Joining a team mid-season can be daunting task. You don't know the system, you are unfamiliar with your teammates, and you're generally nervous about making a good first impression. Given the circumstances, most players are granted a grace period upon their trade. In Jeff Petry's case, he didn't need it.
I was incredibly impressed by his poise, passing, and mobility last night, and if the one game is any indication, the Habs have landed a quality defender.
Of course, judging a player on one game is a bit naive. But in this case, it's worth noting that Jeff Petry finished the game with a positive Corsi For% (54), the only defenceman that did not produce a negative rating on the team. The Sharks flat out dominated the Canadiens, which gives you a good idea how well Petry performed despite being thrust into a tough situation.
Petry flew to San Jose in the afternoon, and joined his new team mid-practice, meaning he had little chance to absorb much instruction, given the time frame.
Despite this, Petry was criticized by an Oilers reporter, which is what led me to re-watch the game to get a better idea of how Petry actually performed.
Petry playing with Gilbert. Sharks win several battles, shot through crowd of not-knocked-down fwds goes in. Who'd have thought?— Mark Spector (@SportsnetSpec) March 3, 2015
From what I can gather, Mr.Spector is inferring that Petry is not a quality defender, due to the lack of interference during the Sharks goal. Or perhaps he's scoffing at the concept that Petry and Gilbert are a solid pairing.
With all due respect, I couldn't disagree more with this take. If you look at any play in a vacuum, you'll get a skewed perception of what went on. Spector fell victim to availability heuristic in a big way.
Let's take a look at what Petry brought to the table for the Habs yesterday.
First off, Petry has excellent positioning in the defensive zone. He showed it time and again last evening.
His passing is crisp. In fact, last night he ended up shattering PA Parenteau's stick with one of his passes.
He demonstrated smooth skating, and an penchant for staying cool under pressure.
If Petry keeps up his solid play, there's no doubt in my mind that the Marc Bergevin will do everything in his powers to secure his services for the next few years. He's not overly physical, but he makes a great first pass, is incredibly calm with the biscuit, and usually gets the puck away from his own net in a hurry. Yes, Petry was on the ice for a goal against last night, but if you're only paying attention to one play, you're definitely not going to get a clear view of the bigger picture.
Last night, Petry was clearly Montreal's best defender, and arguably the best player on the ice not named Carey Price.
It still remains to be seen if Petry can replicate his play as the season goes on, but it has to be said that it was a very successful debut for Marc Bergevin's prized deadline acquisition.