Toronto Maple Leafs’ head coach Mike Babcock nicknamed him Man Mountain. He was voted by his peers the most difficult defenseman to play against. He is one of the best leaders in the entire NHL. He has the most feared shot in the league. His teammates call him “Dad”. David Schlemko was recently quoted saying that he’s “stupidly strong”. Young Jesperi Kotkaniemi said that he almost peed himself seeing his shot come at him on the powerplay. He is the team captain and, in spite of missing an entire year, he’s playing like an All-Star.
Shea Weber is… well, Shea Weber. With him back, the smallish Canadiens have all grown a couple of inches. Everyone is benefiting from his return and yes, even Jeff Petry who did extremely well in Weber’s absence, but whose ice time was ridiculously high. But what is the impact of Weber on the Habs exactly?
Weber returned to action on November 27th and prior to the game in Minnesota, he had played six (6) games. His personal results? Three (3) goals, two (2) assists, five (5) points. A differential of plus -5 with 24 shots on goal and 20 hits (3.3 hits per game, tops on the Habs). He has solidified the penalty kill units and has provided another weapon to an otherwise pretty anemic powerplay.
Beyond Weber’s stats
When you talk about Weber, players think leadership and while (some) fans may see that as overrated, people around hockey know the importance of having quality leadership. Habs’ players are no different. While this was a pretty solid and tight group to start with, Dad is back and it shows.
Since Weber’s return, the Canadiens have a 4-2-0 record. They have tightened their defensive play, allowing only 13 goals (2.17/GP) on 163 shots (27.1/GP). They have also scored 20 (3.33/GP) and fired 243 shots on goal (40.5/GP). Better defense, more offense, which usually means more wins than losses.
But none has benefited more of Weber’s return than goaltender Carey Price. Struggling with consistency since Man Mountain was shelved last season, we are starting to see the confident and dominant Price that we love in Montreal. In the last six games, Price has stopped 150 of the 163 shots in his direction for a respectable .920 Sv%. His goals’ against average during that time is 2.19.
Before the season started, I had predicted that if the Canadiens were in a playoffs’ race by the time Weber came back, they would be in the playoffs in the Spring. While this is still a young team with ups and downs, I still believe that unless catastrophe hits again, they will play hockey well into April. Go Habs Go!