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Mike Matheson Will Play A Crucial Role on Defence

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Montreal Canadiens defenceman Mike Matheson

MONTREAL — When Mike Matheson met with the media today he mentioned he was excited to play a more significant role with the Montreal Canadiens compared to his usage with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“There are a lot of people coming into this camp that are looking to play a bigger role,” said Matheson. “And I’m definitely one of them, so it’s important to step up.”

Matheson was playing the humility card in front of the media, because, as it stands, he’s the only Montreal Canadiens defenceman that made a significant positive impact on his team last season. To add to the delicate situation on defence, Matheson put together those numbers on a much better club than his new teammates.

That’s not to say he must be the saviour of the Canadiens’ blue line, but he will be counted upon in almost every situation, and there’s no doubt his role will grow beyond the 18 minutes per night he played in Pittsburgh, seeing as he’s slated to replace Jeff Petry, who was regularly given 22 minutes or more per game.

And there are very good odds he will be facing the opposition’s best players, yet another challenge for the Point-Claire native.

Oh, and he’ll have to do so without the help of alternate captain Joel Edmundson, who reported to camp with an lower-body injury that will keep him out of the lineup indefinitely.

It’s safe to say that Matheson will be counted upon as the most important defenceman on the ice, but his duties will extend far beyond the defensive zone.

Matheson will also be charged with being a mentor for the many young defencemen hoping to earn a job with the Canadiens.

“It’s important for me to just talk to the younger players, to help them if need be. If there’s anything that I can do, I will,” said Matheson.

To his credit, Matheson spun the potential disaster on the blueline as a positive situation that will lead to further potential growth, seeing as Kaiden Guhle, Justin Barron, Jordan Harris and Mattias Norlinder will most likely receive an opportunity to play in the NHL this season.

“They’re great players, and I think there’s a lot of competition, which is great,” he said. “That internal competition is so important on a team, to be sure that everyone is pushing every day, and making sure they’re taking advantage of every practice and every game.”

There will be competition. There will be more ice time available. And surely, there will be struggles as the new defensive group attempts to form an identity this season.

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