Montreal Canadiens Getting An Offensive Spark From The Blueline

The Montreal Canadiens came into the year expecting it to be a rebuilding year for the team, but they have found a way to keep themselves in the playoff race as they currently sit just five points back of a playoff spot. Yes, they have lost a lot of key names to injuries, including Kerby Dach and Alex Newhook, who are both out long-term, but this season, the Montreal Canadiens have been getting a ton of offensive production from their blueliners. Montreal so far this season, has gotten 26 goals from their blueliners after getting only 33 goals from their blueline last season. There are three players that have really stood out offensively this season in Montreal, and they are Mike Matheson, Justin Barron, and David Savard.

Mike Matheson

Mike Matheson was acquired by the Canadiens in July 2022 in the trade, which sent Jeff Petry to the Pittsburgh Penguins. In 81 games with Montreal, he’s put up 13 goals and 45 assists for 58 points, as he led the Canadiens defensive unit last year with eight goals and 26 assists for 34 points in just 48 games. Prior to the beginning of the season, the Canadiens announced that Matheson would be wearing an “A” that was left vacant when Joel Edmundson signed with the Washington Capitals. This season has been no different as he has five goals and 18 assists for 23 points, which is double the amount of the next closest blueliner, Justin Barron. Mattheson has also added 13 points on the PP this season. The 29-year-old forward has eaten up a lot of minutes for the Canadiens this year as he’s averaging 25:24, which is five minutes over what he’s averaged in his career, and has been solid on the top pairing for the Habs this season.

Justin Barron

The Montreal Canadiens are starting to embrace the youth movement, and they have a ton of young defencemen on the blueline and one of those defenceman who has really taken his opportunity this year and is running with it is Justin Barron. The 20-year-old defenceman was acquired by the Habs in the trade that sent Artturi Lehkonen to the Colorado Avalanche. Prior to being acquired by Montreal, Barron had played in two games with the Avs, but they had a crowded blueline, and a change of scenery has really paid off for the young defencemen. In 75 games with the Habs, he’s put up 11 goals and 17 assists for 28 points; Barron has six goals and five assists for 11 points. There’s no doubt the 25th overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft has shown that he can be an everyday defenceman for the Canadiens and has even been trusted enough by Head Coach Martin St. Louis that he’s seen time on the PP and scored the OT winner against the Winnipeg Jets and his younger brother Morgan Barron in a 3-2 victory on December 18th.

David Savard

The Montreal Canadiens have once again dealt with injuries all season, but one big name they have recently gotten back is David Savard. Every team needs a few veteran guys in their lineup, and in the 11 games Savard has played this season, he’s put up three goals and four assists for seven points. Savard is having a surprisingly good year offensively, seeing that he’s put up three goals in each of his first two seasons with Montreal and has already found the net twice this year despite being limited to only ten games. At 6’1, 225lbs, Savard is a guy who is going to provide some physicality on the blue line, which has helped Montreal with the absence of Arber Xhekaj, who is currently in Laval. If Montreal is going to be a team that is going to fight for a playoff spot, which surprisingly it looks like that’s where things are heading right now, they are going to need a guy like Savard, who has played in 57 Stanley Cup Playoff games and won the cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning back in 2021.

Head coach Martin St.Louis is going to have some tough choices to make as Jordan Harris is currently skating with the team and might be back with the team during their current seven-game road trip, which will wrap up on January 2nd in Dallas, but for a team like Montreal that has had bad luck with injuries in the past, it’s always good to have extra bodies that can produce readily available and will give St.Louis the option to give guys nights off when needed.

Armand Klisivitch

Inside The Rink ECHL Manager | Senior Editor Credentialed Reporter for the Adirondack Thunder & Worcester Railers.

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