It asks a lot of a player to be able to step up and take over a role occupied by someone like Shea Weber. It’s asking even more of them to do it two years in a row. That’s what Jeff Petry has been doing for the Montreal Canadiens these past 18 months, and against the Flames we saw the full range of his ability.
Admittedly, it was not the cleanest of starts for Petry, with a pair of penalties and a few mistimed plays highlighting the opening 20 minutes. But it all clicked into place with an ill-advised penalty by T.J. Brodie.
A small shift in his shooting position on the power play, and Petry had his first goal of the year. He followed that up by almost immediately by drawing a penalty of his own on a rush to the net to put his team back on the man advantage.
On that power play, he threaded a picture-perfect pass to Brendan Gallagher to give his side a lead and grab his team-leading seventh assist. His offensive game continues to be an underrated asset for Montreal, even after a career season last year.
What’s more is that at five-on-five Petry wasn’t facing easy competition, and was starting just 20% of his shifts in the offensive zone against the Flames. In the 16 minutes at full strength that he played, almost 10 of them were matched up against Sean Monahan (9:48), and/or Johnny Gaudreau (8:18), in addition to a healthy dose of Matthew Tkachuk as well.
It’s not an easy task to face off against top talent like that, with a third new defensive partner in a week, but Petry did well to keep them quiet on the ice, posting fair possession numbers against both Monahan and Gaudreau.
It’s not easy to replace Shea Weber, but once again Jeff Petry is proving that he’s up to the task. When Weber does return, the Canadiens’ defence is likely to improve that much more this year.