaniemi – fr


Mired in a crisis, the Finn was not part of the conversation when coach Dominique Ducharme looked at the lines he hopes to see in the playoffs.

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Jesperi Kotkaniemi will likely be a healthy scratch when the playoffs start next Wednesday.

Kotkaniemi, who was the third overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, hit rock bottom Monday while on the ice for a 9:13 season low in the 4-3 overtime loss to Edmonton . He started the night on a quality line with Tomas Tatar and Josh Anderson, but was used sparingly in the third period as the Canadiens tied the game and held on to force overtime for a playoff spot. playoffs.

In a video conference with media on Tuesday, Kotkaniemi said he was “excited” to go to the playoffs and confident in his game although nothing in his recent performance justifies that confidence. Kotkaniemi has not scored a point in 11 games and has only had one assist in the last 18 games.

Interim head coach Dominique Ducharme also expressed his confidence the 20-year-old Finn would rebound and play well on Wednesday when the Canadiens conclude the regular season with a game against the Oilers at the Bell Center. (17 h 00, TSN2, RDS, Radio TSN 690, 98,5 FM).

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But Kotkaniemi was not part of the conversation when Ducharme looked at the lines he hopes to see in the playoffs.

“There are certain combinations that we already know,” said Ducharme. “We know there is a lot of chemistry between Phillip Danault, Brendan Gallagher and Tomas Tatar. We expect them to play together. In general, I like what Nick Suzuki and Tyler Toffoli can do together. It remains to be seen who will play on the right side. Joël Armia did well, but it was a little harder last night. The lineage of Jake Evans, Paul Byron and Artturi Lehkonen was excellent. We are relying on these combinations and will make more decisions over time.

If you keep track at home, that means Kotkaniemi is competing with Anderson, Corey Perry, Eric Staal and rookie Cole Caufield for one of the three spots available.

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Over the past few weeks there has been a debate over whether the Canadiens have accelerated the development of Kotkaniemi and Ducharme has weighed in on the right way to deal with youngsters like Kotkaniemi, Suzuki and struggling defenseman Alexander Romanov. lately.

“At any point with a young player you can say that we hope to put him in this situation and that he will learn from it, but you still have to think that it is the right thing to do,” said Ducharme. “Sometimes giving a player less is not something that will make them regress; sometimes giving it more will make it regress even more.

“Each case is different,” said Ducharme. “Obviously you come into the playoffs and you have a chance to win the Stanley Cup and you’re going to put the best lineup you can on the ice. I don’t care if the guy is 18 or 40. Right now, is that what he can do to improve the situation? “

Goalkeeper Carey Price has had his first full training since suffering a concussion on April 19, but will not be in the roster on Wednesday. Anderson, Staal and goalkeeper Jake Allen all took days of therapy on Tuesday.

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