Max Pacioretty’s much anticipated resurgence
Drafted 22nd overall in the first round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft by the Montreal Canadiens (a pick they had acquired along with Josh Gorges in exchange for veteran defenseman, and Saku Koivu's best friend, Craig Rivet), Max Pacioretty is finally making an impact offensively for the injury-riddled Habs.
Commonly known as Max Pac by his friends and teammates, Pacioretty made his NHL debut last season on January 2nd, 2009 against the New Jersey Devils. That night, he scored his first NHL goal on his first NHL shift beating Scott Clemmensen with an accurate shot in a 4-1 loss.
After starting his first professional season in the AHL with the Bulldogs, the New Canaan, Connecticut-native went on to play 34 games with le Bleu Blanc Rouge as a rookie, scoring three goals and recording eight assists for 11 points.
As a result, expectations were very high for Max Pac this season, especially after the departure of key offensive players such as Kovalev, Koivu, Tanguay, Higgins, and Lang. Slated to play on one of the top offensive lines at the start of the season, Pacioretty had a rough start, notching only one goal and two assists in the Habs' first 20 games. Then, Pacioretty was demoted to a checking line with Travis Moen and Glen Metropolit. This demotion did not help in the offensive column, but it helped him regain his confidence and improve his work ethic, playing and building chemistry with two solid veterans.
Finally, a rash of injuries to key offensive players (Gionta, Gomez, A. Kostitsyn) forced Max Pac back into an offensive role. And Pacioretty didn't disappoint Jacques Martin this time, recording six points (2g, 4a) in the past six games, playing over 20 minutes Saturday against the Capitals.
At 6'2'', 205 lbs, Pacioretty is a future power forward with an above average offensive skillset. A good skater, with quick strides, he is finally using all of his offensive tools efficiently. Recently, he has started using more often his great wrist shot and quick release, which has led to more scoring chances for him and his linemates. If he can develop a more consistent, game in, game out, the offensive statistics will pile up and he will keep getting quality minutes from head coach Jacques Martin.
Tonight, he will line up with dangler Scott Gomez and forechecker Travis Moen on the Canadiens' second line. Pacioretty will also see power play minutes on the second PP unit.
If Pacioretty continues his steady and passionated play, I would not be surprised if he manages to score 12 goals and 15 assists in the seaon's last 50 games or so; he would finish the season with 15 goals and 20 assists for 35 points, which would be a good sign for things to come as power forward tend to develop over a longer timeframe compared to skilled offensive players...