November marked the first month without the services of Carey Price (for the most part), and HabsWorld readers were forced to cast their votes elsewhere for the first time in a very long time. Fortunately, Montreal’s successes and considerable depth up and down the roster provided plenty of candidates for significant performances this month. As a result, we have a new reigning champion; here are the 3 HW Stars for November 2015.
1st Star: Alex Galchenyuk
To say expectations have been high for Alex Galchenyuk since he was drafted 3rd overall in 2012 would be an understatement. For many, Galchenyuk would correct the decades-long absence of a legitimate “big #1 center”, and this idea only gained momentum in the off-season when Michel Therrien announced that “Chucky” would be moving from the wing to his preferred position at center. Although Galchenyuk isn’t playing top-line minutes, on many occasions he certainly looked elite, dominating in the face-off circle (55.3%) and creating plays out of nothing. One must consider if Alex might have had more success had Lars Eller’s game been more productive or if he’d had a stable right-winger; although, he and Sven Andrighetto are starting to show some chemistry and they play compatible styles. Even with all those areas for improvement, Galchenyuk co-led the team in goals (5), had the highest plus/minus (+7) and his 5 power-play points were a main reason why Montreal has been having such success with the man-advantage. Galchenyuk’s 5-game point streak resulted in him being selected as the NHL’s 3rd star for the final week of November.
Stats: 13 GP, 5G, 5A, 10P, +7 Rating
2nd Star: Mike Condon
I don’t think that anyone would have predicted that Mike Condon would make this list when the season started back in October. Playing behind the NHL’s reigning MVP and top goalie, Carey Price, meant that Condon would likely only see action in back-to-back situations, and even that ice-time wasn’t guaranteed. But as we all know too well, Price’s injuries have thrust Condon into a starting role, and he has performed admirably in the interim. Despite this being Condon’s first taste of the NHL, he played well enough to gain points in all but 2 games in November. It seems clear that Condon’s focus has started to slip with the extra workload, but his play still gives Montreal a decent chance to win on most nights.
Stats: 5W-2L-3OTL, 2.35 GAA, .906 SV%
3rd Star: Max Pacioretty
For the second straight month, Montreal’s captain was at the top of the goal scoring column; his five goals were good to share the lead with Galchenyuk, Tomas Fleischmann and David Desharnais. Moreover, Pacioretty tallied at an impressive point-per-game pace and his 52 shots on goal were far and away Montreal’s most by any shooter. Moreover, these numbers manifested even with Pacioretty still recovering from a significant leg injury; Max seemed to be regaining his explosive stride near the end of the month.
Stats: 13 GP, 5G, 8A, 13P, -2 Rating
Honourable Mention: David Desharnais
David Desharnais is one of Montreal’s more polarizing players. Fans often seem stuck on the fact that he’s diminutive and vanishes in the post-season while others point out his consistent point production, regardless of his place in the line-up. Nevertheless, Desharnais’ strong play this season is a significant factor why Montreal has been able to roll four lines, and wear down the opposition. Desharnais wielded a hot stick in November, and proved opportunistic in scoring 5 goals on only 19 shots; his 26.3% shooting percentage will likely prove unsustainable moving forward. Desharnais’ 3 game-winning goals led all Canadiens in that category.
Stats: 13 GP, 5G, 3A, 8P, +2 Rating