It was a tough month to bear for the Montreal Canadiens and their fans alike. Not only were two of their stars sidelined with injury, the healthy players weren’t able to muster much of a semblance of competency as they stumbled to a pathetic 3-11-0 record. These failings left our Habsworld readers in a “Where’s Waldo” situation, in which considerable effort had to be made to spy the few bright spots hidden in the sea of red and white (and in this case, blue) of horrible hockey.
1st Star: Alex Galchenyuk
For the second consecutive month, Galchenyuk earned the honour of being selected Habsworld’s first star. In a month that saw “Chucky’s” ice-time creep upwards, he led the Canadiens in points and tied P.K. Subban for the lead in assists. Despite developing chemistry with line-mate Daniel Carr, Galchenyuk remains saddled with what many consider to be sub-average wingers for the Top 6; it is impressive that Galchenyuk was able to produce points in what was a goal-starved month. Although Galchenyuk hasn’t yet earned the status of a #1 center, it is encouraging that he continues to take strides in that direction, at only age 21.
Stats: 14 GP, 2G, 6A, 8P, 37 shots
2nd Star: Daniel Carr
When Marc Bergevin spoke highly of Carr prior to the start of the season, few could have imagined him earning a significant spot on this year’s roster. After all, the right-wing looked fully stocked, with the likes of Brendan Gallagher, Alex Semin, Dale Weise, Devante Smith-Pelly and Zach Kassian ahead of Carr on the depth chart. Fast-forward to December, where there were gaping holes in the roster on the right-wing, and Carr’s play earning him Top 6 role. The word on Carr is that he’s been able to score at every level he’s played at, and the NHL is apparently no exception; Carr scored his first goal on his first shift in his first game. His simple play (i.e., driving the net) paid dividends in December and he shockingly led all Canadiens with 4 goals. While this may be a knock on Montreal’s inability to score, it is nonetheless impressive for the rookie winger.
Stats: 12 GP, 4G, 1A, 5P, 25 shots.
3rd Star: P.K. Subban
Although P.K.’s greatest achievement in December may have been bringing a winter wonderland to life for the kids at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, his play was quite respectable. Despite an alarming (and honestly, baffling) inability to score goals, P.K’s 6 points were good for second on the team and his 6 assists tied Alex Galchenyuk for the team lead. His offensive prowess was further evidenced with the man-advantage; P.K. may not be rocketing any point shots into the back of the net, but his 4 powerplay points led all Montreal skaters. P.K also saw fit to drop the gloves for the first time this year, and as a result, his 21 penalty minutes were tops for the Canadiens, along with Alexei Emelin.
Stats: 14GP, 6A, 21PIM, 4 Powerplay points
Honourable Mention: Sven Andrighetto
Sven Andrighetto will never be mistaken for a Selke Trophy candidate, but his offensive ability is evident, and proved valuable for a goal-starved team like the Canadiens in December. A healthy scratch throughout the month, Andrighetto is unlikely to ever be a Michel Therrien favourite; however, for a call-up, “Ghetto” provided some offense, and his +2 rating was actually the best for December’s hapless Habs. Andrighetto is still learning the NHL game, but early indicators show that he may carve out a niche for himself before too long.
Stats: 10GP, 2G, 1A, 3P, +2 Rating, 10 shots