Canadiens' Kaiden Guhle regrets slashing Flyers' Konecny from bench

“I was just trying to protect a teammate and it was just a heat of the moment thing,” Guhle says about move that earned him a suspension.

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Kaiden Guhle knows that players, especially those not on the ice, should not go around slashing opponents.

However, he argues, his actions last Thursday showed the bonds this season’s Canadiens team have forged.

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“I was just trying to protect a teammate and it was just a heat of the moment thing,” Guhle explained following Monday’s practice — and team photo — at the Bell Centre. “Looking back at it, it probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do. Obviously I didn’t want to get suspended. You just can’t do anything from the bench. You live and you learn. I’ve learned my lesson.”

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Guhle, 22, was suspended for one game without pay after slashing Philadelphia forward Travis Konecny late in the second period of the 4-1 Canadiens’ victory.

The 6-foot-3, 201-pound Guhle, reacted to an earlier play during which Konecny was engaged with Montreal forward Juraj Slafkovsky. Konecny hit Slafkovsky in front of the Flyers bench. As the Philadelphia right-winger skated in front of the Canadiens bench, Guhle hit him in the stomach with his stick.

Guhle wasn’t penalized on the play, but he forfeited nearly US$4,500 in salary and missed Saturday’s game against Carolina. The former first-round (16th overall) Canadiens’ draft choice in 2020 should return Tuesday night (7 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN Radio-690, 98.5 FM), when Montreal entertains the Florida Panthers. Guhle has been teamed with Mike Matheson of late.

The Panthers played at Toronto on Monday night.

“I wasn’t trying to injure him,” Guhle said. “I was more just trying to steer him away from (Slafkovsky). It was just a heat of the moment thing. He (Slafkovsky) is the youngest guy on our team, first overall pick (in 2023). I just wanted him to leave him alone. That’s all it was. Obviously you don’t want to miss any games. One game seemed good to them.

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“That game in general, there was a lot of passion. It got a little chippy there and everyone was standing up for each other and was taking care of each other. That’s a huge plus. We know coming in what their style of play (is). The team they have, they’re going to play like that. It’s huge for our group when you see us respond like that — not in the way I did — but in other ways. We were standing up for each other in scrums … doing whatever we could to stick together. It’s huge to see.”

Given his size, not to mention his 56 penalty minutes this season, Guhle has an edge to his play and is expected to be a physical presence along the blue line. But he also has some offensive tools, having scored six goals and 21 points in 68 games. He played junior in the WHL, arguably the toughest of the three junior leagues, for Prince Albert and Edmonton, although Guhle never was assessed more than 56 penalty minutes in a season.

“You have to be physical; that’s a big part of the game,” he admitted. “In junior, there are times you can kind of run around a bit and get away with it. Here, you can’t do that. You definitely have to be more calculated with when you’re going to do that kind of stuff. But it’s definitely still something I like to have as part of my game for sure.”

Notes: Goaltender Cayden Primeau was the winner of the Molson Cup for the month of March. In five starts, the 24-year-old went 3-1-1 with a 1.97 average, .939 save percentage and one shutout. Head coach Martin St. Louis didn’t announce his starter against the Panthers. … Centre Christian Dvorak was on the ice for practice and wore a full-contact sweater. Dvorak was expected to miss the rest of the season following January surgery for a torn pectoral muscle but has now been upgraded to day-to-day. St. Louis said there’s a “good chance” he’ll play this season. … Forward Kirby Dach also was on the ice but his return is unlikely after he sustained tears to both the ACL and MCL in his right knee in the second game of the season, Oct. 14, against Chicago.

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