Max Pacioretty dominant in first game back from injury
In his first game as the captain of the Montreal Canadiens, and returning from a broken tibia that kept him out of action for the previous 12 weeks, Max Pacioretty’s timing was a bit off when it came to shooting, but he was a force to be reckoned with nonetheless.
Playing just 15:29 overall, and 11:52 at even strength, Pacioretty led the entire team in controlled zone entries with nine, two more than Alexander Semin, who was also strong against the Ottawa Senators.
It wasn’t just zone entries though, Pacioretty’s transitional play was off the charts. We’ve talked about possession driving plays before, but to reiterate, possession driving plays are plays that move the puck into the offensive zone, meaning controlled exits from the defensive zone, controlled entries into the offensive zone, crossing centre ice with the puck, successful outlet passes, successful stretch passes, and successful North, East, or West passes in the neutral zone. Now look at Pacioretty’s performance against the Senators.
Obviously we’re only talking about a single game here, it doesn’t have any predictive value for what Pacioretty is going to do going forward, but it does to a good job of showing how involved he was in the game, and how much he was driving possession.
We can go one step further to look at where Pacioretty was driving play in all situations, and how often his plays were broken up, which are represented by transparent points (Note that the above graph is only counting successful plays).
Pacioretty’s biggest play driving ability comes from his skating, which he used for a ridiculous 27 line carries. Of all Pacioretty’s possession driving plays, only three were broken up by his opponents, which is pretty impressive for a first game back, preseason or no.
While not indicative of the kind of performance you can expect from Pacioretty each night, his first game back in the lineup shows how important he is to the Canadiens transition play. Considering Pacioretty is recovering from a knee injury, there really couldn’t have been a stronger sign that he’s ready to go when the puck drops on the regular season.
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