Updated: Jan 22, 2021
So, we keep hearing how the Canadiens have a big, physical defense. It'll get pretty rough around the crease, and Carey Price, for one, seemed quite happy about his impenetrable Fort Knox defense when talking with media earlier this week. Apparently, all these guys can skate too (so say the other 30 teams about their group of players).
Now granted having a massive fortress in front of your goaltender is important. And I'll agree that Petry, Chiarot and Kulak are all reasonably fleet of foot. But outside of Petry, are they adept at moving the puck, at transitioning from D to O? Alex Romanov may be a potential stud on the blueline (buyer beware the Canadiens and local media have a long history of overhyping their prospects), but there is nothing indicating that he will be a solid puck-moving D-man (although one should take his meagre point production in the KHL with a grain of salt given the limited minutes he was provided with)
I’m a firm believer that physicality on D will pay off, particularly when you are playing back-to-back (to back) games this year. It will obviously deter opposing forwards from crashing the net (something we sadly saw all too often these past few years in Montreal). But again, isn’t mobility, puck-moving skills an area of concern when one looks at this defensive corps? One of the issues the Canadiens have had over the last few years is on the Power Play (post Markov) and not having a defenseman with the ability to both bring the puck into the other team’s zone and with the elite passing skills to distribute the puck once the team is set up in the opposing zone. This clearly has not been addressed in the offseason.
Frankly, when one looks at the type of defensemen the Canadiens have drafted of late under the Bergevin regime, we see a similar trend: big, physical and/or defensive-oriented defensemen: Juulsen, Guehle, Struble, Harris, Romanov (to name a few). It feels like the Canadiens are bucking the trend which is clearly to build around slick, puck-moving d-men. Again, variety is the spice of life and you need different types of players on every team. I get that. But who will be the real quarter back the transition guy on the Canadiens’ back end?
One simply cannot help but wonder if Bergie himself is not trying to build a defensive corps in his own image while neglecting the need for some offensive-oriented d-men like say Zarley Zalapski (pulled that one just to make a point, as Zarley and Bergevin were teammates back in the early 90s)? After all, you know what they say: birds of a feather do tend to flock together.