It took a few games to see the captain recover from all his imposing stature. In the first game of the season, Weber's performance was a bit of a concern, with Jeff Petry clearly stealing the team's number one defenseman.
But now, for about two weeks, the big number 6 is reassuring.
At 1.93 m (6'4 ") and 104 kg (230 lb), the machine may be slow to start at the beginning of the season. Weber is more of a diesel engine, cyclists would say. A big, strong, steady, slow, but once launched, hard to stop. A bit like the little beaver.
In the win against the Kings, all the panoply was there.
More than 25 minutes of ice time, a top at the Habs, two goals scored on firecrackers on the power play, 13 (!) Shot attempts in total and, most importantly, an almost perfect mastery of the first trio of Los Angeles, the only truly able to hurt the CH.
It was the second time Claude Julien had joined Weber and Ben Chiarot in the same duo. Once again, he had a happy hand. Against the Bruins, the two backs had limited the trio of Patrice Bergeron to a single throw on Carey Price at equal strength. On Saturday night, Anze Kopitar's trio shot five shots at the goalkeeper.
The specialized site Natural Stat Trick grants only one chance to score Kopitar and his acolytes in the whole meeting at five against five. It is very little.
We tend to forget it, but Weber has spent most of the last two seasons playing either injured or in a process of getting back in shape. Two years ago, the captain had abdicated after 26 games. He was first operated on foot in March, then on the knee in June.
Last year, he started the season in late November, two months after his teammates. Although his debut was promising, his lack of games caught up with him from February.
"It's just normal. He had returned in the middle of the season from an injury. It was difficult for him to play at the level he wanted. This time, he started at the same time as everyone else and that makes a big difference, "said Julien.
Last year, the Canadiens held the fort in his absence. His numerical advantage has suffered a lot, although the former Predators have not been able to correct anything once back.
By the way, before Saturday's game, Weber had been on the ice for only two goals of his own with the advantage of a man. He scored a brace against the Kings – including a stunning goal, grabbing his own fly-back – which now allows him to single out the 11e rank of history for goals scored by a defender at five against four with 101.
Two classic successes from the top of the circles to the right of the goalkeeper. The kind of shots that Weber could barely manage to shoot recently.
"This year, there are not really teams that gave us the shot at Shea. They made us play on the other side, they blocked his throw on reception. We did not complicate things, we gave him the puck and we let him throw, "summarized Jonathan Drouin, an accomplice of both games.
In theory, a Weber in full form, despite his 34 years, becomes a fatal weapon on the powerplay, a rock five against five, a soothing presence on the bench, a leader of men in the locker room.
Exactly the kind of character that the CH needs to guide its many young players (Cale Fleury, Nick Suzuki, Ryan Poehling and, yes, Jesperi Kotkaniemi) through the pains of the first seasons in the NHL, its ups and downs .
He will have the legitimacy to do so however, only if he continues to offer a solid return, ideally even dominating, as was the case Saturday night.
And the internal progression will then come as much from the performance of the experienced wise captain as from the improvement of the young shoots, incubated by the gentleman.
A lot of
Ben Chiarot also gave an inspired performance to Weber's left. Julien wants to use this duet sparingly, he has repeated a few times this season, especially against teams who rely on a trio really more explosive than the others.
They are irreproachable after two games. To the point where one wonders if they will eventually become regular partners. Still, Chiarot has made tremendous progress in the coach system. Nothing to surprise his captain however.
I did not learn much about him. I like his game, he plays well, he plays hard. It moves well for a guy of his size. Maybe a lot of people did not know about it before, but I knew that. I loved his game long before he landed here.
Another veteran also showed himself. Dean of the team, Nate Thompson scored his first goal of the season against his former team. At an average of 14 minutes per game, the 35-year-old veteran virtually gets the playing time of a third-line center or, at least, a fourth luxury trio. The coach has once again entrusted him with important defensive missions.
"It gives us the experience we need, because we can be young at the center, be it Kotkaniemi, Poehling or Suzuki. If we need a guy who is coming in late in a game, if we need a player after a power play, when the teams come back with their big trio, it's important to have experience. This is where Thompson comes in relief, he is able to play against the best opposing trios.
"At the end of the last season, many players said they wanted him back. We decided quickly that we could use it. Why? On the ice, he brings experience and off the ice, he is a pro and a leader. On the rink, there is no negative, it exceeded our expectations, "said Julien.
Another of these insubstantial acquisitions Marc Bergevin funny pay in the medium term.