HabsWorld.net -- 

Montreal’s offence got off to a relatively strong start to the season,
averaging just under three goals per game in the first quarter of the year. 
The Habs’ attack so far has been balanced with seven players averaging at least
a half a point per game compared to just four doing so last year.  Our
first quarter grades conclude with a closer look at how all of the forwards have
played so far.

Stats are as of games played through Tuesday, February 12th.

Colby Armstrong: C-: It’s safe to say that he hasn’t and isn’t going
to re-discover the scoring touch that eluded him in his days with the Maple
Leafs but Armstrong has been useful in other areas most nights.  He has
played reasonably well on the penalty kill and is developing some chemistry with
Eller on a fourth line that is becoming surprisingly more offensive minded by
the game.

Stats: 12 GP, 0 goals 1 assist, even rating, 6 PIMS, 12 SOG, 14 hits, 6 blocks

Rene Bourque: B: Despite his struggles last year, he was going to be
counted on to be a consistent top-six scorer and Bourque has done just that this
season.  He is using his size much more effectively and is regularly
driving the net with a purpose.  That’s the player the Habs were hoping
he’d be when they traded for him last season.

Stats: 12 GP, 3 goals, 4 assists, -1 rating, 22 PIMS, 34 SOG, 18 hits, 4 blocks

Erik Cole: C: Yes, Cole has struggled considerably at the offensive
end this season but to his credit, he has stepped up his game physically. 
He has the reputation of being a slow starter and his skating looks a step slow
as well.  He needs to get out of his funk sooner than later but he hasn’t
been a total waste this year either as some suggest.

Stats: 12 GP, 2 goals, 2 assists, -1 rating, 10 PIMS, 28 SOG, 29 hits, 3 blocks

David Desharnais: C-: The only element of his game that carried over
into this season is his unwillingness to shoot.  His intensity level and
attention to detail have been inconsistent and he hasn’t been the catalyst for
his linemates like we all hoped he’d be able to be again. 

Stats: 12 GP, 2 goals, 3 assists, -6 rating, 12 PIMS, 13 SOG, 3 hits, 7 blocks

Lars Eller: C+: After landing in Michel Therrien’s dog house early on,
Eller has done well not only in terms of generating offence from the fourth line
but also in terms of earning Therrien’s trust.  Eller is back on the
penalty kill and is beginning to take faceoffs more often (although that may be
a by-product of the fact that the other centres are simply terrible at the dot). 
His physical game has really stepped up early on as well.

Stats: 10 GP, 1 goal, 4 assists, even rating, 6 PIMS, 22 SOG, 19 hits, 4 blocks

Alex Galchenyuk: B+: The Habs’ 1st rounder got off to a terrific (and
unsustainable) start to the season, and has shown that he is ready to play at this
level.  However, he has tailed off somewhat in recent games which is
understandable for any rookie.  All in all though, he is making the most of
the sheltered minutes he has received so far and should soon see his ice time
increase a bit.

Stats: 12 GP, 1 goal, 6 assists, +6 rating, 4 PIMS, 18 SOG, 2 hits, 3 blocks

Brendan Gallagher: A: After being a healthy scratch in the opener,
Gallagher has been arguably the most pleasant surprise of the early season. 
He is probably the most aggressive player on the ice, doesn’t back down from the
physical play (he instigates it more often than not), and has shown himself to
be a reliable scorer as well.  I think it will be a while before he sits

Stats: 11 GP, 4 goals, 2 assists, +5 rating, 15 PIMS, 24 SOG, 23 hits, 4 blocks

Brian Gionta: B-: Statistically he isn’t off to a bad start to the
year but I think most would agree he has had the lowest impact on his line. 
The captain, as usual, hasn’t shied away from shooting the puck but at times has
picked bad angles to shoot from which has quashed some scoring opportunities. 
If he could pick and choose his spots better, I think his line could have even
more success.

Stats: 12 GP, 3 goals, 3 assists, -1 rating, 2 PIMS, 31 SOG, 16 hits, 4 blocks

Travis Moen: D+: His role has diminished somewhat this season (and
that’s a good thing) but Moen hasn’t adapted well to it.  When he was at
his best he was playing with a high level of aggression but for the most part
this year his play has been rather passive.  He has played better in recent
games with Eller and Armstrong which hopefully can carry over into the next

Stats: 11 GP, 1 goal, 1 assist, even rating, 14 PIMS, 8 SOG, 14 hits, 6 blocks

Max Pacioretty: C+: Although he still hasn’t managed to get a goal
this season, last years’ top scorer has had some good moments but as was the
case with his linemates, he needs to be more productive.  He’s still doing
the little things to put himself in goal scoring situations, I suspect it’s only
a matter of time before he gets one.

Stats: 8 GP, 0 goals, 6 assists, -2 rating, 12 PIMS, 25 SOG, 11 hits, 3 blocks

Tomas Plekanec: A-: He and Bourque have developed some instant
chemistry this year while most nights Plekanec is the Habs’ best defensive
forward.  Basically, it’s same old, same old, even with his poor faceoff
play.  Beyond that, he just needs to keep doing what he has been doing.

Stats: 12 GP, 6 goals, 5 assists, -3 rating, 8 PIMS, 38 SOG, 2 hits, 3 blocks

Brandon Prust: C+: He has held his own being used in an offensive
role, even if the scoring numbers aren’t there to back it up.  His simple
style works well on a line with a pair of rookies and as we’ve all seen he is
willing to stick up for his teammates as well.  He also has played well
with extended penalty kill minutes.

Stats: 12 GP, 1 goal, 2 assists, +4 rating, 69 PIMS, 11 SOG, 23 hits, 6 blocks

Ryan White: D+: Beyond his repeated errors for going over the edge,
White has actually been a useful player for the Habs.  He has done well at
the faceoff dot, plays a physical style, and can log some minutes shorthanded,
all of which are areas the Habs could use him in.  But he’s going to have a
hard time re-earning the trust of the coaches as his penalty trouble has made
him a liability.

Stats: 7 GP, 1 goal, 0 assists, +1 rating, 46 PIMS, 9 SOG, 15 hits, 1 block