What is there to say that hasn’t already been said? The Canadiens got off to a franchise record start and spent most of the first quarter of the season as the top team in the NHL. Fans and pundits alike are finally considering the team as a serious Stanley Cup contender. While they have slipped slightly from the top position in the NHL they still sat well in front in the Atlantic division at the one quarter mark with 15 wins, 4 losses, and 2 overtime losses for 32 points. The team is atop the NHL is goal scoring and is top five in penalty killing and (finally) the power play. The team seems not to have any real weaknesses with the possible exception of right wing. So far, the only bump in the road is Carey Price’s mysterious recurring lower body injury, but that gave the team the opportunity show that they are more than Carey Price and a bunch of scrubs and they responded in the best way possible going 7-2-2 with Mike Condon in net.
Players must have played in at least five games to receive a grade.
Max Pacioretty A+: Max displayed his extraordinary healing ability as he returned in time for the first game which was also his first as the new Captain of Les Canadiens. He showed instant chemistry with Plekanec and Gallagher and managed to score on his first shot of the season for the second year in a row. Still the Canadiens’ leading scorer, he plays an impeccable defensive game and is always a threat to score on the penalty kill. From leading by example on the ice to standing up for his teammates (Semin) with the media, Pacioretty is doing an exemplary job as captain.
1st Quarter Stats: 21 GP, 10 goals, 10 assists, 20 points, +10 rating, 8 PIMS, 84 shots
Brendan Gallagher A+: Gallagher has not backed off a bit to start the new season. His hustle and non-stop compete level remain the same but his maturity and increased offensive production has him being mentioned as a strong candidate for Team Canada for next year’s World Cup. Gallagher continues to drive opposition goalies and defencemen throughout the league insane and continues to pay the price in order to give the Canadiens the net presence they need. Unfortunately, he won’t be heard from much in the second quarter after fracturing two fingers while blocking a shot.
1st Quarter Stats: 21 GP, 9 goals, 10 assists, 19 points, + 7 rating, 14 PIMS, 70 shots
Tomas Fleischmann A+: Most fans were happily surprised when Bergevin was able to sign the man known as “Flash”. In addition to playing an excellent two-way game, Fleischmann has scored timely goals and impressed with his hockey sense and work ethic.
1st Quarter Stats: 21 GP, 6 goals, 7 assists, 13 points, +8 rating, 14 PIMS, 40 shots
Tomas Plekanec A+: The much-maligned Plekanec has spent a good chunk of the early season as Montreal’s leading point getter and while his scoring touch usually cools at some point during the season, he is still always an elite penalty killer who checks the opposition to distraction (such as David Krejci of the Bruins)..
1st Quarter Stats: 21 GP, 7 goals, 15 assists, 22 points, +10 rating, 8 PIMS, 49 shots
Dale Weise A: Weise has been on fire on the line with Desharnais and Fleischmann and is already within one goal of equalling his career high set last season. While it is unlikely he will be able to maintain this scoring pace, he is still a highly effective forechecker who doesn’t hesitate to lay the body.
1st Quarter Stats: 21 GP, 9 goals, 5 assists, 14 points, +8 rating, 10 PIMS, 52 shots
David Desharnais A: Desharnais is outstanding as a “third line” centre. Away from the opposition’s top line he has escaped Pacioretty’s shadow. He hockey sense and passing ability is driving the success of Weise and Fleischmann and they continue to improve while being Montreal’s most consistent line.
1st Quarter Stats: 21 GP, 6 goals, 10 assists, 16 points, +7 rating, 4 PIMS, 31 shots
Alex Galchenyuk A-: Galchenyuk is finally a full-time centre and is playing an excellent two-way game. Although his offensive production is lower than many hoped he continues to dazzle with his skills and work ethic. The goals will come.
1st Quarter Stats: 21 GP, 2 goals, 10 assists, 12 points, +3 rating, 6 PIMS, 42 shots
Torrey Mitchell B+: Mitchell is an excellent penalty killer, blocks shots, wins key faceoffs and plays an all-round solid game. So far this season, before his unfortunate injury, he has also added goal scoring to his list with 5 goals and 5 assists. Will he be able to rediscover this torrid scoring pace when he returns?
1st Quarter Stats: 20 GP, 5 goals, 5 assists, 10 points, +5 rating, 22 PIMS, 23 shots
Lars Eller B-: Eller is a lightning rod for disagreement among Canadiens’ fans. He tantalizes with occasional bursts of brilliance but soon lapses back into inconsistent offensive production. The debate of “Is he a top six forward or a third-liner?” seems to be swinging firmly towards third line status for Eller even as he is a constant on the wing with the nominal second line with Galchenyuk.
1st Quarter Stats: 21 GP, 6 goals, 1 assists, 7 points, even rating, 8 PIMS, 39 shots
Brian Flynn B-: Flynn has been effective on the fourth line. He is able to use his speed to pressure the opposition, is an excellent forechecker and puts out a good effort every shift. What he has not been able to do is contribute much offensively which is why someone with his speed and hockey sense is on the 4th line in the first place.
1st Quarter Stats: 21 GP, 2 goals, 3 assists, 5 points, +2 rating, 2 PIMS, 36 shots
Devante Smith-Pelly C+: Smith-Pelly seemed to struggle with the pace of the Eastern Conference last year when he first arrived in Montreal. He has obviously put in a ton of work on his skating and fitness during the offseason and is quicker with better overall speed this season. Now he is playing the physical game that was expected from him when he arrived from Anaheim. A tenacious forechecker he punishes opponents physically and he is generating scoring chances but didn’t have much puck luck in burying them.
1st Quarter Stats: 21 GP, 1 goals, 4 assists, 5 points, 0 rating, 12 PIMS, 27 shots
Paul Byron C: Byron played 11 games in the first quarter after being picked up on waivers from Calgary and he has added a lot of speed and energy to the 4th line while scoring two short-handed goals. His scoring is limited, but he only took five shots.
1st Quarter Stats: 9 GP, 2 goals, 1 assists, 3 points, 3 rating, 0 PIMS, 5 shots
Alex Semin F: Semin was a somewhat controversial signing as many doubted his ability to rediscover his scoring touch after a wretched year in Carolina that resulted in his buyout. Semin has not showed much so far in his limited stint in Montreal. He has been benched and despite having a rocket of a shot he rarely used it and has almost as many penalty minutes as shots. While signing him was the kind of low risk potential high reward deal that Bergevin is becoming known for, it seems unlikely that he is going to thrive with the Habs.
1st Quarter Stats: 15 GP, 1 goals, 3 assists, 4 points, +1 rating, 12 PIMS, 18 shots