BROSSARD – Depth and playoff success go hand in hand in today’s NHL.
With that concept in mind, general manager Marc Bergevin made several acquisitions over the course of the 2013-14 campaign that are paying immediate dividends for the Canadiens at a time of year when unsung heroes rise to the occasion and make the most of the opportunities they’re given.
Acquired on Feb. 3 in exchange for defenseman Raphael Diaz, Dale Weise has been anything but a spare part for Michel Therrien & Co. during the 2014 playoffs. The 25-year-old notched his second game-winner of the postseason in the Canadiens’ 4-2 victory over the Bruins at the Bell Centre on Tuesday night, while also chipping in with an assist, three hits and a plus-2 differential in 11:05 of ice time.
Needless to say, it hasn’t taken the Habs bench boss long to see what Weise can bring to the table with his grit, feistiness and noticeable scoring touch on the team’s rather productive fourth line.
“Since coming on board, Dale has brought a lot to this team. He’s a guy who seems genuinely happy to be with our team,” praised Therrien while addressing the media on Wednesday afternoon at the Bell Sports Complex. “You can’t forget that in Montreal, the passion of our fans, particularly in the postseason, helps players feel more comfortable. He’s been playing inspiring hockey and contributing to the positive results of our group.”
A lifelong Canadiens fan while growing up in Winnipeg, Weise is relishing his time in La Belle Province and doing everything possible to soak up the playoff fever that has overtaken Montreal since mid-April.
“In Vancouver, I walked around the streets every day and nobody had any idea who I was. I can’t walk five feet without getting noticed in Montreal. I love it,” offered Weise, who has also registered 17 hits in seven tilts during the playoffs. “The fans are passionate here. The building was ecstatic on Tuesday night. It’s the best atmosphere in the league to play in. It’s a dream come true to play here.”
If Weise has been a sparkplug on offense since arriving on the scene in early February, Mike Weaver has also turned his fair share of heads on the back end since joining the Canadiens on Mar. 4.
The 11-year NHL veteran, who currently ranks third on the team with 20 blocked shots, has showcased his fearlessness time and again in defense of netminder Carey Price. It’s a blue-collar role Weaver has grown accustomed to over the course of a lengthy career that saw him suit up for the Thrashers, Kings, Canucks, Blues and Panthers before making the move to Montreal.
“Truthfully, I don’t have the same pressure on me that goal scorers do, the guys who are supposed to score on a daily basis. It’s just about jumping in front of shots for me. There’s really nothing to it. Obviously, you’ve just got to jump in front of those, but for the most part I just play a simple game,” confided Weaver, who has one goal and three points in seven games during the 2014 playoffs while logging an average of 15:13 of ice time per game.
“I’ve been pretty fortunate that I’ve been able to fit into the structure here. It’s tough coming from another team midway through the season,” continued Weaver, who has been paired with Francis Bouillon and Douglas Murray during the postseason. “I just make simple plays, and get the puck up to guys who can score.”
Keeping things simple is exactly what has endeared both Weise and Weaver to their teammates in such a short time period, enabling the pair to blend in seamlessly with a group that has given its playoff opponents all they can handle thus far.
For his part, Therrien is looking forward to more of the same from Nos. 22 and 43 as the playoffs roll on.
“We’re very proud of the depth that we have. Those guys have integrated themselves into our group quickly. We’re a united team and there’s good chemistry among the players,” explained Therrien. “The guys who joined us bought in to our way of playing quickly. All of that put together makes those acquisitions even more exceptional for us.”
Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.
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