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Montreal Canadiens

Canadiens Michael Pezzetta Thriving In Second Half Of Season



Canadiens forward michael pezzetta

Montreal Canadiens forward Michael Pezzetta has found a near gear.

Fresh off a shootout goal that clinched a win over the Buffalo Sabres, not to mention his Tiger Williams homage during the celebration, Pezzetta is doing much more than just plugging a hole on the fourth line.

The Toronto native has produced decent relative on-ice numbers in the second half of the season and is currently helping his team control expected goals, rather than allowing them.

That alone is a healthy sign, especially for a player receiving minimal minutes alongside a lower-quality of teammate, however, it’s his production that has stood out since Jan.1.

Scoring Rates

Pezzetta was struggling to score in the first half of the schedule. Sporadic usage didn’t help, but the fact remains he scored 0.78 points per 60 at 5v5, good for 12th overall among forwards.

But once players like Rafael Harvey-Pinard and Alex Belzile joined the team, Pezzetta seemed to let loose. He started attempting more difficult plays and most importantly, found himself spending much more time in the offensive zone.

Consequently, his scoring rate shot up significantly.

Since Jan.1, Pezzetta has scored four goals and six assists, with all ten of his points coming at 5v5.

While his raw numbers are relatively impressive, especially when you consider he scored the same amount of goals as Canadiens forward Kirby Dach while being given roughly the same amount of ice time.

But if we focus on the ice time element of the equation, which certainly limits Pezzetta’s opportunities, we can make the comparison a little more even by filtering the results by points per 60.

Pezzetta, 25, has produced 1.91 points per 60 in the new year, which is slightly behind players like Harvey-Pinard (1.92 P.60) and Nick Suzuki (1.99 P/60). It’s also better than what we’ve seen from Josh Anderson (1.89 P/60) and Denis Gurianov (1.79 P/60).

What’s more, Pezzetta is yet to register a secondary assist at 5v5, meaning that not only is he not padding his stats, but he’s been one of the main playmakers on the team in recent months.

Only Jake Evans (2.34 First A/60) and Jonathan Drouin (1.15 First A/60) have generated more primary assists than Pezzetta (1.14 First A/60).

Work Rate

One thing worth noting in Pezzetta’s recent uptick in production is that he’s taking advantage of the opportunities presented to him.

And for Pezzetta, those opportunities have been few and far between in his professional hockey career. With six goals in the 2022-23 NHL season, Pezzetta tied his best career output, which was set back in 2018-19 when he was a rookie with the Laval Rocket.

Unlike most young players that followed the directives set out by the coaching staff to a tee, Pezzetta’s opportunities started becoming more scarce.

Despite being told he’d earned more chances to prove his worth if he remained dedicated to a team-first approach, Pezzetta went from 58 games played in his rookie season with the Rocket to 32 games the following year, culminating with just 20 games in 2020-21.

It was a disheartening situation for a player who showed up to practice 15 minutes before all his teammates, worked harder than his teammates once they eventually jumped on the ice, and stayed in the gym longer than anyone else following practice.

Mercifully, a coaching change in Laval remedied the situation, finally rewarding Pezzetta for all his hard work and dedication, which, in turn, led to his ascension to the Canadiens roster.

With that in mind, it’s fair to say very few players have worked harder in the Canadiens organization to earn a job in the NHL than Pezzetta.

And very few will work harder to stay.

It’s the Michael Pezzetta way.

All statistics are 5v5 unless otherwise noted. Via NaturalStatTrick.

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He’d be snapped off waivers in a heartbeat, so it’ll be interesting to see how we’re going to deal with him and all the rest of the bodies at forward after training camp next season. We’re going to need to move out a bunch of people in the summer to create spots for guys. Drouin leaving only opens 1 spot, but we need several.

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