Montreal Canadiens: Corey Perry Providing Exactly What Habs Hoped

Jun 2, 2021; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Montreal Canadiens Corey Perry Mandatory Credit: James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 2, 2021; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Montreal Canadiens Corey Perry Mandatory Credit: James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports /

Montreal Canadiens right winger Corey Perry was once a Hart Trophy winner as he was a dominant offensive player in the NHL. He played in the Olympics, he played at the World Cup, he was key to leading the Anaheim Ducks to the 2007 Stanley Cup.

Perry, like every athlete aside from Tom Brady, saw his production dip as he moved through his 30’s. He was bought out of his lucrative contract with the Ducks at the age of 34 after scoring just ten points in 31 games.

He played the 2019-20 season with the Dallas Stars and had a decent season, but picked up his game in the postseason and helped the Stars reach the Stanley Cup Final.

However, the veteran winger was forced to be patient when he was once again a free agent in the 2020 offseason. Finally, just days before training camp was to begin, the Canadiens signed Perry to a one year contract on December 28th. There were no guarantees of playing time, and it was hoped that Perry would provide veteran depth and leadership in the locker room.

Fast forward to the second round of the playoffs and Perry is doing far more than anyone could have anticipated when he signed a $750,000 contract for the year. I mean, Perry was placed on waivers and went unclaimed on January 11th, if anyone thought he’d be playing this well in the playoffs they could have taken him for nothing.

Instead, he remained with the Canadiens and had to earn his way as if he were an unproven rookie and not a former league MVP who played over 1000 NHL games in his career. Perry didn’t make his Canadiens debut until the 6th game of the season, but when he scored three points in his first four games, he cemented a role for himself for the rest of the year.

Now, with the Habs one win away from moving on to the Stanley Cup semifinals, Perry is playing his best hockey of the season.

The veteran has carved out a role with fellow big men Eric Staal and Joel Armia. They are technically the team’s fourth line, but they cycle the puck so well and spend so much time in the offensive zone, they’ve allowed all four lines to play pretty much the same amount of time at even strength.

Last night, Phillip Danault led the Habs forwards in ice time with 17:23 and Paul Byron played the least of all forwards at 13:07.

In Game 3 last night, it was that fourth line’s cycle and offensive pressure that led to the team’s first goal. Perry carried the puck into the Jets zone and got the attack time started. The puck was moved behind the net to Staal who made a pass out front to Armia for a scoring chance. The Canadiens maintained possession before getting the puck down low again, where Perry brought it to the front of the net and muscled it into the net to open the scoring.

It was Perry’s third goal of the playoffs which is just one behind Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Nick Suzuki and Joel Armia for the team lead. It was also Perry’s sixth point which has him tied for fourth on the team in scoring.

The Canadiens appeared to be all set at right wing when they added Tyler Toffoli and Josh Anderson last offseason to go with Brendan Gallagher and Joel Armia. Even with Cole Caufield in town now, Perry has carved out a role on the team.

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He might be considered a fourth line player, but this fourth line plays almost as much as the team’s first line. Corey Perry is a big reason for that and that depth is a big reason this team is one win away from moving on to the NHL’s final four.