In life, you can wait a long time to get your opportunity but when you do, it’s important that you do everything in your power to make the most of it. There is no way that Justin Barron could have done that with the Colorado Avalanche this season, or maybe even next year. Not with the quality and depth that they have at their blue line. When traded to Montreal in a package for Artturi Lehkonen, he was going to an organization where their biggest need was for right-handed defensemen.
Not only was he traded to a team in need of players like him, he walked into perhaps the best situation he could have imagined. With the team in the basement of the NHL, the Canadiens had brought in a coach in Martin St-Louis who had for mission to allow for better development and giving management the opportunity to better assess what they had on hand. Mistakes are not important, even if they result in goals against, young players would be given enough rope to make the most of it or to hang themselves. The key from the coaching staff’s perspective was for them to learn from their mistakes and avoid repeating the same ones over and over.
It didn’t take long for Barron to get his feet wet. In his very first game against the New Jersey Devils, the coaching staff played him just shy of 18 minutes that game. He managed three shots on goal with no time on special teams. While not perfect, the 20 year-old did leave a good first impression. In fact, only Alexander Romanov (24:05), David Savard (22:40) and Joel Edmundson (18:27) played more than Barron. But unlike the rookie, they all had time on special teams.
The competition got more serious for the next three games. The Canadiens were visiting three of the Eastern Conference’s top teams as they were visiting the Panthers, the Hurricanes and the Lightning. Amazingly enough, Barron faired quite well against top opposition with the Habs not having the last change.
|vs NJD||vs FLA||vs CAR||vs TBL||vs OTT||TOTALS|
Amazingly enough, Barron was trusted for three shifts in overtime in New Jersey and two more shifts in overtime against Tampa Bay.
Playing at the Bell Centre for the first time, Barron did well, managing five shots on goal. Scoring his first NHL goal on home ice is something fans made sure the young defenseman would never forget. They made it even more memorable by giving him a standing ovation. Boy is it good to see that rink rocking with fans again!
In five games so far, Barron is first amongst defensemen in shots on goal (13), second in points (1 back of Chris Wideman) and fourth in ice time, 11 seconds fewer than Joel Edmundson. Not bad for a first impression at 20 years old, isn’t it? Now imagine him on the blue line paired with Kaiden Guhle in the future.