The Montreal Canadiens have been stuck in neutral as of late, not playing badly by any means, but failing to generate results in the standings. Going 0-3-2 in their last five games, Montreal needed to find a way to break through this final obstacle, and put a number in the win column.
Instead of working around it, Shea Weber just decided to blast a hole right through the roadblock en route to a 5-2 win. The captain was a driving force for his team, but he wasn’t the only newly returned player making his presence felt against New York. Paul Byron’s impact cannot be understated, as he was directly responsible for not only the game-winning goal, but the insurance goal right after that as well.
Artturi Lehkonen grabbed the game-winner, but it came courtesy of smart play by Byron in his own end of the ice. Jordie Benn shoveled the puck up the boards, and Byron read the play well, allowing him to flick a backhand pass up the ice to Lehkonen, who had no issue burying the shot.
Not long after that, Byron’s relentless forecheck forced Neal Pionk into an awful turnover, and Lehkonen again jumped all over the puck and buried the fourth Montreal goal of the game.
Weber makes his presence felt with heavy physical play, and a destructive, heavy shot. His contributions are loud, and grab the attention of everyone immediately. Yet the quieter plays from Byron also helped contribute to a lopsided Canadiens’ win. Weber’s return is massive for the team, but a healthy Paul Byron makes a big difference as well.
Claude Julien’s proverbial Swiss Army knife provides stability all over the lineup whenever he’s called upon. Penalty kill, power play, first line, or fourth line, it doesn’t matter, because Byron is going to make the most of it, usually at the expense of an opponent.
Adding both back into the lineup at a time when the Canadiens needed that little extra push is already paying off. The team dominated Carolina, but failed to have that little bit of luck, then they go out and do the same to New York. This team is primed to make a charge up the standings if they continue this form, and it’s hard to think that they won’t with health on their side once again.