There are a lot of reasons for the Montreal Canadiens’ six-game winning streak. It has been a total team effort up and down the lineup, and they seem to have found a gear that was missing throughout the entire season.
Joel Armia, Corey Perry, and Eric Staal all had some struggles early in the series against the Toronto Maple Leafs and during the regular season. It made putting them together an interesting move, but it has worked out brilliantly.
All three players aren’t necessarily known for their speed, but they all think the game incredibly well, and they are all heavy players. It has allowed them to really build a cycle in the offensive zone, and they work similarly. They use their smarts to play the game at their level and there seems to be chemistry there as well.
“I love to play with those two guys,” Armia said after Game 3. “They’re really easy to play with. They’re really good with the puck in the corners and hanging on to the puck down low. It’s a lot of fun playing with those guys.”
Good teams need fourth lines to step up in the postseason. Corey Perry was brought in to perform in the post-season. In 27 games last season, he had five goals and four assists, In 10 games this year, he’s at three goals and three assists. He has scored big goals as well: the opening goal in Game 6, the winning goal in Game 7, and the opening goal in Game 3. He also had a huge assist on the first goal of the Jets series.
Eric Staal struggled to start his year with Montreal. After two goals and one assist in 21 regular season games, he has one goal and six assists in nine playoff games. At one point, it was hard to find a spot for him, and with Jake Evans’s injury, it’s hard to imagine a better player to centre the fourth line.
Joel Armia, with two shorthanded goals on Sunday, has provided the line with a perfect third piece. There is perhaps no better person for the cycle than him on the roster.
“I guess probably on the board they’re listed fourth but they’re definitely not a fourth line,” said Brendan Gallagher. “They’re playing big boy hockey. They’ve been able to put together long cycle shifts for us. They use their size to their advantage. Playoff hockey has brought out the best out of the three of them.”
The best part from the Canadiens perspective is that there’s nothing to hide from. Dominique Ducharme has been rolling four lines for the most part, providing the Canadiens with a true four-line approach and most teams are not able to counter.
Depth has always been the strength of the Canadiens, but getting key goals from this trio really hammers the point home. Putting the three players together have brought out the best out of all three, and it just happens to come when the rest of the Canadiens are also playing their best hockey of the year.