The Mathieu Schneider Effect: The Canadiens' Power Play Is on Fire

Fred PoulinCorrespondent IFebruary 22, 2009

Since being acquired by GM Bob Gainey from the Atlanta Thrashers last Monday, Mathieu Schneider has played three games for the Canadiens. The veteran defenseman already has two goals and one assist, all on the power play, and despite being -4 during that span, Schneider has played very well for the Habs, logging about 23 minutes of play per game.

With Francis Bouillon's groin injury now deemed long-term, Schneider's acquisition is even more important for the Canadiens, as it should allow them to get some stability on their top two defenseman pairings. For now, Schneider is playing with Andrei Markov while Mike Komisarek plays with Roman Hamrlik.

With Schneider around, coach Guy Carbonneau doesn't have to wear out Patrice Brisebois or Josh Gorges.

Still, the main beneficiary of Schneider's presence has been the Canadiens' power play. In 12 attempts over the past three games, the Canadiens have scored seven goals; that's a stellar 58.3 percent rate.

The Canadiens are now ranked 17th in the NHL after this recent boost. They hovered around the 25th rank for most of the season.

With a motivated Kovalev, an explosive power play, and Alex Tanguay's imminent return, GM Bob Gainey will be in good position at the deadline to make the right move to consolidate the Canadiens' position as a playoff team.