Montreal Canadiens Noah Juulsen Looks Solid In Return From Lengthy Injury

LAVAL, QC - OCTOBER 30: Noah Juulsen (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
LAVAL, QC - OCTOBER 30: Noah Juulsen (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

The Montreal Canadiens have been dealing with injuries all season but no one in the organization has suffered more than Noah Juulsen. He finally returned to action for the Laval Rocket and played a solid game.

The Montreal Canadiens have been battling injuries more than most teams across the National Hockey League this season. One player that has suffered more than any other player in the organization has been Noah Juulsen.

The Canadiens first round pick in 2015 NHL Draft slowly, but steadily ascended through the ranks after being drafted. He stayed with the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League, before moving up to play in the American Hockey League and then earning a role with the Canadiens.

Juulsen is a big, steady two-way right defender who started last season with the big club. Shea Weber was out with injury and there were minutes up for grabs on the right side of the defence. Juulsen stepped into a second pairing role and looked good in taking on a big role at a young age.

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Then, he was hit in the face with two shots while playing the Washington Capitals in late November and it pretty much ruined his season. He returned to the Canadiens lineup about a month later but after four games was sent down to the Laval Rocket. He played just three more games before sitting out the rest of the season with migraines.

The 22 year old was at training camp for the Canadiens in September but quickly left after dealing with headaches once again. He played 12 games with the Rocket early in the season but again, left the team to deal with mysterious headaches.

After not playing since November 29th, Juulsen finally returned to action with the Laval Rocket last night. He couldn’t have picked a much more difficult AHL opponent as the Belleville Senators were in town and they are in first place in the North Division. Considering Juulsen has only played a handful of games in the past 15 months, he looked terrific.

Right off the opening face-off the Rocket jumped into the Belleville Senators zone and the puck came back to Juulsen as he pinched in on the right side. He fired a shot on goal that almost fooled Filip Gustavsson.

Juulsen was in the starting lineup and playing on the top pairing with Otto Leskinen. The pair played a regular shift throughout the first period and Juulsen seemed to be skating just fine and reading the play well, making smart, simple breakout passes and not letting the Senators get much started in the Rocket zone.

In the second period, Juulsen made a beautiful pass to set up a scoring chance. The puck was coming back to him at the point and he stepped up, winding up as if he were going to hammer a one-timer. Just as it looked like he was going to unleash on the puck he fired a dart of a pass across the ice to a wide open teammate who had a great scoring chance.

Shortly after that great play that led to a chance but was stopped by Gustavsson, Juulsen took a heavy hit along the boards in his own zone. He made a one-handed play on the puck but was hit right in the numbers by a forechecking Senator. He was fine after the hit and continued to play with a presence, which was good news for someone coming back from such a long time off.

Later in the second period, Juulsen kept the puck in at the line and got it down low to Joseph Blandisi. The Rocket moved the puck around down low before Laurent Dauphin fired a perfect pass out front to Jake Lucchini who scored to make it 2-0.

The Rocket, with a lot of help from Juulsen, shut down the high powered Senators lineup and held them to just 15 shots the entire game. Juulsen can’t get all the credit for that but he appeared to pick up right where he left off before all this missed time.

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Where Juulsen left off was on the right side of the Canadiens defence. There are just 11 games left in the Habs season so I don’t think Juulsen will get back there this season. However, this first game back was very encouraging. If his play continues like this, we could see Juulsen back on the Canadiens defence to start next season.