One thing can be said about the Montreal Canadiens… this hockey season for them and their fans has certainly not been dull aside from some scoring woes. Two good constants, especially lately, have been Jeff Petry and Carey Price. Yes, this is not a joke. Price is one main reason why Montreal has bounced back over their last six or seven games.
But first, there’s a little more Jeff Petry on the docket.
Jeff Petry Drives The Defense and Offense Also
Again, there is chatter with Petry on his candidacy for the Norris Trophy. That gets awarded to the league’s best defenseman. Some of the numbers are eye-popping. Petry scored 11 times (hit two posts Monday) and added 14 helpers for 25 points in 28 games. However, the defensive side of the equation is something else. Besides, possession being a good defense, Petry has only been deployed right about half the time for Montreal. He is not being sheltered as much as one would expect.
⭐️ Jeff Petry ⭐️
Is having a season! but the reality is, he had a great season last year (left side)
The big difference? Added skill to the lineup. His linemates are scoring at a 10% SH rate… whereas last season it was 6.7% (in the bottom 1/4 of the NHL).#GoHabsGo https://t.co/EoByeWtRI8 pic.twitter.com/60Cut6gnl9
— Jason Paul 🥥 (@WaveIntel) March 16, 2021
This explains it all. Most forgot how good Petry was even last year. Yes, there are some gaudy numbers that are likely unsustainable. For example, the Montreal defenseman is not going to keep shooting at 15.7%. On the other hand, that percentage may not have time to regress that much.
There is simply one constant to the Montreal defense…
#GoHabsGo D-pairing performance relative to the NHL.
This season —————–Last Season
— Jason Paul 🥥 (@WaveIntel) March 16, 2021
Again, this is important and also a quandary for Dominique Ducharme. Who do you pair Petry with and then hope the other four defensemen hold up somewhat at even strength? For now, that appears to be the plan. Petry shows the ability to play with anyone and has sustained that part of his game for the better part of two seasons.
It looks to be up to Marc Bergevin to find another defenseman at the trade deadline. The idea is to find someone that he can defensively anchor one of his other pairings. That would take the stress off the team defense and the goaltending. The question becomes will Bergevin be willing to spend to acquire what is needed?
For now, Jeff Petry carries the load and that has been some heavy lifting for the Montreal Canadiens.
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Then there is the return of Carey Price?
Again it is early but maybe the goaltender coaching change jolted something? Whatever happened has helped Carey Price. His last six decisions have seen a dramatic change in fortunes.
— Joshua Henry (@joshuakhenry) March 16, 2021
That translates to a 4-1-1 record with a goals-against-average under 2 and a save percentage of .950. With that bump, the Montreal goaltender is now up to a 9-5-4 record on the season. His numbers have again risen to above league average — 2.59 GAA, .909 save percentage.
This six-game run boosted Price’s even-strength save percentage up to .925. Now, there are still some concerns. Price on the penalty kill still has not been that last line of defense he needs to be. His overall .816 save percentage is well below his average of .873. The League average is around .870 by the way.
Yes, Price can be amazing even under higher shot volumes but right now, Montreal is minimizing shots getting to the goaltender. The last four starts have illustrated this fact. At times, Carey Price will have to steal more games but the more Montreal can keep his workload manageable, the better off Montreal is.
By the way, Price never really left. He just had a stretch that left all of us wondering what was going on. Now, we may never really know but what we see now is a much-improved Price. Montreal needs this Price if they have any chance of making the playoffs and going on a run in the playoffs. Truly, it has to be Price, Petry, and then everything nice.