Today is the second installment of the Habs players’ report cards, focusing on the forwards. Only those players who played at least six games or half of Montreal’s playoffs games were evaluated here.
Max Pacioretty – B+ : Max played well leading all Habs forwards in goals and points. Among his five goals, were one short handed goal and one power play goal. Factoring in a minor concussion
he suffered near the end of the season, he should be given a lot of credit for coming back and contributing to the level expected of the team’s best forward. Considering he suffered a concussion in game seventy nine of the season which knocked him out until the second game of the playoffs, it’s remarkable he did what he did. I believe his leadership qualities came through strongly.
Brendan Gallagher – B+ : The Habs version of the Energizer Bunny keeps on playing the same style every game, every shift. He truly maximizes the most of his small stature, taking more abuse in front of the net than any other Habs forward, and leading the team in the unofficial stat of cross checks received from the opposition. All of that and he managed five points to tie for second among forwards, including one game winning goal.
Tomas Plekanec – C- : The team’s defacto #1 center, seemed to play a fairly consistent defensive style in the post season. Having said that, his offensive production dropped somewhat with only four points in twelve games, when compared to his sixty points during all eight-two games in the regular seaason. Those points only ranked him fifth among all Canadiens forwards, on a team that was fairly anemic in terms of scoring goals. Plekanec suffered an uncharacteristic brain cramp turnover in game six against Tampa, which gave them the first goal of the game and seemed to deflate the team’s momentum of their previous two strong games. He’s still a good worker, but it’s arguable that on all other teams in the post season he wouldn’t represent a #1 center, and on many he wouldn’t be a #2 center either.
David Desharnais – D : Before the playoffs started I had thought that Desharnais would rise to the occasion, similar to last year’s performance. He wasn’t outstanding then managing a little better average than one point every two games, but this year his production really tumbled, with only three points in eleven games. Yes he did have some type of gastro intestinal bug that kept him out of one game in the Tampa series, and probably left him at less than 100% healthy for the next game he returned. But his lack of size really worked against him in both series in the playoffs, and looked very invisible.
Torrey Mitchell – B+ : Mitchell exceeded expectations of most Habs pundits and fans in the playoffs. His prowess in the faceoff circle in the defensive zone helped to keep veteran Manny Malhotra out of the lineup in the post season. He provided better defensive skills, while still managing to score a surprising five points in all twelve games. His performance certainly provides the GM with all the reason to get the Montreal-area athlete under contract before he becomes a UFA in July.
Alex Galchenyuk – C : There’s never a lack of controversy when it comes to Montreal and hockey. The biggest one of late appears to be whether Galchenyuk will ever be given a chance to play center, and if he isn’t at that position then is his potential ever going to be maximized? His coach obviously doesn’t believe so, and the GM said about as much at his end of season press conference. Alex was drafted at center with the Habs highest draft position [#3 overall] three years ago, and was the first center drafted that year. All fans have seen flashes of offensive talent from him from time to time. The post season was similar, as he showed the same from time to time, but not consistently enough to produce more. That’s not enough for the post season, especially for a top six forward albeit one that’s relegated to the wing.
P.A. Parenteau – C : There was even less expectation for Parenteau, as he had suffered a more serious concussion that knocked him out of twenty six regular season games, before being dropped into the lineup in the middle of the Ottawa series. His rust was very evident but more excusable than all of his teammates up front. Parenteau produced two points in his eight playoff games with the Habs; his only goal was a late third period game winner against Tampa. As a 31 year NHL veteran of 347 pro games, this was only the second year he’s played in the playoffs. When he was in the Habs lineup, he bounced up and down all four lines regularly which likely didn’t help him gain any traction in getting back into a NHL rhythm.
Lars Eller – C : Marc Bergein proclaimed that Eller was the “type of player who helps put you through the playoffs”. I believe that comment was made to help justify the four year contract during last year’s off season, after Eller scored an impressive 13 points in 17 games while mainly playing on the third line. However he appeared to wilt offensively during this year’s playoffs with a meagre three points in twelve games; his only goal was a nice short handed tally. His defensive play was good and his faceoff skills were very good. It’s tough to say if last post season’s offensive outburst was due to his winger, Rene Bourque.
Brandon Prust – C- : When Prust puts his mind to it he can be a very effective defensive player, adding some toughness to the team. Then there are those other moments like in the Tampa series, where he publicly ripped the referee who penalized him with a game misconduct that game. The comments he said the referee allegedly made to him set him off during a post game interview. I didn’t find this “character” player lived up to that reputation, one that his coach and GM have complimented him with several times. Prust has had a feud with Lightning goal Ben Bishop going back to last season, and he continued his chippy/dirty plays against the Tampa goalie to try and throw him off his game. When Prust is successful with this tactic it’s great. But when it didn’t work he just kept doing it again and again until the referee stepped in to put him in his place. He was fined by the league for these antics and I feel it left a black mark against the team. When Prust stuck to actually playing hockey he contributed four points for the Habs, which is above expectations for this 4th line player.
Dale Weise – B : Weise is another good effort winger, who does a decent job of grinding it out on one of the two bottom lines, while occasionally getting a boost up to a top line. When the latter occurs he’s usually successful with chipping in a timely goal or assist, and during this year’s playoffs he lived up to that production. Dale managed two goals and an assist, with one goal an overtime winner, and the other a game typing goal. Both goals were in the same game versus Ottawa.
Devante Smith-Pelly – B : DSP was traded for to provide the Habs more physical play and he did provide that. He was also touted as producing in the offseason, given he scored five goals for Anaheim during last year’s playoffs. Considering his defensive linemates he usually played with, his one goal and three points came close to most expectations of him for Montreal.
Jacob de la Rose – D : Given his rookie status as a 19 year old forward, it’s a bit understandable but disappointing that JDLR did not manage any points during the playoffs. He seemed more reluctant to play physically like he did during the regular season. To say he looked overwhelmed most shifts would not be inaccurate.