Jeff Petry continues to be a superbly effective piece in the Montreal Canadiens’ transition game. Thursday night, against the Vancouver Canucks, he displayed almost every play in the book of a solid puck-moving defenceman in today’s NHL:
- Wheeling the puck out of the zone, hanging the forecheck on the net as he accelerates behind it;
- Finding his forwards in the middle of the ice through quick, and sometimes difficult, passing plays;
- Creatively using his skates to move the puck when his stick was tied up by the opposition;
- Tying up his own man in a one-on-one battle, letting a nearby teammate take possession when he couldn’t make a play himself;
- Supporting his pressured winger on the boards by accelerating out of the zone through the middle of the ice to become an immediate pass option;
- Joining the rush as a fourth attacker, controlling his speed, trailing the play to arrive deceptively for a shot on net, and;
- Creating speed above the puck to help his offence gain the zone after a failed attempt on a neutral zone regroup.
It wasn’t a perfect night for the defenceman, but his confidence was there. He seems to never have felt rushed, played the game smoothly, and prepared his plays the right way; giving good example after good example of how to fuel a team’s offence from the back end.
It’s what we have come to expect from Jeff Petry, who is on pace for a career year, not only point-wise, but also in his ability to use his many skills to continuously affect the play in a positive manner. He is evolving into a consistent, calm force, and even more so now that he sits in the right chair behind Shea Weber.