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Michael Pezzetta needs to find his « mojo »

The Habs ended their three-game losing streak Monday night by defeating Jonathan Drouin and his Avalanche at the Bell Centre… just days after a rotten home series against the Sabres and Sharks. That’s theHabs for you.

Several players put in inspiring performances on Monday: Jake Allen, Joel Armia, Nick Suzuki, Mike Matheson, Juraj Slafkovsky…

Even Cole Caufield played one of his best games of the season.

But there’s one player for whom Saturday’s game didn’t taste as good as all the others: Michael Pezzetta.

The Ontario forward was punished on his first shift of the game… and he only had five or six appearances after that. As a result, Pezzetta finished the game with just 4:07 of playing time, his second-lowest career total. He had played less than four minutes on March 26, 2022 against the Maple Leafs.

It should be noted that Pezzetta had spent just 5.5 minutes on the ice in the previous game against the Oilers. That’s two times in a row that Martin St-Louis hasn’t used him much.

Georges Laraque gave Michael Pezzetta some advice last summer.


Pezzetta currently plays alongside Mitchell Stephens and Jesse Ylonen on the fourth line, a lineup that looks more AHL than NHL, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Problem #1 is that Pezzetta is limited. His talent is (much) higher than mine, but he’s no match for the team’s (and especially the other team’s) best offensive forwards. Against NHL powerhouses, it seems even more so. That’s problem #1.

But problem #2 is that Pezzetta sometimes forgets his role and status on the team. As Marin St-Louis would say: he forgets what kind of chair he’s sitting on. And he covets a chair that isn’t really his.

On Monday night, Pezzetta handed out just one check. I’m willing to believe he didn’t get much playing time, but Steve Bégin would probably have advised him to eat the boards in such circumstances. Not to lick.

Pezzetta has 8 points in 32 games so far this campaign. He’s on track for his most productive season in the Bettman circuit. And maybe that’s the problem.

He’s in a position to help the Habs by hitting and disrupting the opposition. He’s the Montreal player with the most body checks so far this season (111), and only nine players have given up more hits than Pezzetta this season across the league.

To be effective and to earn his place in the line-up, Pezzetta has to hit. He must disturb. On Monday, he was unable to do so. It seemed as if things were moving too fast for him.

Nor has he thrown down the gloves since the start of 2024, even though that’s part of his role, especially since Arber Xhekaj was sent back to Laval.

In short, Pezzetta needs to be aware of his mandate: to hit, disturb, protect and provoke things on the ice. Not necessarily to produce points (and celebrate like Tiger Williams).

That’s how he’ll keep his place in the line-up, even when the likes of Josh Anderson, Alex Newhook, Kirby Dach (in October), Tanner Pearson and Christian Dvorak are fit to return to action. Guess what: it’s also by returning to his own identity that he’ll enjoy success with the puck.

Let’s not forget that Pezzetta was not in Martin St-Louis’ line-up for the inaugural game in October. Since he wasn’t exactly concocted in the mold prioritized by the coach, he has to justify (twice as much as anyone else) his presence in the line-up.

Pezzetta must be feeling a sense of urgency. Injuries at forward allow him to stay in the lineup night after night, but he needs to take a leaf out of Joel Armia’s book: he needs to step up and give everything he’s got to show us the best version of himself. Not just the average version.

For now, the presence of a #3 goalie and the lack of depth (in terms of health) help Pezz… but it won’t always be like this. If Pezzetta wants to take the next step with the Tricolore, he won’t just have to rely on the fact that he’s eligible for the waivers, and Kent Hughes doesn’t like to lose guys to waivers for nothing. He’ll have to prove his worth. And now is the time.

Starting tonight in New Jersey…

We need to see him apply solid checking. And if that doesn’t work, he’ll have to throw down the gloves.

That’s his role. That’s how he can help the club win games.

In brief

– Joe Rogan gives Artur Beterbiev some big love.

– Réjean Tremblay takes another (very) red swipe at Yvon Michel.

– Les Trois Accords will be singing after a Remparts game next month.

– Do your research, as the saying goes.

Djoko wasn’t happy… and he let it be known.

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