Through two games, most of the Montreal Canadiens’ off-season acquisitions had acquitted themselves quite well in the lineup. Josh Anderson had two goals in his debut, Alexander Romanov looks like a budding star, and Jake Allen put forth an outstanding effort in his debut against the Oilers. However, going into the Monday night clash with Edmonton, the only question mark really was what there was to make of Joel Edmundson in the lineup.
His outing against Toronto was rough from a possession standpoint and to the eye test as well. He looked far more at home in the 5-1 blowout on Saturday over the Edmonton Oilers, but still lost the possession battle, which could be chalked up to score effects late in an uncompetitive game. Regardless, fans were hoping to see what Marc Bergevin had envisioned from the rugged defender, and Monday night finally gave them an answer.
In just shy of 20 minutes of ice time (fourth-most on the team), and with over six minutes on the penalty kill, Edmundson turned in a fantastic performance against the top line the Oilers had to offer. Against the trio of Connor McDavid, Zack Kassian, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmundson controlled 71% of the shots and allowed zero high-danger opportunities at five-on-five while playing over five minutes against that trio.
This is just one good game out of three, but with Edmundson improving each game to the point that he’s handling McDavid without much difficulty, it’s something that should be seen as a positive development. Being able to trust Edmundson and his partner Jeff Petry allows Claude Julien to ease some of the pressure off of Shea Weber and Ben Chiarot. The giant duo played almost exclusively against top lines last year, and being freed up by the second pairing would allow Weber to stay fresh, and able to utilize his offensive talents more freely.
It’s still early, and there’s still plenty more for him to prove as the season wears on, but Monday night showcased Joel Edmundson at his best for the Canadiens. If he can keep that steady play going, the Canadiens are going to make life extremely easy for their goalies this season, which can only mean good things.