In 2007-08, the Montreal Canadiens had the best power play in the National Hockey League, due in large part to some of the best offensive defensemen in the game today, namely Andrei Markov and Mark Streit.
Both blueliners possess booming shots from the point and excellent on-ice vision, two attributes that are vital on the power play.
While Markov was an anchor in the Canadiens' back end alongside Mike Komisarek, Streit was constantly shifted from forward to defensemen in his tenure in Montreal, due in large part to both his offensive abilities and a crowded blueline.
Although Streit was a regular contributor in the regular season and the playoffs, Guy Carbonneau continuously juggled him between forward and defense. This incited the Swiss blueliner to not re-sign with the Canadiens, instead accepting an offer from the New York Islanders.
Since then, the Montreal power play has been on a downward spiral, in large part due to the absence of Streit.
With Andrei Markov going down early in the season, a huge void was left on the man advantage, so Bob Gainey decided to go out and sign free agent Marc-Andre Bergeron.
In his 31 games with the Habs, Bergeron has already put up 19 points, nine of those points being goals.
Bergeron was able to patch up the power play in Markov's absence, but with the return of many injured defensemen, he has been juggled between forward and defense.
As opposed to Streit, Bergeron has taken advantage of the situation to display his offensive talents.
And as more and more defensemen return from injury, it is difficult to envision Bergeron retaining a permanent spot on the blue line, especially since his defensive play is nothing to write home about.
The one constant in Bergeron's time with the Canadiens has been his presence on the power play, where he has ably made opposing teams pay for taking penalties.
And with Andrei Markov now back in action, the French-Canadian defenseman's point total figure to continue to climb.
As of late, a pattern has emerged in many of the Canadiens' victories: solid goaltending and an excellent special team, while the rest they would rather forget about.
The Canadiens remain a team that has trouble playing a full, 60-minute hockey game, so Bergeron's importance to the team only becomes more apparent.
His contract ends at the conclusion of the season, so will he be satisfied being a power play specialist, or will be like Streit and sign with another team that offers him a more permanent position?
It is tough to imagine that any team would take Bergeron to be a key cog for their defense, so the Habs have a great chance at keeping him on their power play.
Seeing as how Bergeron was able to keep the Canadiens' power play numbers respectable in the absence of Markov, and with his growing importance to the team's playoff hopes, it'd be a shame if Gainey would let him walk like he did Streit.
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