I honestly never thought that I would say this, but I like Ben Chiarot. He has done little but infuriate me over the last two years, taking ice time from players who I liked a lot more than him. But this year, I enjoy his game.
The Montreal Canadiens seem to be having a lot of trouble getting the offence going, particularly from their defencemen. But considering the fact that they are having an equal amount of trouble defending (particularly from their defencemen), it left me longing for someone to try something.
I wouldn’t mind if the offence was being sacrificed in favour of defence. It’s not my favourite style of hockey, but it can win games. I wouldn’t mind if the defence was sacrificed to score a bunch of goals. This year, however, it feels as though the offence has been sacrificed for the defence, which is also not very good, leaving me wondering why the team is doing it.
Thank goodness Chiarot is always trying to create. It often fails, but by golly it keeps these games interesting.
Last night, in all situations, Chiarot led the team in shots on net (tied with Jonathan Drouin), individual shot attempts, and time on ice, all while putting up a respectable 51.8% Corsi-for percentage. Ignore the fact that he had an abysmal expected-goals-for percentage and was on the ice for both Chicago goals and you’ve really got something.
With 16:18 left to play in the second period, he tried to walk down Main Street and let a one-timer go. The pass was intercepted and it turned into an odd-man rush coming back to the Montreal end. It was certainly headed for an unfortunate result had it not been for the heroics of Mike Hoffman who broke up the play.
Almost as often as his efforts end poorly, it also ends like this play.=:
Couldn't believe this sequence by Ben Chiarot. This led to almost a full minute of offensive zone time.— Dylan Waugh (Habs-statician) (@HStatician) December 10, 2021
Definitely inspired me to make him the subject of my next @HabsEOTP article#GoHabsGo pic.twitter.com/LUaYxlQ5eQ
Chiarot went completely rogue in the defensive zone chasing the puck-carrier and succeeded in forcing the turnover, after which he chased it the whole way down the ice and engaged in not one but two puck battles. That play led to almost a full minute of offensive-zone time for Montreal.
In years past when Montreal had a very rigid defensive-zone system, going rogue like this would drive me crazy (I can’t imagine how Claude Julien felt about it). But in a year like this, I’m just looking for anything to get me out of my seat.