With the Winter Olympics impacting the NHL schedule in February, the
Canadiens played a mere 7 games, going 4-1-2 over that span. As a result
of the shortened month, we’ve foregone the voting for February’s 3 Stars, and
simply compiled what we believe to be the best candidates over that time.
First Star – Carey Price: Although Carey deserves accolades
simply from his Olympic Gold performance in Sochi, he was named HW’s first star
without taking that impressive performance (5-0, 0.59 GAA, .972 SV%) into consideration.
That being said,
it was likely his play leading up to the Olympics that led to Canada’s Head
Coach, Mike Babcock, selecting Price over an established international
goaltender like Roberto Luongo. Price’s performance in February was
a strong reason as to why the Canadiens maintained their grip on a playoff
position, as he was practically flawless every night.
Second Star – Max Pacioretty: After a slow start to the 2013-14
season, Max Pacioretty has been a consistent offensive threat, and February was
no exception to this rule. Pacioretty led all Canadiens in goals,
powerplay points, shots on goal and he had one of the game-winning goals.
Pacioretty recorded a hat-trick against the Vancouver Canucks, giving Pacioretty
his second 3-goal game of the year. Montreal’s fortunes seem directly
connected to those of Pacioretty; the Canadiens are 18-2 when Pacioretty records
at least one goal.
Third Star – David Desharnais: As it is so often the case, when
Pacioretty is doing well, so seems to be his little line-mate; however, a case
could be made that this month, Desharnais may have played more of the catalyst
role for the duo. Although critics will never fail to point out
Desharnais’ deficiencies, he produced produced at a point-per-game, temporarily
filling one of the requisites of a number one centerman, and continually created
offensive chances. Desharnais led all Canadiens in points and
went 1 for 1 in the shootout.
HM – Ryan White: It isn’t very often that a 4th liner makes this list,
but White’s spot is well-earned. Returning to action after missing 14
games with an injury, White injected some energy and physicality into the
line-up, and the Canadiens won all 3 games leading up to the Olympic break.
White earned 3rd star honours in his first game back from injury (a 2-0 win over
the Calgary Flames) and then impressively scored goals in the next two
back-to-back games. This was the first time that White had tallied goals
in consecutive games; given that he has a grand total of 5 goals in his career,
this will likely be the only time this occurs.