Kaiden Guhle MTL feature

EDMONTON -- Kaiden Guhle said he is learning to deal with the ups and downs of playing in the NHL.

The Montreal Canadiens defenseman scored his first goal in 18 games Tuesday after figuring out a way to overcome one of those downs.

The 22-year-old was in need of a Bauer stick after he broke his only one during a loss at the Calgary Flames on Saturday. Luckily, on Tuesday he was back in Edmonton, where he played for the Oil Kings in the Western Hockey League. The Oil Kings and Oilers share Rogers Place, so he found Oil Kings equipment manager Rogan Dean.

“I recently started using those Bauer sticks and it’s one of [teammate Juraj Slafkovsky’s] old samples from early on in the year and there is only one and I broke it in Calgary,” Guhle said after the 3-2 overtime loss to the Oilers. “I went to ‘Rogs’ this morning and I asked him if he had any extra Bauers laying around. I tried some when I was playing here and it was the same stick that I tried a couple of years ago.

“That one definitely goes to him.”

That one was a game-tying goal at 4:43 of the third period that helped Montreal get the game to overtime.

“Same one that I used a couple of years ago,” Guhle said. “Kind of funny how that all worked out.”

MTL@EDM: Guhle scores goal against Calvin Pickard

It’s working out nicely for Guhle and the Canadiens, who selected him with the No. 16 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.

He has 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) in 64 games this season. He is playing on Montreal’s top defensive pairing with Mike Matheson and is on the penalty-killing unit. Guhle played 23:50 against the Oilers, second only to Matheson (28:05) and finished with an even rating. He is third on Montreal in overall time on ice per game (21:02).

On Tuesday, he was back in the arena where he won a WHL championship in 2022 and played in the Memorial Cup that season after being acquired in a trade from Prince Albert.

“It’s nice to be back, obviously. I look at the (WHL Championship) banner and it kind of brings back old memories,” Guhle said after practice Monday. “I saw that new (Rogers Place) mural in the concourse there and it was kind of cool to see me and a couple of guys up there. There’s a lot of memories and I saw some of the Oil Kings staff (Monday). It feels like home, so it’s nice to be back for sure.”

Guhle is considered to be a big part of the Canadiens’ future. Montreal (25-31-12) is seventh in the Atlantic Division, 14 points behind the Detroit Red Wings for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. He has 34 points (nine goals, 25 assists) in 108 NHL games over the past two seasons.

“There are ups and downs,” Guhle said. “There are times where you feel things are going really well and you’re feeling good, but it’s the NHL, it’s the best league in the world and there’s downs. There are times when maybe things aren’t going your way, and you have to deal with that. For myself, I’m just learning to deal with that a little better, but I see a lot of progress in my defensive game and it’s something I’ve always taken pride in, is defending well.

“Last year, there were a lot of little details you have to learn, all these players are so skilled, and all your details have to be there on point every night, or they can make you look silly. Learning that and the pro side of the game is huge and I’m still learning that.”

BOS@MTL: Guhle blasts in game-winning goal in OT

As part of a young roster, Guhle is getting plenty of opportunity with Montreal, which has missed the playoffs the past two seasons after going to the Stanley Cup Final in 2021, losing in five games to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the best-of-7 series. Montreal is going through a rebuilding phase.

“I thought Guhle was very good tonight,” said Canadiens assistant Trevor Letowski, who is coaching Montreal while head coach Martin St. Louis is away for personal reasons. “It’s probably an exciting game with all the history he has in this building and in this city, and he answered the bell tonight. He was sharp from the start, his compete level was through the roof and obviously, scores a big goal for us as well, so that’s a big night for a young player.”

Guhle has been a quick study for the Canadiens. He scored against Edmonton by jumping into the rush and taking a pass from Jake Evans at the Oilers blue line. Guhle then snapped a shot from the left face-off circle past Oilers goalie Calvin Pickard.

“That was cool. When he scored you saw the big smile and he was yelling, we were so happy for him, he had a ton of people here too,” Evans said. “He’s not known for scoring a ton of goals but he’s such a great defenseman in the [defensive] zone and is getting matched up against the top guys every night, so we’re really happy for him scoring here.”