The month of November went rather well for the Canadiens, with 8 wins and 5 losses in a semi-tough schedule. The Habs scored 31 goals while allowing only 24, and have continued to impress in all categories. Every single player has contributed towards this success, however major or minor his role may be. The incredible team mentality and strong identity in the room translates onto the ice. Things that are working: the defence, the goaltender, and most of the offence. Things to work on: consistent scoring and the power-play unit. Read on for individual rankings and recaps for all Habs players for the month of November.
Carey Price A+
The undisputed best player on the ice every single game, Price is chiefly responsible for the fact that the Habs are the only team in the NHL to not having given up more than three goals in a game (in regulation). Price has been the definition of solid, never appearing nervous or unprepared. His positioning and technique, the way he plays every angle and jumps on every puck, have been a tremendous part of the Habs’ success. His new-found maturity and calm attitude goes a long way in the dressing room and on the ice.
Alex Auld B+
Auld has sat quietly on the bench and has continued to be a mentor and calming influence for Price. He lost the one game he played in November, but still saved 44 of 47 shots during what was a good effort on his part. With Price playing the way he is, Auld will not get a chance to play much, but that seems to suit him and management, which makes signing Auld an ideal deal.
Roman Hamrlik A+
The minute Andrei Markov was injured was the minute Hamrlik took over the reins. Heroically shutting down the opposition’s top lines night after night, he has been a fortress on defence. He is the highest-scoring defenceman and plays the first wave of the PP, amassing huge minutes every game.
Josh Gorges A+
While still the most reliable workhorse on the Habs’ back end, Gorges has been looking a little roughed up and slow in recent games. And while his body may be beaten up, it doesn’t look like he’ll be relinquishing his spot on the roster, even for a couple days’ rest. I would rather Gorges take some time off now then later on in the season, but as long as he doesn’t become a liability, he has the perseverance to battle through every night.
Alexandre Picard A
What a surprise this hardworking guy has been. Playing solid, mistake-free minutes, making smart plays, being almost invisible in his excellence, Picard has proven a great acquisition. His quiet presence is a balm on the Canadiens’ blue line, and don’t underestimate his shot either. Picard, along with Jeff Halpern and Mathieu Darche, is a +9. Pretty sweet for a journeyman defenceman.
Jaroslav Spacek A-
The other half of the heroic Hamrlik shut-down defensive pair, Spacek is also amusing in interviews. The one thing I’d like to see more of is his offensive ability, which is there, but has not shown up in a Habs uniform to date. Here’s to more goals by Spacek.
Hal Gill B+
He has continued in last year’s playoffs footsteps, being excellent on the PK. JM has been wonderful in managing his minutes, playing him about 16-17 minutes a game.
P.K. Subban B-
The rookie has had his ups and downs this November. He’s had a couple of great games, and a few he’d probably take back. This is his first full NHL season and the learning curve is steep indeed. Take a hint from Price, PK: It will get better. This is all for the development and betterment of you as a player. The one thing about PK’s game that irritates me is his windup at the point. Especially on a PP, broadcasting your intentions so obviously to the opposition is not advised.
Andrei Markov C
Markov played just six games in November before being taken out by Eric Staal in a horrendous knee-on-knee hit that ended his season. Get well soon, Andrei.
Tomas Plekanec A+
In second place for the second time in a row, Plekanec has been absolutely stellar on both ends of the ice. He put up 13 points in November, one more than last year. While the recent line changes have wreaked havoc on some of the Habs’ production, being reunited with Andrei Kostitsyn has helped both players. His defensive skills have made him the Canadiens’ best two-way forward on the ice. Pleks also continues to play an integral role on the PK, and the Habs gluttony of PK players have made it tops in the league.
Brian Gionta A+
Ever since he’s been detached from Gomez, Gionta has really taken off. He had thirteen points in November, and displayed determined leadership befitting a Habs captain.
Andrei Kostitsyn A-
Production has dropped since being since being shuffled around, but evidently Andrei and Pleks have some real magic together. Putting up three goals and five assists this month, Andrei has been playing smartly, making good decisions, showing his skill and talents and using his big tough body all over the ice. All of which he didn’t do last year, so this is huge improvement.
Mike Cammalleri A-
Cammalleri had four goals and four assists in November. While more than he had in October, the stats don’t tell the whole story. Cammalleri has appeared edgy and off-balance, as if some alien had abducted our beloved playoff hero and replaced with someone angry and frustrated. The source of all this could be his being placed with Gomez, or something else entirely. All we know is, we want the real Mike Cammalleri back. I believe he will return, hopefully sooner rather than later.
Jeff Halpern A
Still continuing to do a fantastic job on faceoffs, Halpern’s usefulness in all areas of the game have contributed immensely to the team’s overall success. His veteran presence and his ability to forecheck effectively while providing offense has given the Habs top lines a fall-back option. No longer does this team rely on solely its big names and superstars, it now has credible third and fourth lines. Halpern added five points for the month of the November and still has the team’s top shooting percentage at 25.0.
Mathieu Darche A
Darche could give lessons on going to the net, he does it that effectively. Easily the best bargain in the league, Darche has excelled in his role as a gritty third-liner. He’s like this year’s Glen Metropolit with his positioning around the net and second and third efforts. His shooting percentage is an admirable 20.0, good for second on the team.
Lars Eller A-
His positioning is superb. Eller has a nose for the puck and can read and create hockey plays that are top of the line. His quiet confidence and willingness to work with the coaches and his linemates are qualities that will endear him to the entire team and its fans. Note: In reality, Eller really deserves a higher ranking based on his playmaking, but because of his offensively-challenged wingers, he’s not able to produce.
Benoit Pouliot B
Pouliot had three goals and three assists for November. He has continued to improve his game and has been playing really well of late. His fantastic work setting up some quality goals for Lars Eller and Lapierre have reminded us why he went fourth overall. If he continues playing the way he has been, he will see more results.
Maxim Lapierre B-
He’s playing well, just not seeing much in the way of results. He’s excellent in getting under opponents’ skin and making some creative plays. His two-goal game against Philadelphia is an indication of what he can do. I would really love to see him contribute more because I know he can.
Travis Moen B
Moen’s in trouble, because playing on the second line his deficiencies are being exposed. He is obviously not a top-6 player, but would still make a solid third-or-fourth-liner. When Martin shuffles the lines late in games and Moen ends up in his original role, he shines. In addition, in the post-BGL era, Moen is the one most eager and likely to come to the defence of his teammates, which I admire and respect.
Scott Gomez C
One goal and three assists. Not-great faceoff numbers. Having a hard time adjusting his game. Gomez is still in a funk, and it is not pretty. When he gives up on plays, or quits the zone too early, we all sigh and rant and rave. I would cut his ice time, veteran or no veteran. I’d demote him to the fourth line. I’d sit him for a game or two. It wouldn’t shock anybody. It might spark Gomez. Whatever’s necessary to get this talented, albeit in-a-rut player, going.
Tom Pyatt C
Continues doing his job on the PK, but has had numerous breakaways and gilt-edged chances – even a penalty shot – but has failed to show any scoring ability this season. He must reclaim this if he wants a secure position on the team – and success at the NHL level.
Dustin Boyd C
Boyd played three unmemorable games in November and was a minus 4. We haven’t heard from him since.