Martin St-Louis said it a few times during training camp: “Not everyone is going to play on the big offense. We'll have to find guys to play shorthanded.”
Wednesday night, as part of the season opener against the Maple Leafs, the “guy” in question was named Evgenii Dadonov. During the 6 min 46 s during which the Canadian had to defend himself short of a man, the Russian spent 2 min 49 s on the playing surface.
Among the attackers of the team, Christian Dvorak was the only one to be busier in this aspect of the game (4 mins). What is special is that it is almost as much as in his 413 other games combined (3 mins 30s).
“Dadonov is a pro. I didn't have to sit with him and tell him please. He's a very intelligent hockey player,” said the head coach of the Canadiens.
“He's been playing hockey for a long time and even if he wasn't playing outnumbered, he could watch from the bench and learn, he added. When you play on the power play, you are able to understand shorthanded play. It's like reverse engineering.”
It must be said that Dadonov had had a few preparatory matches to get used to the idea and assimilate the different concepts. In Gander and Bouctouche, he had stepped on the ice in this situation on several occasions.
“It takes a little time, but usually the players are in meetings to see how the teams are playing in advantage digital. It's part of the job.”
Understanding the concepts and applying them is sometimes two things. But, we can believe that, at 33, the transition is done more quickly. Nevertheless, the man who scored 31 of his 124 power play goals, admits that some adjustments had to be made.
“It's probably the control of space in the neutral zone that requires the more adaptation. And I have to skate backwards more often,” said Dadonov tongue-in-cheek.
The one the Canadian acquired from the Vegas Golden Knights in return for Shea Weber's contract isn't too bad appeared for the first time in a real game. He and his teammates kept the Maple Leafs' big offensive machine quiet, even limiting their number of shots to four.
Which bodes well, according to David Savard, the Canadiens' defensive general.
“It's one of the most dangerous massive attacks in the league. They weren't given much, Savard said. Dadonov is smart. The more rehearsals we have, the better readings we will have to put pressure on at the right time,” he said.
Katrine Johns has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Gal Post, Katrine Johns worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my firstname.lastname@example.org 1-800-268-7128