January was a great month for the Canadiens, with 6 wins and 5 losses. The best part was the way
the Habs battled back when they were down and came back to win games we thought were over. Montreal scored 33 goals while allowing only 31 and the level of unity and character absent in December was evident throughout January. Carey Price was spectacularly solid and the offence exploded while the defence really tightened it up. All in all, a fantastic month. Read on for individual rankings and recaps of all Habs players for the month of January.
Carey Price A+
Price continues to be solid, and spectacular when necessary. Unlike his previous All-Star appearance, after which Price went through a terrible slump, this one didn’t affect him at all – he’s been calm, cool and collected since training camp.
Alex Auld B+
The backup goaltender played 2 games in January, winning against New York, letting only one goal past him. Unfortunately, he was pulled in his first game at the Bell Centre after Montreal blew a four-goal lead. Happily, P.K. Subban scored the OT winner to salvage two points, but understandably Auld was not content with his performance. That
should only lead to better and improved goaltending from him.
James Wisniewski A
Wisniewski was second on the team in scoring, and had nine assists in January. He also played over 20 minutes every single game, topping out at 30:30 TOI against Anaheim on January 22nd. His defensive game has dropped a little bit, but he continues to fill an important role on the team.
Hal Gill A
Gill earned two assists this past month and a game misconduct against Boston January 8th. That one ended in a melee behind Carey Price’s net after Zdeno Chara took offense at Max Pacioretty’s slight touch when Max scored the OT winner. Gill got in there and before you knew it, there were penalties and bruised egos all over the ice. Gill has been courageous in blocking shots and being the best he can.
Roman Hamrlik A
Hamrlik still looks exhausted to me sometimes, but night after night he’s been up to the task of shutting down and making smart defensive plays. He averaged about 20 minutes a game in January which is manageable.
Yannick Weber A
Weber picked up 4 assists in January and is securing himself a permanent spot in the roster. His size has not been a major issue and he deals well with being pushed around, not reacting to anything. His defensive skills continue to improve and impress and I just wish we could see more offence from him.
P.K. Subban A
What a month for Subban. He had a goal and three assists before scoring the game-winner (and bagging an assist) against Calgary and provoking reactions from all over with his enthusiastic celebration of it. It was a passionate response to an emotional goal and he – as well as any NHL player – is entitled to celebrate big moments like this one. P.K.’s offensive total for the month was 3 goals and 5 assists.
Jaroslav Spacek A-
Spacek had three assists in January, two of which came against Calgary in that 5-4 heart-attack overtime win at the Bell. His time on ice is being carefully managed, therefore his exhibits no signs of fatigue yet.
Alexandre Picard C
Picard played 2 games in January and was a -3. He played 13 and 14 minutes respectively and that was it for him.
Tomas Plekanec A+
He had 5 goals and 4 assists in January, including the game-winner against
Ottawa. He has had some off nights but still leads all Habs in points (43) and is their best player in all three zones and in any given situation. Plekanec has been
struggling in the faceoff circle, but he’ll regain his mastery of it soon I know.
Max Pacioretty A+
Pacioretty’s awesome revival of his NHL career is still astounding me. The way he goes to the net, his speed, the way he makes a difference on the ice and the intensity of each shift and each battle – he’s become a top-6 winger. 4 goals, 3 assists for Max in January. Had Pacioretty been seriously injured in the Buffalo game it would created a huge hole in the top-6. After reports suggesting fractured ribs (due to a James Wisnewski shot, no less) and footage of the winger carted off on a stretcher, things looked iffy. It was remarkable and heroic of Pacioretty to get back to skating and playing so soon – and playing better than ever.
Brian Gionta A
While Gionta had only 3 goals and not a single assist in January, he seems to have recaptured the leadership spirit. The team has really tightened up and credit is due to the captain.
Scott Gomez A-
One goal, five assists. Not enough from Gomez to satisfy me. The question of what to do with him has no answer. He’s also taken some mindless penalties when the Habs were down that have cost the team badly.
Mike Cammalleri A-
Cammalleri played only 5 games and 1:35 in the January 18 game against Buffalo after he was cross-checked into the boards by the Sabres’ Mike Weber. It was immediately evident that he was hurt and he is still out with a separated shoulder but recovering nicely. With a goal and 2 assists in those 5 games, let’s hope for a better rest-of-the-season for Cammalleri. Sadly, it seemed like his play had improved before the injury.
Mathieu Darche A-
Darche had three goals and five assists in January. His TOI has been consistent with December, but he’s not as visible as he was early in the season.
Andrei Kostitsyn B+
Three goals and two assists do not tell the whole story about Kosttisyn. He does look a lot more interested and is making smarter plays. When he uses his body and goes to the net, nothing can stop him.
Jeff Halpern B
Halpern had just one goal and two assists and has been nearly invisible
offensively for the second straight month. He was also injured in the Buffalo game but returned soon enough to send the call-ups from Hamilton back home. Continues to excel in faceoffs.
Lars Eller B
One goal, one assist for Eller, who played just eight games in January. Eller has the skills and body to succeed and if management won’t send him down – just for the sake of more ice time and confidence-building – I guess we’ll have to be patient with him. He does impress when opponents try to out-muscle and intimidate him to no avail, and his no-reaction is the best reaction of all.
Benoit Pouliot B
Pouliot had three goals and one assist in January. He seems to be playing with a different edge, with some energy and passion.
Travis Moen B
Another quiet month for Moen, who still cannot score no matter how well positioned he is. However, winning battles along the boards and keeping opponents in check is valuable enough to keep him on the team.
Tom Pyatt C
Pyatt played only seven games in January, and recorded one assist. His speed and PK skills are superb, but he’s remained a mostly one-dimensional player. Disappointing, but perhaps with enough time his numbers will improve as well. His work ethic and attitude hasn’t changed, so that’s admirable.