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When defensemen attack

Thursday, 08.12.2011 / 11:30 PM / News
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When defensemen attack

MONTREAL – Despite being edged in a shootout, the Habs enjoyed a shot of offense from their rookie blue-liners Thursday night.

While the Habs’ blue-liners may have spent the majority of 2011-12 blocking shots 200 feet away from the opposing goalie, they spent just as much of Thursday night’s tilt scoring goals against last year’s Stanley Cup finalists.

Before Thursday’s match-up the Canadiens’ rearguards hadn’t found the back of the net on too many occasions in 2011-12, accounting for only six of the team’s goals, with three coming from Yannick Weber alone who was a healthy scratch against Vancouver. Around the rest of the league, only the New York Islanders, the Minnesota Wild and the New Jersey Devils’ defensive cores had logged less goals, scoring only five apiece. 

Frederic St-Denis scores his first goal as a Canadien

At the other end of the spectrum, the Detroit Red Wings sit on top of the heap, with a league-high 21 goals scored by their defensemen, with veterans Nicklas Lidstrom and Niklas Kronwall lighting the lamp six times each.

On Thursday night, the Canadiens’ defense set out to remedy the situation and provide some offensive punch for their team. It would start with what turned out to not only be the first goal of the night, but also the first goal of rookie rearguard Frederic St-Denis’ young NHL career. Raphael Diaz would follow suit soon after giving the Canadiens an 2-0 lead early in the game’s first frame.

“We were just trying to put puck on the net whenever we got the chance,” explained the 25-year-old defenseman following the his eighth game in the NHL. “That’s how you have to play against a goalie like [Roberto] Luongo. It was nice to have been able to contribute offensively.”

The night may not have ended in the way the Canadiens, or St-Denis, would have hoped, but his first goal will still be something he won’t likely forget anytime soon.

“It was just a wrister really. I threw the puck at the net we had good traffic and I though Gio might have tipped the puck,” explained St-Denis of his shot through a crowded crease that ultimately beat Luongo. “They gave the goal to me in the end though. I still have to take a look at the replay, but I was really happy to be able to score.”

While the Canucks would come from behind to steal the game in a shootout, St-Denis along with defensive partner Hal Gill both finished the match with a plus-1 differential.

“Carey definitely kept us in the game again tonight,” concluded St-Denis. “It’s tough to win in this league and right now, we need to find a way to be better on our special teams.”

Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com

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