MONTREAL - Knowing that Sheldon Souray has a deadly shot from the point is one thing, stopping him from unloading on your goaltender is another.
Opposing teams are finding that out the hard way this season, with Souray blasting his way to the early Canadiens scoring lead, as well as, the overall point lead among NHL defensemen with nine points.
Souray also woke up Monday morning as one of the NHL's players of the week, earning the league's third star thanks to his seven points in only three games from Oct. 16 through Oct. 22.
Already off to a scorching start, Souray's four-point outburst in Saturday's 8-5 victory over the Avalanche vaulted the hard-shooting blue liner ahead of the pack and on the fast track to rewriting the club record book.
With five goals in only eight games so far, Souray has a shot at shattering Guy Lapointe's franchise record of 28 goals by a defenseman set back in 1974-75. Larry Robinson's record of 85 points put up in 1976-77 may also be in jeopardy with Souray being on pace for a 92-point season.
"It's simple, the more shots we get on net, the more scoring chances we're going to have," said the trigger-happy Souray, who also leads the Canadiens with 26 shots this season. "Our guys showing no fear and crashing the net and screening the goalie has made all the difference. Our success so far has been thanks to everyone paying the price to win."
Paying the price is putting it mildly. The brave Canadiens who dare to stand between opposing goalies and Souray's blistering slap shots can expect to wear black and blue mementos all season long, but Michael Ryder is ready to live with that painful truth.
"Stepping in front of one Shelly's shots is never fun, but it's something we need to do," said Ryder. "Shelly has really stepped up his game so far and he's been huge for us.
"We saw it again tonight against the Sabres," added Ryder. "If that one-timer he rang off the crossbar in the second period goes in, we're tied 1-1 and then who knows how the game would have ended."
Souray's next target practice victims will be Hannu Toivonen and Tim Thomas of the Bruins, who might want to wear a little extra padding when they host the Habs Thursday night in Boston.
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com