Montreal Canadiens: Corey Perry Fills Need That Derailed Habs Last Season

Jan 23, 2021; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Montreal Canadiens Corey Perry Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 23, 2021; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Montreal Canadiens Corey Perry Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports /

Montreal Canadiens right winger Corey Perry was not signed to a contract until just days before training camp began. The Habs were set to open their shortened camp on January 3rd, and announced the signing of Perry to a one-year contract on December 28th.

Last season, the Habs were off a really strong start. They beat the Washington Capitals in the middle of November and were 11-5-3 in their first 19 games. This had them on pace to finish well above 100 points and comfortably in the postseason.

The problem was, the team soon found out they didn’t have the depth to deal with a few injuries.

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Jonathan Drouin and Paul Byron were injured in that win over the Capitals and the medical ward just got busier. The Habs quickly lost eight games in a row and fell from a playoff favourite to a league afterthought in a hurry. Their second losing streak of eight games made them a laughingstock.

Clearly, the team needed more depth and that is exactly what they were hoping for when they signed Perry and Michael Frolik just before getting together at the Bell Centre for training camp.

It’s still early this season, but Perry is providing exactly what the Canadiens needed from him.

With Josh Anderson and Tyler Toffoli also added to the roster in the offseason, there wasn’t even a spot for Perry in the opening night lineup. He spent the first five games of the season on the taxi squad, practicing with the team but waiting for his chance to get in the lineup.

A questionable hit by Tyler Myers on Joel Armia would knock the Finnish right winger out of the lineup with a concussion and insert Perry into the action.

With Armia out, Perry stepped right into his spot on the third line with Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Tyler Toffoli. Though it was his first game with the Canadiens, Perry fit like a glove and looked like he had been playing with Kotkaniemi and Toffoli for years.

He played over 15 minutes of ice time, including some second power play time and was creating turnovers in the offensive zone, setting up teammates for great scoring chances and he scored the Habs second goal of the game to give them a 2-0 lead. Montreal would score an empty net goal late to win 5-2 and improve their record to 4-0-2.

Perry played his second game last night and once again was on the third line with Kotkaniemi and Toffoli. Once again, the third line was trusted to hop on the ice at any moment, allowing head coach Claude Julien the freedom to just roll his lines and not worry about finding hard matchups to try and shut down Johnny Gaudreau.

Perry was on the second wave of the power play once again and he made a tremendous backhand pass to Brendan Gallagher from the side of the net to set up the team’s first goal.

Perry isn’t the player he used to be when he led the league in goals and won the Hart Trophy in 2011, but he is a smart, physical, pain in the side for opponents. He is a veteran of over 1000 games who has scored nearly 800 points in his career.

Having him as the team’s 13th forward is a luxury the 2019-20 Canadiens just did not have. Once last year’s Habs had a few injuries, they just couldn’t win hockey games.

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This season, thanks to Corey Perry, Michael Frolik and Victor Mete, the Habs have capable NHL level players waiting in the wings to step into the lineup. A lack of depth was the downfall of last year’s team, but that will not be a problem this season.