Montreal Canadiens: Brett Kulak Quietly Excelling in Top Four Role On Habs Blue Line

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 03: Brett Kulak of the Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 03: Brett Kulak of the Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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Brett Kulak seems to be regaining the form he displayed in the 2018-19 season, excelling at both ends of the ice, and is doing so when it matters most.

The Canadiens’ left side of defence has been criticized and analyzed countless times since the start of the 2017-18 season, following the departure of Andrei Markov. However, this past season has featured a roller coaster ride of emotions among the Habs fanbase regarding the position.

The arrival of Ben Chiarot seemed to be a stroke of genius by Marc Bergevin as early as game 10 of the regular season when the Hamilton native began playing top-pairing minutes and holding his own while also proving to be a more potent offensive threat than had been anticipated upon his arrival.

While few people saw Chiarot as a legitimate top-pairing defender, he proved his worth as a capable stand-in until such a player does enter the fold. However, the Chiarot-Weber pairing that was absolutely dominant upon its creation has failed to maintain its high level of effectiveness, often being caught in its own zone and becoming less of a threat offensively.

Many point the finger toward their lack of speed as the biggest issue, and they may very well be correct. Neither player can be labelled as quick and in the modern NHL, a defensive pairing with two slower athletes can be exploited.

This has many fans, myself included, wanting to see the Mete-Weber pairing re-instated. This pairing is undoubtedly less offensively-minded than Chiarot-Weber, but it is quite clearly more competent defensively, despite the drop in physicality. Victor Mete is extremely effective in closing down passing lanes with his stick and can make up for mistakes by using his quick stride.