Covering Games 21-41 [Nov. 19-Jan. 11]
The grades assigned for the players are based on the second quarter of play, but the statistics include both quarters.
Steve Begin – Grade: A-
Stats: 40 Games, 9 Goals, 6 Assists, +5, 89 Pim, 74 Shots, 1 PPG, 2 SHG, 2 GWG, TOI 577:14, TOI/Game 14:25, Faceoff WL 209-220, FO Win% 48.72, Hits 107, Takeaways 23, Giveaways 31, Blocked Shots 31
Comments: While Begin continues to be the Canadiens equivalent to the Energizer bunny, his offensive contribution dipped in the second quarter of the season [4 points in 20 games]. Despite the reduction, he continues to bring a consistent presence to the Habs lineup every game, which has been invaluable during the team’s struggle of the second quarter with a 6-12-3 record. He’s one of the team’s leaders, and the team plays better with his presence. He missed only one game due to a questionable suspension by the league. Begin leads the team in hits and often delivers them in a timely manner. He lead the Habs forwards in giveaways.
Jan Bulis – Grade: B
Stats: 37 Games, 5 Goals, 11 Assists, -2, 28 Pim, 68 Shots, 1 PPG, 1 SHG, 2 GWG, TOI 607:30, TOI/Game 16:25, Faceoff WL 31-49, FO Win% 38.75, Hits 52, Takeaways 26, Giveaways 15, Blocked Shots 15
Comments: Bulis has played well in various roles during the second quarter. Along with his regular checking line assignments, he has been spotted on both the first and second lines when other Habs regulars have been injured. His offensive production has been a little inconsistent, but he finished the quarter with 7 points in the last 5 games with most of the other injured forwards in the lineup.
Radek Bonk – Grade: Incomplete
Stats: 23 Games, 1 Goal, 7 Assists, -6 +/-, 22 Pim, 31 Shots TOI 377:18, TOI/Games 16:24, Faceoff WL 175-192, FO Win% 47.68, Hits 18, Takeaways 20, Giveaways 8, Blocked Shots 17
Comments: Bonk has only managed to play 8 games in this quarter due to a recurring groin injury; had he played a little more he would have likely been given a failing grade.
Pierre Dagenais – Grade: D
Stats: 32 Games, 5 goal, 7 assist, -5, 16 Pim, 74 Shots TOI 317:26, TOI/Game 9:55, Faceoff WL 43-38, FO Win% 53.09, Hits 19, Takeaways 5, Giveaways 2, Blocked Shots 3
Comments- Dagenais’ quarter ended early with a demotion to the Habs farm team after being a healthy scratch for 3 straight games. He was eligible for waivers, and despite a near league minimum salary, no other team selected him. Pierre’s game is based on shooting, and despite improvements with his offensive game [10 points in 17 games] and no change in his plus/minus stat he was demoted. Ironically, Dagenais has one of the team’s best faceoff stats. His skating has always been his detriment to reaching and staying in the NHL, and the head coach essentially stated it was the main reason for Dagenais not fitting into the Habs team system.
Chris Higgins – Grade: C+
Stats: 41 Games, 5 Goals, 7 Assists, -5, 18 Pim, 61 Shots TOI 511:34, TOI/Game 12:28, Faceoff WL 14-16, FO Win% 46.67, Hits 33, Takeaways 18, Giveaways 9, Blocked Shots 17
Comments: Chris has been inconsistent in the second quarter. He produced nearly the same amount of offense [7 points] but his plus minus went down 8 points. Some games he has showed flashes of speed and good anticipation to allow him to either fore check the opposition into a turnover, or set up a good scoring opportunity. At other times, he’s been nearly invisible.
Higgins has spent time on every one of the 4 lines last quarter, so his versatility is a definite asset.
Saku Koivu – Grade: A
Stats: 31 Games, 10 goals, 21 assists, +1, 28 Pim, 66 shots, 2 PPG, 1 GWG TOI 618:08, TOI/Game 19:50, Faceoff WL 346-310, FO Win% 52.74, Hits 15, Takeaways 33, Giveaways 16, Blocked Shots 10
A nagging groin injury limited the Habs captain to 10 of the 21 games, and his presence was missed. Despite the injury and missed games, Koivu continues to lead the team in scoring with a point per game ratio. His faceoff skills are improved this season, and he continues to do the little things well, such as checking assignments, whenever asked.
Alex Kovalev – Grade: A-
Stats: 28 Games, 8 Goals, 19 Assists, +, 30 Pim, 82 Shots, 4 PPG TOI 602:09, TOI/Game 21:30, Faceoff WL 14-14, FO Win% 50.0, Hits 19, Takeaways 26, Giveaways 19, Blocked Shots 10
Comments: Kovalev played in only 10 games in the second quarter, due to recovering from minor knee surgery. His return to the lineup December 20 was magical, as he contributed 3 points, including his 300th goal, to lead the Habs to a 4-3 win. Since that time, his play has been inconsistent. He’s scored 8 points during those 10 games, but has been shut down in 5 of them. The Habs will need him to elevate his game for the rest of the season in order for the team to have a chance at a playoff spot.
Garth Murray – Grade B-
Stats: 13 Games, 1 Goal, 1 Assist, -2, 11 Pim, 12 Shots, TOI 97:05, TOI/Game 7:28, Faceoff WL 35-40, FO Win% 46.67, Hits 13, Takeaways 2, Giveaways 2, Blocked Shots 8
Comments: Garth was a surprise call up, based on an unremarkable start in the AHL. However, he responded well on the 4th line, chipping in the occasional point, providing timely hits, playing hard but smart in the corners, and playing positionally sound hockey. He even stepped up for a teammate by challenging an opponent to a fight, and fared well. He stands to make a career as a 4th or 3rd line player if he can continue his play.
Alex Perezhogin – Grade: C-
Stats: 36 Games, 6 Goals, 6 Assists, +1, 24 Pim, 59 Shots, 2 PPG, 1 GWG TOI 339:00 TOI/Game 9:25, Faceoff WL 0-4, FO Win% 0.0, Hits 6, Takeaways 13, Giveaways 4, Blocked Shots 9
Comments: Perezhogin’s progress stalled during the second quarter of the season, producing a mere 3 points in 17 games. His lack of effort some nights caused the head coach to keep him on the bench many games. He appeared lost without his line mates at the start of the season, Koivu & Kovalev. At the start of the New Year, GM Bob Gainey decided to demote Perezhogin to the AHL.
Tomas Plekanec – Grade: C-
Stats: 31 Games, 4 Goals, 8 Assists, -2, 10 Pim, 51 Shots TOI 394:04, TOI/Game 12:42, Faceoff WL 151-142, FO Win% 51.54, Hits 17, Takeaways 21, Giveaways 18, Blocked Shots 12
Comments: Tomas suffered a knee injury that limited him to 11 games in the second quarter. Before the injury, Plekanec’s offense had declined, as he produced a mere 3 points in 11 games. Similar to Chris Higgins, his plus/minus dropped 8 points; this is a high amount of only 11 games. His overall game was inconsistent, as his anticipation and skating skills were not as sharp as the first quarter. Some games he looked lost and some games his effort was visible.
Mike Ribiero – Grade: D
Stats: 39 Games, 7 Goals, 19 Assists, -10, 22 Pim, 73 Shots, 4 PPG, 2 GWG TOI 684:40, TOI/Game 17:33, Faceoff WL 194-244, FO Win% 44.29, Hits 22, Takeaways 40, Giveaways 15, Blocked Shots 10
Comments: Offensively, Ribeiro’s production dropped over the quarter despite the increase in ice time. He’s currently stuck in a 15 game goal-less streak, and was relegated to the press box for two games in the hope that he would bounce back. During his first two games back, he was held scoreless with an even plus minus but did show some improvements. The media and fans have been putting a great deal of pressure on Ribeiro, and trade rumours have been abundant, but it’s very unlikely he will be dealt this season. Ribeiro did manage to lead the Habs with 8 assists during the month of December, and he leads all forwards in takeaways.
Michael Ryder – Grade: B
Stats: 41 Games, 18 Goals, 11 Assists, -5, 30 Pim, 121 Shots, 10 PPG, 3 GWG TOI 678:11, TOI/Game 16:32, Hits 58, Takeaways 14, Giveaways 20, Blocked Shots 14
Comments: Ryder has improved overall in the second quarter. His offence has increased [16 points over 21 games], and he’s gone up two points in his plus minus rating. This is particularly impressive given that his usual line mate Ribeiro went down 5 points in the same game span. It’s also impressive considering that the team was without their best shooter, Kovalev, for most of the quarter, and the opposition should have been making Ryder their top target. He’s the team’s best goal scorer and most dangerous on the power play, where’s he’s scored 10 of his 18 goals. Michael was able to register at least one shot on goal in each game this quarter, and has only been held without a shot once this season. That shows that he’s doing what he’s expected to do, shoot the puck and score.
Niklas Sundstrom – Grade: C+
Stats: 37 Games, 6 Goals, 6 Assists, -5, 18 Pim, 41 Shots, 2 GWG TOI 549:02, TOI/Game 14:50, Faceoff WL 1-9, FO Win% 10.0, Hits 7, Takeaways 35, Giveaways 11, Blocked Shots 19
Comments: Sundstrom play has suffered this quarter. While he continued to chip in a few points  his plus minus rating dropped 9 points. He continues to do the little things on defense that are valuable, but appears to have pulled into the team funk that dropped them out of the final playoff position as the quarter ended.
Richard Zednik – Grade: B-
Stats: 32 Games, 11 Goals, 7 Assists, -3, 20 Pim, 88 Shots, 6 PPG, 2 GWG TOI 550:55, TOI/Games 17:12, Faceoff WL 1-4, FO Win% 25.0, Hits 42, Takeaways 18, Giveaways 11, Blocked Shots 17
Comments: He missed 1 game due to the flu. The second quarter had Richard produce 8 points in 20 games, while dropping 6 points in his plus/minus rating. A recent reunion with healthy line mates Koivu & Kovalev has not resulted in the offensive production expected from the top line. Zednik’s been relegated to the checking line in the past two games, but still managed a point and 5 shots. The move was not so much a demotion but part of a line shake up that head coach Claude Julien has tried to improve the offense.
Francis Bouillon – Grade: B-
Stats: 21 Games, 2 Goals, 10 Assists, -7, 18 Pim, 26 Shots, 1 PPG TOI 393:41, TOI/Game 19:41, Hits 39, Takeaways 23, Giveaways 18, Blocked Shots 24
Comments: Bouillon’s offensive production has continued at the same pace as the first quarter [6 points], and his ice time has increased while the Habs struggled with injuries. Unfortunately his plus minus rating plunged 6 points. Overall, his play has been good but not great. He’s generally good on clearing the puck and surprises opposing forwards with heavy hits. He occasionally gets caught out of position or has difficulty with handling an opposing forward in front of the net, but these events have happened no more often than any other Habs defender. He leads the defensemen in hits, and is second on the squad. Recently, Bouillon has been a plus 5 over the past 6 games, while producing 4 points in the last 4 games.
Mathieu Dandenault – Grade: B-
Stats: 41 Games, 1 Goal, 2 Assists, +1, 50 Pim, 53 Shots TOI 811:55, TOI/Game 18:51, Hits 19, Takeaways 8, Giveaways 13, Blocked Shots 15
Comments: Dandenault continues to be a steady influence on the blue line. His ice time has gone up, his plus minus went down only 1 point, and he managed to score his first goal as a Hab. His defense has been generally good, and his speed helps keep up or catch up to opposing forwards.
Mike Komisarek – Grade: C-
Stats: 31 Games, 0 Goals, 1 Assist, -2, 39 Pim, 19 Shots TOI 400:38, TOI/Game 12:55, Hits 59, Takeaways 7, Giveaways 23, Blocked Shots 26
Comments: Komisarek’s confidence has been adversely affected during the second quarter. His ice time has been reduced, as the coach has often opted to double shift his veterans later in the game. Part of the reason may be due to the loss of his mother, which may have affected his concentration and the mental part of the game. He has missed 3 games due to the loss, has been a healthy scratch for 3 other games, and has dressed but not seen any ice time in 2 other games this quarter. During the games he did play, his worst was a -4 rating against Anaheim December 10, but no other game stands out as a terrible match.
Andrei Markov – Grade: B
Stats: 38 Games, 5 Goals, 20 Assists, 0, 54 Pim, 59 Shots, 2 PPG TOI 932:02, TOI/Game 24:31, Hits 30, Takeaways 46, Giveaways 39, Blocked Shots 55
Comments: Markov continue to lead the team offensively with 15 points in 18 games over the second quarter. His plus minus rating did drop 5 points. His lack of discipline lead to him pushing an official at the end of an overtime loss to Toronto, which resulted in a 3 game league suspension. This happened at a particularly inopportune time, as the Canadiens were already missing regulars on defense. Andrei managed his second 6-game scoring streak during the December, and tied for the lead in points with 10 for that month. He’s on track for a career best season in points, and leads the team’s defensemen in ice time per game and takeaways & giveaways.
Craig Rivet – Grade: B-
Stats: 41 Games, 4 Goals, 13 Assists, -4, 49 Pim, 66 Shots, 3 PPG TOI 935:12, TOI/Game 22:48, Faceoff WL 0-2, FO Win% 0, Hits 56, Takeaways 32, Giveaways 35, Blocked Shots 66
Comments: Rivet has faltered somewhat during the second quarter. He continues to help on the power play, and his offence is above his usual low numbers [9 points in 21 games], but his plus minus rating dropped 10 points, the worst on the team. He’s taken some bad penalties at bad times that have hurt the club. As one of the team’s leaders, he also leads the team’s defenders in total ice time. Recently, his offense has increased with 3 points over the past 2 games with an even plus minus rating. Craig is on pace for the best offensive season of his career.
Sheldon Souray – Grade: B
Stats: 17 Games, 1 Goal, 4 Assists, -1, 22 Pim, 32 Shots, 1 PPG TOI 374:52, TOI/Game 19:43, Hits 31, Takeaways 14, Giveaways 26, Blocked Shots 26
Comments: After a somewhat disappointing first quarter, Souray has been showing improvements in the second quarter. His offensive game has picked up steam [8 points in 17 games], while keeping his plus minus rating even; the latter is remarkable feat given the team’s 6-12-3 record and 20 goal differentials during the span. Considering the personal problems he’s been dealing with, and the loss of 4 games due to a groin injury, his good play has been welcome. He’s been starting to look more confident over the past few weeks.
Mark Streit – Grade D+
Stats: 25 Games, 0 Goals, 5 Assists, -5, 16 Pim, 20 Shots TOI 298:23, TOI/Game 11:56, Faceoff WL 0-1, FO Win% 0, Hits 19, Takeaways 4, Giveaways 15, Blocked Shots 11
Comments: At times, Streit looks confident with carrying and moving the puck. At other times, he looks a lost within his own defensive zone. His adjustments to the North American game are still a work in progress, and it’s still unknown if he can The coaches appear to agree, as he’s been dealt a similar amount of ice time as Mike Komisarek. Streit played in 14 games, contributing 2 assists, while missing 3 games due to the flu. Mark also missed 2 games as a healthy scratch, while being dressed 2 games but not seeing any ice time.
Yann Danis – Grade: Incomplete
Stats: 6 Games, 312 Minutes, 3 Wins, 2 Losses 1 Shutout, 14 GA, 2.69 GAA, 138 Saves, .908 Sv%
Comments: Danis played in only 2 games during the second quarter, before being demoted for the return of Christobal Huet from the Injured Reserve list.
Jose Theodore – Grade: C+
Stats: 31 Games, 1806 Minutes, 14 Wins, 11 Losses [incl 5 OTL, 1 SOL] 0 Shutouts, 97 GA, 3.22 GAA, 773 Saves, .889 Sv%
Comments: Theodore had literally been an up and down goalie in the second quarter. At times, he has played well. More often, he has not, allowing bad rebounds and going down too early to open up the top part of the net that have lead to goals. His stats have stayed about the same as the first quarter. You can often sense the team’s momentum swinging away from the Habs after a bad goal by Theodore. Jose did suffer a shot to the unprotected side of his knee, which he tried to play through, but ultimately it caused him to miss 4 games.
Cristobal Huet – Grade B
Stats: 6 Games, 2 Wins, 3 Losses, 18 GA, 2.97 GAA, 197 Saves, .916 Sv%
Comments: Huet has performed well, especially considering his early return from a major knee injury that had him scheduled to arrive as late as January [his first game was December 17, and was called up from the AHL November 27]. His earlier games were a little shaky, but he recently handled two straight starts with over 40 or more shots per game, allowing only 3 goals. During this time, his mostly stand up style, with square positioning to the shooters has been successful. His rebound control is very good, and he tends to stay up as long as possible to remove the top end of the net from the shooters. His solid play should challenge Jose Theodore to play better.