The Montreal Canadiens have had better weeks. A bad loss to the New Jersey Devils, a hard-to-swallow overtime loss on Friday to the Buffalo Sabres, and a late game-winning goal against on Saturday highlight a bump in the road for a young team in need of help in key areas.
Enter a returning Shea Weber, who should rejoin the team for their game on Tuesday.
Montreal was always going to have a few issues this year. In fact, many thought this team would be lucky to tread water while Weber recovered from off-season surgery. Instead, this Canadiens team shocked a lot of people with a fast-paced, high-energy game, and currently occupy a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They’re doing it with an ever-shifting defensive alignment, including a handful of players playing well above their station. They’re staying competitive and earning points with a power play that has the ferocity of a limp noodle most nights, and now they’re getting back one of the fiercest shots in the league.
Weber’s return is coming at the absolute best time for this Canadiens team. With a more functional power play, Weber should start creating goals for an offence on the cusp of breaking out. Games where they’re getting close but failing to generate chances on the man advantage should start turning in the Canadiens’ favour.
Jeff Petry has played well as Montreal’s top defender, but Weber’s return also shifts some of that pressure off of his shoulders going forward. Logging 25+ minutes with regularity in all situations is hard on the best in the NHL, let alone with a rotating cast of partners. Adding Weber back into the mix reinforces Petry with another trustworthy option for Claude Julien. Being able to deploy steady defensive options on multiple pairings should help shore up the defensive miscues that have hurt the team.
Above all else, he’s a presence on the ice and in the locker room. While the team has played well with just their alternate captains, seeing the captain suit up should help spur the club to the next level.