The votes are in, and for the first time this season Carey Price isn’t on the list of the Montreal Canadiens’ three stars. As the team battled through injuries to post a respectable record and hold onto first place in the Atlantic there were some great performances by the usual suspects, but also some of the Habs’ depth players. This stretch has seen some of the clever acquisitions by Marc Bergevin, such as Paul Byron, Jeff Petry, and Phillip Danault pay off.
First Star: Max Pacioretty
The captain stepped up in a big way in December and was clearly the most dominant Hab on the ice. Often considered a streaky scorer, Patches busted out of an early season malaise (and got over a foot injury) to pot 10 goals over the course of the month. The lack of a top centre did not slow him down whatsoever and the league has been reminded that Montreal’s top left-winger is a force to be reckoned with.
Stats: 14 GP, 10 G, 5 A, 15 PTS, -1 rating
Second Star: Jeff Petry
Petry has been solid most games for the Habs this season – he may not be the flashiest but is quietly effective. During the month of December he stepped up, with Markov hurt and Shea Weber having a relatively quiet month, to chip in nine points while maintaining his strong defensive play. Since joining the Canadiens he’s battled some injuries, but now that he’s healthy he brings depth and stability to the defensive corps through his strong skating and underrated physical game.
Stats: 14 GP, 5 G, 4 A, 9 PTS, +9 rating
Third Star: Paul Byron
Without a doubt the best waiver wire pickup of the Bergevin era, the diminutive Byron has been a solid contributor all season and will set career highs in goals and points this season. He’s been a jack-of-all trades this year, killing penalties and playing on various lines up and down the line-up. His tremendous speed and surprising ability to finish make him a danger on every shift, while his cap hit (just a touch over $1 million/year) makes him one of the leagues best bargains.
Stats: 14 GP, 5 G, 6 A, 11 PTS, +4 rating
Honourable Mention: Alex Radulov
The only player to be on this list each month so far this season, what more can be said about Radulov. He has come as advertised all season, bringing tenacity and passion every night while continuing to be a beast of the puck whenever he has possession. It’s no wonder that he continues to inspire both teammates and fans alike.
Stats: 14 GP, 4 G, 4 A, 8 PTS, 0 rating