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Hockey News

The week in Numbers: Dach amazes, Beck breaks the ice


Welcome to The Week in Figures. Each week, I highlight three key stats that have defined training hits and misses over the past seven days.

Just double digits this week: Kirby Dach answers the call, and Owen Beck makes his debut.


Kirby Dach playing time since Cole Caufield injury

For the first half of the season, Cole Caufield was the most exciting player on the Canadiens’ roster. His ability to find the back of the net hasn’t been seen in Montreal for years. In his absence, Kirby Dach took over to wow the Bell Center crowd.

The former Blackhawks has taken his game to another level for the past few weeks. And with Caufield adding to the Habs’ long injury list, forcing the club to play with 11 forwards on multiple occasions, Martin St-Louis is asking more and more of Dach, and he’s answering the call.

Dach has played at least 21:34 in each of the four games since missing No. 22, culminating in 23:59 against Boston. He has reached at least 21:30 only once in the first 46 games, in a 2-1 shootout victory over Calgary, allowing overtime to inflate his tally.

This increase in playing time is obviously necessary to compensate for the gaps left by the injuries in the formation, but in the case of Dach, it is amply deserved. He’s been playing the best hockey of his career for a few weeks. A return to his natural center position has been beneficial for him. He’s also made leaps and bounds in the face-off circle. This has historically been one of his biggest weaknesses, with a career pass rate of just 35.6%. Since returning to center against the Islanders, Dach has won 50.7% of his faceoffs. He is finally taking advantage of his 6’4″ size to play physically, whether it’s dealing hits or attacking the net aggressively.

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When, at the start of the season, he could keep the puck too long while looking for a teammate to pass the puck to, he now does not hesitate to unhook if the opportunity arises. He remains a playmaker at heart, but by adding the shooting option to his arsenal, defenders need to respect him, when previously they could focus on blocking passing lines.

Dach has already surpassed his career highs for goals, assists and points in his first season in Bleu-Blanc-Rouge with more than 30 games to go. With his play of the last few weeks, it is clear that he is still far from his full potential. Alexander Romanov who?


Career game for Beck

After an emergency recall, Owen Beck surprisingly played his first career game Saturday night against the Senators. He is only the fourth player in the 2022 draft to play in the National League after Juraj Slafkovsky, Shane Wright, and David Jiricek, and the first who has not been selected in the top-6.

Of course, given the emergency status, the situation was far from ideal for an 18-year-old’s first game. A messed up team. Little time to practice and get familiar with teammates, the system, and the coaching staff. An opponent who, despite only being ranked 24th in goals, has an attack packed with talent.

Montreal was outshot 18-5 for 5-on-5 shots attempted when Beck was on the ice. On a more positive note, the majority of those shots were low-threat, with 14 of the 18 coming from the periphery. Beck also got a nice offensive push midway through the second period. He carried the puck himself through neutral territory before firing a shot from the top of the slot.

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For the moment, Montreal has decided not to use the five games of the emergency recall and has already sent Beck to the Peterborough Petes, who are currently 8th in the OHL. He will continue a junior season where he is one of the best defensive forwards in the league. He wins 58.4% of his faceoffs, one of the best rates in Ontario, and excels in his zone, in addition to having collected 44 points in 38 games. It’s still far too early for a definitive answer, but seems to have found a pearl in the second round.

Beck had had a very good training camp after being chosen 33rd by CH during the preseason. The fact that he is the one the organization has chosen for this emergency recall shows what the Canadian staff thinks of him. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him in the NHL soon, maybe even next year, which would be quite an achievement for a 2nd round selection.


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