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Corey Perry’s skills are making him irreplaceable in the lineup

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Off the roster to start the year, it’s now hard to imagine the Canadiens without him.

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Winnipeg Jets James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

When Corey Perry signed a one-year contract with the Montreal Canadiens, expectations weren’t very high. He was originally signed as a depth piece, seeing the team as a possible contender, and thinking there was a good fit.

After starting the season on the taxi squad, he eventually found his way into, and out of the lineup. He has played in each of the last 12 games, and it’s easy to see why he has found a spot on this team. It’s not only his size, it’s not only his ability in front of the net, and it’s not only his stick skills with the puck. The combination of all three is what still makes him special despite having slowed down.

If you watch the assist he had on the game-tying goal, it’s something that the Canadiens have been lacking for years. They have had players who would have been able to see that pass available, but I’m not sure they would have had someone who would be able to execute that play.

The play actually happens before Perry touches the puck. You can see him notice Tyler Toffoli going behind the net. Perry knows where he’s going, and he doesn’t even have to look at him again and tip off the Winnipeg Jets defenders. He fakes the shot, and feathers the pass.

There were worries when Perry signed that should the Canadiens be relying on him too much, it means others are not doing their job. This version of Perry gives the Canadiens the best of both worlds. He doesn’t need much time to make plays. He doesn’t need to play in the team’s top-six — or even top-nine. But when you need a play on the power play, or with the goalie pulled, he’s one of the guys you want to have on the ice.

The Canadiens and Marc Bergevin have gotten great play from Josh Anderson, Toffoli, Jake Allen, and Joel Edmundson so far this season. But Perry has made a spot for himself on this team as well.

The ability to play up in the lineup when the team was chasing a goal was huge, and it wasn’t the first time he helped send a game into overtime this season.

In an ideal world, the Canadiens wouldn’t be chasing the game as often as they have had to lately, but when they do, it sure is a luxury for them to count on someone like Perry.