Well, well…we’re at the other end of the spectrum after the first 21 games, aren’t we. Following a 7-12-1 stretch, with one of the worst December’s in club history, the Canadiens have dropped into the thick of the playoff race after a magical first quarter of the season. There has been lots of finger pointing during this ugly stretch, some of which is related to the injury bug. But, as you’ll come to see, the offence hit a severe drought and the third and fourth liners punching above their weight class with goal support couldn’t bail them out.
Players must have played in at least five games to receive a grade.
Alex Galchenyuk B+: Does anyone deserve an ‘A’? No, but Galchenyuk was by far the most engaged and dangerous threat on an anemic offense. With the team misfiring on the whole, he was one of the lone bright spots, showing flashes of what’s to come as he continues his development.
2nd Quarter Stats: 20 GP, 7 goals, 8 assists, 15 points, +6 rating, 2 PIMS, 44 shots
Daniel Carr B: Not too shabby scoring on your first shift of your first NHL game, Mr. Lemieux. And that’s where the comparisons for that end. Carr has played very well since his call up, producing more points than all forwards save Pacioretty and Galchenyuk during the second quarter. He’s a constant threat on the ice, and a hard worker. Looks comfortable.
2nd Quarter Stats: 14 GP, 5 goals, 2 assists, 7 points, even rating, 4 PIMS, 27 shots
Paul Byron B: Another bright spot during Montreal’s wretched stretch as the penalty kill assassin continues to fill the net with some regularity. He’s a large and dangerous part of the Canadiens’ fourth ranked PK and has worked himself into a mainstay with his speed and continuous work ethic. He adds an element of danger to the joint highest scoring team on the PK.
2nd Quarter Stats: 20 GP, 5 goals, 1 assists, 6 points, +3 rating, 0 PIMS, 20 shots
Brian Flynn B-: As solid as can be during the slump as he contributed in all aspects of the game when needed. One of the few to walk the right side of the +/- line as he chipped in a few goals for good measure.
2nd Quarter Stats: 20 GP, 2 goals, 3 assists, 5 points, +2 rating, 4 PIMS, 17 shots
Max Pacioretty B-: Everyone knows the book on Pacioretty is that he’s streaky. When he gets going, watch out, but when he isn’t, it can be a rough dry spell. He didn’t dry up completely, but he went colder in the second quarter. His forwards-high -8 is troubling, and uncharacteristic. A bounce back is certainly expected, but it was a tough patch for the captain nonetheless.
2nd Quarter Stats: 20 GP, 6 goals, 6 assists, 12 points, -8 rating, 6 PIMS, 76 shots
Dale Weise C+: It’d be unreasonable to expect him to keep scoring at the same clip he displayed during the first part of the season. He remains what we’ve come to expect of him from his time here. It’s unfortunate that he’ll miss a few weeks with the Winter Classic injury, but all-in-all, he hasn’t looked great, but he hasn’t looked like the problem either. The compete level is always there.
2nd Quarter Stats: 19 GP, 2 goals, 4 assists, 6 points, -5 rating, 4 PIMS, 41 shots
Tomas Plekanec C: Another who was putting up higher than usual numbers, which have now some back down to earth. Still, while he remains a focal point of Montreal’s game, 1 goal in 25 (or so) games is unacceptable for him. The team needed more from him and they didn’t get it.
2nd Quarter Stats: 20 GP, 1 goal, 7 assists, 8 points, -5 rating, 6 PIMS, 46 shots
Lars Eller C: Sort of a ‘meh’ quarter from Eller. He had some highs and some lows. Sometimes he gives you reason to expect more, other times he leaves you scratching your head. Consistency would have to be a target for the second half of the season.
2nd Quarter Stats: 20 GP, 1 goal, 5 assists, 6 points, -4 rating, 10 PIMS, 26 shots
Sven Andrighetto C-: He’s played reasonably well during his up and down stints between the AHL and the NHL, he just hasn’t seemed to do enough to win over the coaching staff. He’s put up decent stat lines compared to his peers during the second quarter, which is why he finds himself at the dizzying heights of a ‘C-‘ score. He does leave you with the feeling that he’s capable of more.
2nd Quarter Stats: 14 GP, 4 goals, 1 assist, 5 points, +5 rating, 2 PIMS, 17 shots
David Desharnais C-: Sometimes you just get the feeling this guy’s unlucky. Bounces aren’t going his way, weird things happen to keep the puck out of the net – just odd stuff sometimes. His dry spell is something of an issue as he’s leaned on to produce, and he needs to be held accountable for that. If people are going to heap praise when he performs, he needs to get drilled when he doesn’t.
2nd Quarter Stats: 20 GP, 2 goals, 3 assists, 5 points, -5 rating, 8 PIMS, 27 shots
Torrey Mitchell C-: A bit harsh perhaps, considering he was injured, and maybe it’s still an issue because he doesn’t look the same as he did before getting knocked out of the lineup. Not sure if there’s a step missing but something’s seemed a little off since his return. Then again, no one’s really looked sensational of late.
2nd Quarter Stats: 10 GP, 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 points, -1 rating, 9 PIMS, 7 shots
Tomas Fleischmann D: What a turnaround – the steal of the offseason to a healthy scratch in 20 games. Ouch. His ill-timed penalties and odd plays were fine when he was producing. Now he’s not, and they aren’t quite as forgivable. Hopefully it’s just a rough patch and he reacts well to the benching when he gets back on the ice. He’s a good hockey player and shouldn’t be this low on lists like this.
2nd Quarter Stats: 20 GP, 2 goals, 2 assists, 4 points, -4 rating, 10 PIMS, 37 shots
Devante Smith-Pelly D-: A bit of a conundrum this player. He was injured for a part of the second quarter, returned, then was scratched, then returned again to top line minutes, which didn’t work out. There’s moments when he rolls over anyone and there’s moments where he disappears. He’s a North-South guy, and when he starts to think he isn’t, that’s when his mistakes show up.
2nd Quarter Stats: 8 GP, 2 goals, 1 assist, 3 points, -2 rating, 2 PIMS, 6 shots
Christian Thomas D: Not much to say here. Traded away for another AHL’er. Never made the most of his opportunities in the coach’s eyes I guess. Frankly, I don’t think anyone’s losing sleep on this one. Hopefully he gets a fair shake in Arizona.
2nd Quarter Stats: 5 GP, 0 goals, 2 assists, 2 points, +1 rating, 2 PIMS, 6 shots
Brendan Gallagher N/A: Despite missing nearly all of the second quarter, he returned for the Winter Classic and reminded everyone why we may be mired in a bad stretch, and that maybe it wasn’t just Carey Price going down. He’s scored twice in three games and has re-established a net presence that all but disappeared when he broke his fingers.