With the Stanley Cup Playoffs just around the corner, it’s hard to be excited about what happened in March. Nevertheless, the Canadiens wouldn’t be where they were without the success that they had this last critical month, and some players certainly deserve recognition for their efforts. As it has been all season long, Montreal’s strength came from a team-wide effort, but with certain players leading the charge.
First Star: Carey Price – It’d be so easy to cut and paste everything that has been written about Carey this season, because nothing has changed. He continued to dominate the league in all goaltending categories and was quite often the most significant reason that the Canadiens emerged on a nightly basis. March was no exception to these tendencies, and it’s a testament to how impressive Price’s season has been, when an “off” month still boasts a save percentage of .935.
Stats: 12 GP – 5W – 5L – 2OTL – 2.08 GAA – 0.935 SV% – 3 SO
Second Star: Max Pacioretty – As Montreal’s lone source of offense on some nights, it’s become habitual for Pacioretty to follow Carey Price on this list. March proved no different from the other months, as Max led the Canadiens in most categories. He topped all Habs in goals scored, plus/minus, game-winning goals and shots on net. Had he remained healthy throughout the remainder of the season, Pacioretty would have most likely threatened the 40-goal plateau for the second consecutive season.
Stats: 15 GP – 7G – 4A – 11P – +3 Rating – 8 PIM – 56 SOG
Third Star: Tomas Plekanec – With 11 points on the month, Tomas Plekanec kept pace with Montreal’s point-leader, Max Pacioretty, as the Canadiens strove to improve their playoff positioning. Although Plekanec is typically overlooked as a chief contributor to Montreal’s successes, some could argue that he’s the “glue” that holds the Canadiens together. Despite lacking some of the qualities that a prototypical “Number One Center” possesses (i.e., size and the ability to record more than a point per game), Plekanec continually plays well against the league’s best and logs some of the toughest minutes by any Montreal forward. In March, Plekanec demonstrated that even though he plays a 200-foot game, he’s still able to hit the score-sheet when the mood strikes.
Stats: 15GP – 3G – 8A – 11P – Plus 2 Rating – 6 PIM – 41 SOG
Honourable Mention: Lars Eller – When the trade deadline passed, and Lars Eller remained a Montreal Canadien, you could almost see a weight lifted off of the young Dane’s shoulders. Seemingly since October, Eller had been mentioned in trade rumours ad nauseum, and when paired with disappointing point totals, couch psychiatrists everywhere were diagnosing Lars with cripplingly-low self-esteem. It is most heartening to see Eller starting to play up to his potential last month, and his timing couldn’t be better with the playoffs looming.
Stats: 15GP – 3G – 4A – 7P – Minus 1 Rating – 6 PIM – 36 SOG