Each time a player falls in combat, we hear that the opportunity is good for another to show off.

The most cynical will retort that this is especially true for the Canadian, where each player is a banana peel away from missing 40 games, but we would not condone such caustic remarks. Although that wouldn’t be wrong.

Since the start of this season, major injuries suffered by Kirby Dach, Rafaël Harvey-Pinard and Alex Newhook have created relatively predictable personnel movements that have allowed Juraj Slafkovsky and Jake Evans, among others, to gain ground. However, with the recent loss of Tanner Pearson, there is an obvious hole to fill on the third line. And this time, there is no obvious candidate to fill it.

Let us emphasize the epithet “obvious” here. Because there are obviously replacements. In training on Tuesday morning, Joel Armia was skating with Christian Dvorak and Brendan Gallagher. This unit was brought together Sunday night during the game against the Nashville Predators.

“I think he’s getting a lot closer to being an NHL player,” the coach said at camp.

Two months later, the use made of Ylönen does not look like a consecration. Left out seven times, he started 19 of the 21 games he played on the fourth line. The two others ? November 18, in Boston, in one of CH’s worst outings this season. And last Sunday, against the Predators. The conscientious reader will remember that we talked about Armia earlier: after two tasteless periods for Ylönen on the third line, we preferred the veteran.

St-Louis does not disavow its attacker however. “You see that he has offensive strengths,” he recalled Tuesday. In space, he has good speed, good touches. It’s a marker. »

This side of his game was evident recently when he scored two spectacular shootout goals. “I hate facing him on a breakaway in training,” testified Cayden Primeau, his teammate in recent years in Montreal and with the Laval Rocket.

“Did you see his hands? It’s crazy. He is unpredictable, he does a lot of things with his shoulders,” continued the goalkeeper who, usually reserved, supported his words with a clumsy imitation which made him smile.

“He remains a player who, without the puck, needs more details in his game, offensively and defensively,” summarized St-Louis.

The notion of details, heard more and more in the NHL, is sometimes overused. We will therefore refer to Nick Suzuki to explain it as simply as possible: knowing where to position yourself and what to do at any time.

“All five guys on the ice must know,” he said, without commenting on Ylönen’s specific situation. Martin believes a lot in that, in all the little things that can give us an advantage. »

The coach also said of Ylönen that he “needs to get inside more.” Translation: get more involved inside the faceoff spots. This isn’t specific to him, mind you, as that was the central theme of Tuesday’s practice.

“Not just with the puck,” St-Louis continued. You have to anticipate when we’re going to need you. You should also not go there too early and stay there. Dangerous teams anticipate well. They are capable of recovering pucks, too. We need to improve on this.

“Offensive players, with skills, they like to be on the outside with the puck. But the game is played without the puck. You have to go inside if you want to score goals. »

We instinctively think of Cole Caufield when hearing this remark. But also to Jesse Ylönen. The latter is, according to the MoneyPuck website, one of the Habs attackers who takes shots from the greatest distance.

Ylönen, for his part, explains soberly that, since the start of the season, he has mainly focused on refining his defensive game. “I don’t know if I’ve improved, but I’ve worked hard,” he says, recalling that he still has a lot of matches left to show off.

The position to be taken on the third line matters little to him. His priority remains “helping the team.”

“I’m not changing my mindset,” he said. I want to be in the right place to use my skills. I’m taking it one day at a time. My goal is to be a good player in this league. I believe I have all the tools to get there, but I don’t think I’ve achieved it yet.