The playoff race is so tight that what seemed like a sure grip on 6th is suddenly slipping away for the Montreal Canadiens. They are still currently in 6th place, with at least three teams hot on their heels. The Habs started off March with four nice wins, the last of which was a 4-1 beat down of the Bruins – and also the game in which they lost Max Pacioretty in a bizarre, frightening and controversial Zdeno Chara hit. They lost the next game and were inconsistent the rest of the month. There was also a worrisome three-game streak where Montreal was unable to score a single goal. The month finished with 8 wins and 7 losses and a shaky-but-somewhat-stable playoff spot.
Carey Price B
Pulled in three road games this past month – in which his GAA was 9.33 – Price was at times brilliant and there were nights when he was the only player who showed up. Then there were times when we thought we were seeing the Price of last year – easy-to-beat, looking at his defenceman (rightfully so) and shaky. This can be attributed to the fact that he is playing almost every single game – and he has to pitch a perfect game to give the Habs a chance to win. Playing behind a decimated defence does not help his numbers. Having said that, with ten days left in March, he was in the conversation for the Hart and Vezina trophies. Price is the unquestionable MVP on the Canadiens this season, so a few lousy games will not mar his overall excellent play.
Alex Auld B-
Auld started one game in March, against Minnesota, in which the Habs coincidentally had an offensive explosion and tallied a week’s worth of goals in a single night (no joke, seeing as they went without a goal for the next three games). The other three games in which he made an appearance in relief of Price he was mediocre.
Hal Gill A
Gill had two goals in two consecutive games to start the month off: the game-winning goal against Florida and another one against Tampa Bay. Gill is playing heroic minutes and doing his best to hold the fort, and gives the team an excellent shutdown pair in Gill and his D partner P.K. Subban.
Roman Hamrlik A
Hamlik gets an A here for scoring the biggest goal of the season to break an almost-200 minute scoreless streak that had Habs fans worldwide tearing their hair out. He is also playing way too many minutes and doing a decent job. He led the team in blocked shots with an amazing 49.
James Wisniewski A
Production was up in March for Wisniewski – 4 goals, 6 assists. While not the strongest defensively, his offensive skills – on an offensive-challenged D – have been huge for the Canadiens.
Paul Mara A
What a pleasant surprise Mara has been. Solid on defence and standing up fiercely for his teammates, he adds some sorely-needed grit on the back end.
P.K. Subban B
Another successful month for Subban: 4 goals and 3 assists. Subban had a beautiful hat trick against Minnesota which really ramped up his confidence. Towards the end of the month, the coach finally realized that PK’s skills on the first wave of the PP were invaluable. I don’t know what took so long to figure this out, but hey, better late than never. One minus on Subban’s part: he takes way too many penalties, which adds unnecessary minutes to the penalty-killers and drags down the team.
Brent Sopel B
Sopel played 8 games in March after returning from a hand injury and his play was quite mediocre. I expected a lot more from a Stanley Cup winning defenceman.
Yannick Weber C
Weber did not have a single point in March and was dressed for all of 5 games. While he has improved overall he has obviously not earned the coach’s confidence to merit playing at crunch time.
Alexandre Picard C
Picard was dressed for just 6 games in March and had one assist. He was otherwise not noticeable.
Max Pacioretty A+
What a disappointing month for Pacioretty. He was the team’s best forward – until he was brutally injured by Chara. I was – along with all Habs fans – extremely relieved with the news of his quick recovery. While at the time, after an unconscious stint on the ice, we questioned if he would ever walk again – let alone play hockey – it is so encouraging that he is now skating. I look forward to his return, in good time.
Andrei Kostitsyn A
For three months running Kostitsyn has been playing very well. He had five goals (one of them an empty-netter) and four assists. He also chipped in with 21 hits, second-highest on the team. While not perfect every game, most nights he is a force on the ice, using physical play to make a difference.
David Desharnais A
Two goals and seven assists while playing limited minutes is very impressive for this rookie. The best stat: he was only -1 on the month. He might not be the best defensive forward for the Habs, but he is certainly not the weakest.
Tomas Plekanec A-
Plekanec was injured and missed a few games and he hasn’t looked right since.
He had 1 goal and 5 assists in March but was unable to score any big goals or
make a real difference on the team. He was also an atrocious -7, a stat he
shared with Cammalleri. Like Pacioretty earlier, a disappointing month for Plekanec, who will hopefully improve as we approach the playoffs.
Mathieu Darche B
Darche only played 4 games in March, but continues to come up with big goals – his only one for the month was a game-winner. Contrary to his play in February, since coming back from injury, Darche has worked relentlessly hard to create offence down low. His efforts are being rewarded.
Brian Gionta B
The captain had eight points in March, divided evenly between goals and
assists. He had 47 shots on goal, leading the team in that category. He’s
trying, that’s for sure, however, overall, I have to say I was not impressed
with the captain, especially during the three-game drought.
Mike Cammalleri B
Cammalleri has been very slow rounding into shape and has yet to recapture his scoring touch. In the later games of March he improved, and will hopefully be a force in the playoffs. He had 2 goals and 6 assists in March and the second-highest SOG with 38.
Travis Moen B-
Moen led the team with 34 hits in March and added three goals and four assists to his stat totals. It was his highest scoring month in a while.
Scott Gomez C
He’s started his usual late season and playoff acceleration, however he left it quite late this year. He has improved, but he’s not on a point-per-game pace like he was during last year’s push. Gomez has also suffered in the faceoff circle. He leaves a lot wanting and had a very disappointing season. Hopefully, he can pick it up in the post-season.
Jeff Halpern C
Possibly playing hurt, Halpern had one goal and two assists in March. He was not very noticeable, and did not make much of a difference.
Lars Eller C
A so-so month for Eller, who has seen his ice time slashed for long stretches. He had three goals – one of which was a GWG – and two assists. He is a work-in-progress, with huge potential.
Benoit Pouliot D
Five assists – no goals – for Pouliot, who continues to be invisible. I feel he is really superfluous on this team, because aside from occasional flashes of talent, he coasts along not really playing badly, but certainly not up to his potential. Disappointing.
Tom Pyatt D
Playing in nine games, Pyatt had one goal – the last one in the 8-1 laugher against Minnesota. He is reliable on the PK but otherwise cannot create enough offensively to merit a permanent spot in the lineup.