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Taking a closer look at Noah Juulsen’s playing time

Juulsen had a steady partner in his adjustment to the NHL

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Boston Bruins Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

When Noah Juulsen came up to the Montreal Canadiens, there was no doubt who his main partner on defence was.

Claude Julien put the rookie with Karl Alzner, and the two were each other’s primary partners for the remainder of the season. The two played just over 327 minutes at even strength together over Juulsen’s 23 games in the NHL. To put it in perspective, Alzner only played 50:07 in the same situation with Shea Weber over 26 games.

The 327 minutes with Alzner represented over 73% of Juulsen’s NHL time. If you factor in the 45 minutes they played short-handed, it increases to 83.5%. It was a clear decision from the Canadiens coach to give his rookie some consistency.

Noah Juulsen ice time

Partner Ice Time (all situations) %
Partner Ice Time (all situations) %
Karl Alzner 372:53 83.5
Mike Reilly 29:14 6.5
Jordie Benn 18:32 4.1
Jeff Petry 9:39 2.2
David Schlemko 5:04 1.1

Because there was so little of Juulsen’s ice-time away from Alzner, we could get a better look at his season by looking at his effect on Alzner’s game.

Alzner played just over 322 minutes of even strength hockey away from Juulsen and Jeff Petry (I took Petry out because everybody played better with Petry). In that time, the Canadiens had 49.25% of shot attempts on net, and 51.49% of high danger scoring chances.

With Juulsen, those numbers go to 47.28% of shot attempts and 45.8% of high danger chances. The numbers definitely went down, but you also need to consider that the Canadiens with Juulsen from games 60-82 were not the same Canadiens that played through games 1-59.

And considering it was Juulsen’s first NHL stint in his first professional season, with only one NHL pre-season game and a late start due to a broken foot, the fact the numbers didn’t drop more are encouraging.

Going forward

It’s hard to read anything from the Canadiens alignment late in the season. There were so many moving parts and injuries, it would make the task impossible. However, we did get a small, four game, glimpse at how Claude Julien would use both Victor Mete and Noah Juulsen.

While Alzner played with Juulsen, Mete played with Jeff Petry and the two had success. You also have to factor in the return of Shea Weber. With Weber and Petry on the right side, you have room for one more player, and it’s hard to argue that Juulsen shouldn’t be that third guy.

On the left side, you have Alzner, who isn’t going anywhere. You also have Victor Mete who should be at the NHL level as well, but this year is allowed to play in Laval and like Juulsen will not require waivers. But if you assume that Mete and Juulsen are good enough to stick, it leaves room for one more player.

With an Alzner-Juulsen third pairing, you have a duo that should only improve as the year goes on, which is all you can ask for. With both Weber and Petry in the lineup, they also likely won’t be asked to play upwards of 17-20 minutes per game.

Of course, the Canadiens have a whole summer and will have two new coaches - including one focusing on defence - to bring ideas and re-think things. But they could do a lot worse than opening camp with that pairing together with the current roster they have.

All statistics courtesy Natural Stat Trick