Given Montreal’s success in October, it should come as no surprise that there were no shortage of candidates when it came to voting for the HW 3 Stars. The Canadiens possess tremendous depth throughout the roster, and the votes paralleled this to a certain degree, as most of Montreal’s players earned at least a vote or two. Despite the diversity in voting, three Canadiens clearly stood out from the pack, and are your HW Stars for October.
1st Star: Carey Price
Price was the obvious choice for October’s First Star, especially after he received recognition from the NHL as their Second Star for the month. Even though Price’s statistics were tainted by a pair of sub-average performances in Western Canada, they were nonetheless impressive, and almost identical to the numbers that earned him the Vezina, Hart, Jennings and Lindsay trophies last season. Price’s dominance in net was a big part of the Canadiens setting a new franchise record for consecutive wins to start the season, and has fans and writers alike wondering if Price will be the first goalie to earn back-to-back MVP honours since Dominik Hasek. The only shadow cast on Price’s impressive month was the lower-body injury he suffered in Edmonton.
Stats: 9 GP, 7-2-0, 2.01 GAA, .936 SV%, 2 SO
2nd Star: Max Pacioretty
As the newly-appointed 29th captain in Montreal Canadiens history, Max Pacioretty began the 2015-16 in an impressive fashion, scoring on his first shot in the first game of the season. His 7 goals led the Canadiens, and his 11 points through 12 games had him tallying at almost a point-per-game rate in October. Pacioretty’s 200 foot, two-way game excellence was evident with a +11 rating, and he continued to churn out game-winning goals (2) as well as the most shots on the team (43). Although Pacioretty’s numbers cooled off as the month went on, his continued strong play drew the opposition’s best defenders, which created plenty of opportunistic matchups for Michel Therrien and his team.
Stats: 12 GP, 7G, 4A, 11P, +11 Rating
3rd Star: Tomas Plekanec
October was a great month for Tomas Plekanec. Not only did he lead the NHL’s number one team in scoring, Plekanec also signed a lucrative contract extension that will keep him in Montreal throughout the 2017-18 season. As it has often been the case, Plekanec started the season hot, and he was able to rekindle the chemistry with his line-mates from last season, Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher. In addition to leading Montreal in points, Plekanec was tied for the team lead in powerplay points (4), and he was a big part of the resurgence with the man advantage. Despite the depth up and down the roster and scoring contributions from all lines, Plekanec drew the toughest assignments, logging big minutes on both special teams.
Stats: 12 GP, 5G, 7A, 12P, +11 Rating
Honourable Mention: Torrey Mitchell
When Marc Bergevin acquired Torrey Mitchell from the Buffalo Sabres at the trade deadline last season, many fans were left feeling underwhelmed and questioned what good a small-ish 4th line center would do for the club. Not many are left wondering that this season, as the league’s arguably best 4th line is a huge reason Montreal is sitting at the top of the standings. Therrien has shown great trust in Mitchell and his line-mates, and has pitted them against the opposition’s top lines on many nights. If Mitchell was only succeeding in that shut-down capacity, it would be an achievement in itself, but he is also finding a way to contribute offensively. His 8 points in October were more than half of the points that he tallied in 65 games last season; at this rate, it’s almost a given that he will shatter his personal record of 23 points.
Stats: 12GP, 5G, 3A, 8P, +5 Rating