Corey Perry’s addition to the Montreal Canadiens was always going to be interesting. He clearly had some value left to share, but he didn’t really have a place in the lineup on opening night. However when Tyler Myers concussed Joel Armia at the end of Thursday’s game, it opened the door for the NHL vet to step into the lineup, and onto the team’s hottest line.
He went ahead and made the most of it, a great sign that even at 35 years old, Perry can still bring it on the ice in a decent-sized role.
In his 13:10 of five-on-five ice time (second on the team among forwards), Perry controlled just shy of 63% of the shots when he was on the ice. In his matchups, there were only two players he was below 50% against in terms of shot attempts: Nils Hoglander (42%) and Zack MacEwen (37%). Perhaps slightly more impressive is that against the big guns of J.T. Miller, Brock Boeser, and Elias Pettersson, Perry didn’t allow a single shot attempt against.
While he was on a line with Tyler Toffoli and Jesperi Kotkaniemi, who have been outstanding in the series against Vancouver, Perry was able hold his own even if he did spend time away from both during the game. To cap it all off, Perry even added his first goal in a Canadiens jersey, which, despite being ugly in nature, still counts all the same on the scoreboard.
It’s moments like this that you can see how well Perry still reads the game at the NHL level, his head is up the whole way, and he knows exactly where his linemate is. He had a handful of these moments as the game wore on, including a beautiful bit of dangling to create a scoring chance for himself.
Corey Perry plays hockey like he is 10 years old and out on the pond. pic.twitter.com/LisCcQdj65— Patrik Bexell (@Zeb_Habs) January 24, 2021
Perry’s speed and elite goal-scoring ability are long gone, but he provides more than that on the ice due to his hockey IQ. With Joel Armia out long-term, Montreal needs exactly this type of veteran to step up and play while giving them the best possible chance to win.
Marc Bergevin being able to secure a piece like Perry for nearly league minimum just in case the team needed some reinforcements is looking like another great bit of foresight. It’s been just one game, but it’s far more comforting to be adding a guy with over 1000 NHL games, than hoping a fringe AHL player can make an impact. With a deep Calgary team looming on the horizon, Montreal will be counting on more games like this one from Perry, and it seems like he’s got plenty left in the tank to oblige.