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The halfway point of the 2013-14 season has come and gone and despite their
struggles and the negativity surrounding the team, the Habs find themselves
comfortably in a playoff position and right in the thick of the battle for home
ice.  While the goaltending was still strong, the defence had some issues
in the second quarter of the season, resulting in some lower grades than they
received in the first 20-game stretch.

Notes: Players must have played in at least 25% of Montreal’s games (5 out
of 20) to receive a grade.  Stats are as of games played through December


Peter Budaj: B-: After being pretty much lights out early on,
Montreal’s backup has come back down to earth.  Budaj had some issues with
some untimely, soft goals that he’d like to have back which is something we
haven’t seen since early last year.  That said, he keeps the team in almost
every game and that’s what your backup is supposed to do.

2nd Quarter Stats: 6 GP, 2-2-1 record, 2.46 GAA, .907 SV%, 0 SO
Season Stats:
10 GP, 5-3-1 record, 2.05 GAA, .923 SV%, 1 SO

Carey Price: A-: Like Budaj, Price’s numbers came down to more
realistic levels in the second quarter of the season but they were still above
average.  The team had a long stretch of games allowing two or fewer goals,
most of which came on Price’s back.  With the defence spiralling, it will
be on him to hold the fort until they can get back on track.

2nd Quarter Stats: 15 GP, 11-3-1 record, 2.26 GAA, .923 SV%, 1 SO
Season Stats:
32 GP, 18-11-3 record, 2.15 GAA, .930 SV%, 2 SO


Francis Bouillon: C: Bouillon was used in more of an ideal role during
this stretch.  Instead of being an every game regular, he got spot duty and
was better off for it.  His defensive game improved, fatigue was less of a
concern, and he ate some minutes while the top guys were resting.  That’s
about as good as it’s going to get from him.

2nd Quarter Stats: 9 GP, 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point, even rating, 0
PIMS, 14 hits, 15 blocks, 9 shots
Season Stats:
30 GP, 0 goals, 3 assists, 3 points, -10 rating, 13 PIMS, 38
hits, 47 blocks, 22 shots

Raphael Diaz: C: The Olympic-bound blueliner is supposed to be
providing some secondary offence but that has yet to materialize.  As a
result, he lost a lot of his PP time (to a longer-shifted Subban) and his
confidence was taking a dip throughout December.  I think the Sochi games
will get him going but that’s a long ways away, he needs to rediscover his game
before then.

2nd Quarter Stats: 20 GP, 0 goals, 4 assists, 4 points, -5 rating, 2
PIMS, 11 hits, 37 blocks, 17 shots
Season Stats:
41 GP, 0 goals, 11 assists, 11 points, -3 rating, 10 PIMS, 17
hits, 89 blocks, 36 shots

Alexei Emelin: C-: For the first few weeks after returning, Emelin was
a big contributor to the Habs’ winning streak.  Unfortunately for him and
the team, his lack of conditioning due to missing training camp became an issue. 
He looked slow, both in foot speed and reaction time, and has become a liability
and a minus machine in recent weeks.  Part of his struggles likely stem
from playing his off-side but simply put, he must be better.

2nd Quarter Stats: 20 GP, 0 goals, 4 assists, 4 points, -8 rating, 31
PIMS, 63 hits, 32 blocks, 17 shots
Season Stats:
21 GP, 0 goals, 4 assists, 4 points, -8 rating, 31 PIMS, 66
hits, 34 blocks, 18 shots

Josh Gorges: B-: Although he too had his struggles in December, Gorges
was one of the few consistent blueliners on a game-to-game basis.  He
particularly made his mark shorthanded where he was a key cog on the Habs’
improving penalty kill while continuing to throw himself at as many pucks as

2nd Quarter Stats: 19 GP, 0 goals, 3 assists, 3 points, +6 rating, 6
PIMS, 21 hits, 53 blocks, 13 shots
Season Stats:
40 GP, 1 goal, 6 assists, 7 points, +7 rating, 10 PIMS, 51
hits, 107 blocks, 25 shots

Andrei Markov: B: The pairing of Markov and Subban was the Habs’ best
in this stretch of games.  The Russian rearguard played well in his own end
for the most part although like everyone else, tapered off towards the end of
last month.  One concern I have with Markov is that his aggression
offensively has been fading of late.  For a team that relies on its
blueline for a lot of scoring, he needs to get that part of his game going

2nd Quarter Stats: 20 GP, 1 goal, 10 assists, 11 points, +1 rating, 14
PIMS, 8 hits, 43 blocks, 27 shots
Season Stats:
41 GP, 3 goals, 19 assists, 22 points, +8 rating, 24 PIMS, 23
hits, 93 blocks, 67 shots

Douglas Murray: C+: Murray was brought in to be a physical presence
that can clear the net.  We didn’t see too much of it early on but he did
have a stretch recently where he played several games in a row and did okay,
albeit still in limited minutes.  Given that several others underperformed
over the last 20 games, he gets a better grade for at least living up to (low)

2nd Quarter Stats: 12 GP, 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 points, -6 rating, 5
PIMS, 39 hits, 26 blocks, 7 shots
Season Stats:
21 GP, 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 points, -11 rating, 9 PIMS, 64
hits, 52 blocks, 9 shots

P.K. Subban: B: Not surprisingly, he cooled off offensively after a
torrid start to the year but his defensive game also took some steps in the
right direction, particularly with Markov.  As a result, we saw a ‘quieter’
Subban for a good chunk of this quarter.  The next step for him is
maintaining that d-zone stability while getting involved in the rush a bit more
often as the pendulum of when to press and when to stay back may have swung back
a tad too far in the stay back direction.

2nd Quarter Stats: 20 GP, 3 goals, 9 assists, 12 points, +6 rating, 21
PIMS, 41 hits, 23 blocks, 48 shots
Season Stats:
41 GP, 6 goals, 23 assists, 29 points, +10 rating, 41 PIMS, 66
hits, 74 blocks, 120 shots