Justin Barron’s name has been on everyone’s lips since Tuesday night following his nice goal, his first of his career, against the Ottawa Senators.
Posted at 12:38 p.m.
Barron, 20, recently secured with a 2024 second-round pick for Artturi Lehkonen, has shown great patience with the puck and impressive lateral mobility on the play. His shooting, one of its main weapons, was of rare precision.
We talked a little less about the other rookie in defense, Jordan Harris, despite his flawless performance. When we linger over the match with a more informed look, we realize that Harris, 21, had a much more delicate mission, without taking anything away from the good qualities of the other. Paired with veteran David Savard, Harris was almost always up against the Senators’ second line of Drake Batherson, Tim Stützle and Alex Formenton.
Martin St-Louis and his group of coaches, who held the right to the last change since the Canadiens were playing at home, sent the duo made up of Alexander Romanov and Joel Edmundson against the trio of Josh Norris, Brady Tkachuk and Mathieu Joseph.
Harris was playing only his second career professional game, but the maturity in his game, his great mobility and his intelligence ensured that the management of the team could already entrust him with such missions.
This duo didn’t end up on the ice for any of the Senators’ three goals in a numerical tie (excluding the empty-net goal). At some point in the game, Batherson, 6-foot-3, 204 pounds, tried to beat Harris, 5-foot-11, 185 pounds, one-on-one. The young CH defender drew him against the boards before annihilating the efforts of the Senators forward, 38 points, including 14 goals in 36 games this season.
The former captain of the Northeastern Huskies, drafted in the third round in 2018 by the Canadiens, did not miss many first passes. His speed allowed him to collect many loose pucks. He didn’t lose many battles for the disc down the ramp even to opponents he conceded a few inches to.
5-on-5 defender usage time on Tuesday
David Savard – 18:23
Jordan Harris – 17:56
Alexander Romanov – 17:41
Joel Edmundson – 16:23
Corey Schueneman – 15:04
Justin Barron – 3:00 p.m.
The pair of Barron and Corey Schueneman mostly faced the Senators’ third and fourth lines. They found themselves by force of circumstance against that of Stützle at some point in first and managed to save the furniture after a difficult presence chasing the puck in defensive territory.
Analyzing the work of Harris and Barron, a first-round pick, 25and in total, in 2020 by the Avalanche, also allows us to see how Romanov has reached another level of play despite being only 22 years old.
Romanov, a second-round pick from CH in 2018, only six months older than Harris, has now never played less than 20 minutes per game for a month, and against the best opposing elements. He’s not only tough, but very mobile, and he now allows himself more creativity, and patience, with the puck. He has played 23 minutes or more six times in the last eleven games, including a 27-minute game, without participating in the power play!
Patience with Barron
A reconstruction, coupled with an end of the season without any impact on the standings, has this wonderful thing for development: it allows young players to be kept in training according to their inexperience and their mistakes and thus inflate their confidence.
Barron wouldn’t have scored his first NHL goal on Wednesday amid a fight for a playoff berth. He would already be in the American League.
It’s often chaotic in defensive territory for the Canadian when he’s on the ice. But the 6-foot-2, 195-pound boy never skips a round and he’s getting better game after game. We felt he was more stable in terms of positioning on Tuesday with the return of coach Luke Richardson.
But the competition will be strong for him from the next training camp with the presence of Jordan Harris and the arrival of Kaiden Guhle. However, he shoots from the right, compared to the other two. The best is yet to come, we can say…
Kotkaniemi or Zadina?
Each match of the Canadian against the Ottawa Senators rekindles the debate on the draft of 2018. The detractors of Trevor Timmins do not fail to recall that the CH should have chosen the captain of the Senators, Brady Tkachuk, 4and picks overall, in place of Kotkaniemi, 3and pick overall and now with the Carolina Hurricanes. However, we forget too easily that the debate was different at the dawn of this repechage. A majority of Canadiens fans first claimed Filip Zadina, 82 points, including 44 goals, in 57 games with the Halifax Mooseheads.
Several observers still expressed doubts about the ceiling of Tkachuk, one of the oldest players of this vintage being born on September 16, and 31 points, including only 8 goals, in 40 games at Boston University. The Kotkaniemi/Tkachuk debate raged… after the fact. Tkachuk is heading into his career-best offensive season. He now has 52 points, including 24 goals, in 66 games, 64 points prorated for a full season. Zadina, drafted sixth overall, has 21 points in 67 games at Detroit. He had amassed 19 in 49 games the previous season. The fifth overall pick, Barrett Hayton, has 17 points in 48 games at Arizona. Kotkaniemi had 26 points in 63 games before being injured last week.
The choice of your columnist, announced a few weeks before the draft, defenseman Quinn Hughes, seventh overall, has strengthened his defensive game this season in Vancouver, while continuing his offensive domination, with 53 points in 66 games.