The Habs hit the halfway point of the season earlier this month, so it’s time
for our second quarter report cards. We start with the goaltenders and
defencemen and it should come as little to no surprise that one of the goalies
takes home the top mark. Who else was worthy of a high grade?
Carey Price – Grade: A
Stats: Games 17, Wins 10, Losses 6, OT Losses 1, 1 Shutout, GAA 1.89, Save Pct .938
Season Comments: Price has been a strong Vezina candidate with his play this season. He started a little shaky at the
beginning, but has consistently played well for most of the rest of the games. Outside of a misplayed
puck in one game that comes to mind, he has been rock steady in the nets for Montreal. For the few times the Canadiens have been badly beaten, he has not been the direct cause of those losses, and for many of their wins,
his big saves have frustrated the opposition. He’s been the biggest reason the Canadiens are near the top of the
Eastern Conference for most of this season.
Dustin Tokarski – Grade: B+
Stats: Games 3, Wins 1, Losses 1, OT Losses 1, GAA 2.86, Save Pct .907
Season Comments: Tokarski’s rise to the backup position was somewhat of a surprise given that Peter Budaj was a popular
veteran who held that role the past three seasons. However, Tokarski’s outstanding playoff performances in the semi
finals during last season’s playoffs helped prove he could be a more reliable backup. Management took a bit of a
gamble in giving him this position and he’s proven it was the correct move. Tokarski seems content as a backup and
more than competent with handling the few assignments he gets, usually playing the second game of a back-to-back
Andrei Markov – Grade: A-
2nd Quarter Stats: 20 Games, 4 Goals, 7 Assists, +6, 10 PIM, 28 Shots
Season Comments: Markov continues to be “mon general” for the Habs, as coach Therrien is fond of calling him. He’s a
consistent performer in all three zones on the ice, and plays in all situations. This season his ice time has been
slightly decreased, with his usual partner (P.K. Subban) slightly ahead of him. He’s on pace for a 40-point season,
which is about what is expected from him. It will be interesting to see if he can continue to stay injury free and
still deliver this high level of play through the end of the season, and beyond.
P.K. Subban – Grade: B+
2nd Quarter Stats: 20 Games, 3 Goals, 11 Assists, +9, 22 PIM, 40 Shots
Comments: Subban is arguably one of the team’s two biggest stars, and at times he rises to that billing, and at
times this season he has seemed too unfocused. He has been undisciplined at times which have cost his team, and
given less effort when expected when the Canadiens are badly behind in a game. He is still a potential game breaker
for the Habs, and the coaches have given him more leeway this season for the times he makes mistakes, compared to the
past when he’s been benched for his more obvious blunders. Perhaps the weight of a letter on his jersey, or the huge
bump in salary are contributors to Subban not quite hitting his potential so far this season.
Sergei Gonchar – Grade: B+
Stats: 20 Games, 1 Goal, 6 Assists, +5, 10 PIMS, 19 Shots
Comments: Gonchar missed the first month of the season due to an ankle injury, and was traded to Montreal
three games with the Stars lineup in November. It appeared that Gonchar was expected to be a mentor for
Alexei Emelin and they spent most of their time paired together in 5-on-5 situations. For some reason the results
were not there for the two Russian defenders. However, since Gonchar has been paired with Nathan Beaulieu the past few
weeks, the two have developed a strong chemistry quickly and helped to solidify the Habs #3/4 pairing quite well.
Gonchar can still make a good first pass from his own zone to spring the offence. His initial presence on the Habs
seemed to inspire the team’s lacklustre powerplay for a few games, before it returned to mediocrity. He has the
talent to be a difference maker but isn’t relied on it as a top pairing. Given he’s had 19 seasons in the NHL, it’s
hoped he can continue to play his role and still maintain that level when the postseason begins.
Nathan Beaulieu – Grade: B
2nd Quarter Stats: 12 Games, 0 Goals, 2 Assists, +6, 2 PIM, 11 Shots
Comments: Beaulieu started the season with the Habs, then was up and down from the farm team before hitting his
stride the past few weeks. Earlier in the year he seemed to lack some confidence at times, especially after making
an occasional mistake. After being paired with Sergei Gonchar, his play has really solidified. Nathan is a great
skater, and he’s choosing when to pinch and when to rush the puck a little more cautiously recently, which is a sign
of maturity. His defensive positioning has improved also, and although the offence is not there so far, it should
improve with time. He’s not expected to be a big point producer at this time, but if he can continue to play reliably
in his own zone then the offence will increase.
Tom Gilbert – Grade: B-
2nd Quarter Stats: 18 Games, 1 Goals, 3 Assists, -2, 6 PIM, 15 Shots
Comments: Gilbert was the first player the Habs signed as a UFA in the offseason. There was some analysis after the
move was made that it was done because he’s a strong possession player. He has not exactly lived up to that billing
so far, but he has not been terrible most games either. He just seems to be one of those players who leaves you
wanting more, and that label seems to have followed him from when he played for Edmonton, Minnesota and Florida.
Alexei Emelin – Grade: C-
2nd Quarter Stats: 20 Games, 1 Goal, 4 Assists, -5, 18 PIM, 13 Shots
Comments: Emelin has been wildly inconsistent so far this season, and seems less like the big hitting defenceman
that Marc Bergevin signed to a long-term contract. In the past Emelin was able
to punish the opposition with clean, open ice hits that surprised unsuspecting
forwards. Since his knee injury in April 2013, those types of hits have dried up
relatively speaking. He still checks the opposition and usually leads the Habs
defence in that category, but the punishing style is no longer there. That
unique skill is gone for some unknown reason. Speculation is it’s due
to the Habs coaching, or because of the knee injury, or perhaps a combination of both. It needs to return to help Emelin become more of a game changer, since his defensive play and puck handling have been subpar.
Mike Weaver – Grade: C-
2nd Quarter Stats: 7 Games, 0 Goals, 0 Assists, -2, 0 PIM, 0 Shots
Comments: As a trade deadline pick up by the Habs last season, Weaver fit in well as a shot blocking specialist who
can play on the penalty kill. He was re-signed in the offseason and started the season as a #5/6 player in the depth
chart. His role continued this season, and as an undersized defenceman he’s careful about picking his spots but
usually makes good decisions with and without the puck. He suffered a concussion in the second week of December,
which kept him out of the lineup for a few games. Since that time the improved play of Nathan Beaulieu has made
Weaver a healthy scratch.