The third quarter of the season for the Habs featured more downs than ups as many players struggled. Accordingly, the grades aren’t as high as they’ve been the rest of the year. Our report card starts with the goalies and defencemen.
Skaters must have played in 5/20 games to receive a grade.
Al Montoya – B: It’s a bit of a mixed bag for Montoya in his limited action. He had two very strong starts (including recording a shutout in a loss) but he also allowed three goals in his other two outings. All in all, the good outweighs the bad and in Montoya’s defence, it’s hard to get into a good rhythm when you’re only playing once every couple of weeks.
3rd Quarter Stats: 4 GP, 2-1-1 record, 1.97 GAA, .918 SV%
Carey Price – C-: For most of this stretch, he looked very un-Price like. His positioning was off, his reaction time was poor, and he was getting beat on clean shots way more often than usual. Accordingly, it’s not that shocking that the Habs really struggled in the win column with Price scuffling. Fortunately, he has looked better as of late but considering how he had been playing, he couldn’t have gotten too much worse.
3rd Quarter Stats: 16 GP, 5-10-1 record, 2.99 GAA, .900 SV%
Andrei Markov – B: He may be old and in decline relative to what he was in his prime but Markov is still a very valuable member of this back end. The Habs rightfully eased him back into the lineup when he came back from his lower body injury but it wasn’t too long before he took on a bigger role. It will be interesting to see how Claude Julien manages his ice time now that he’s on the top pairing.
3rd Quarter Stats: 11 GP, 2 goals, 3 assists, 5 points, -3 rating, 4 PIMS, 17 shots
Shea Weber – C+: His struggles have been more noticeable lately. He’s not scoring anywhere near the level he was at the beginning of the year (which isn’t too surprising) but Weber’s defensive zone play has also been concerning. Part of that can be attributed to a less-than-ideal playing partner but even still, he wasn’t his usual reliable self when it comes to positioning and decision making. If this continues down the stretch, it’s going to be a real concern heading into the playoffs.
3rd Quarter Stats: 20 GP, 4 goals, 4 assists, 8 points, -6 rating, 8 PIMS, 45 shots
Nikita Nesterov – C: He has come as advertised – good offensive instincts and a strong skater but can’t defend to save his life. Nesterov’s shot is an intriguing weapon as well but he’s the type of player that’s hard to trust in a top six role on the blueline. Unfortunately for him, not only did Marc Bergevin add defensive depth at the deadline, he also added forward depth which decreases the odds of him dressing as a forward which might not have been the worst idea given their recent offensive struggles.
3rd Quarter Stats (MTL only): 7 GP, 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point, +1 rating, 2 PIMS, 9 shots
Alexei Emelin – C: I’ll give Emelin some credit that he was able to hold his own with Weber as long as he did but it was becoming more and more evident that the two weren’t working out. Hitting and blocking shots are fine but his inability to move the puck or skate particularly well really hurt him in this role. It will be interesting to see if he fares any better now that he’s in a role that’s closer to where it should be.
3rd Quarter Stats: 20 GP, 1 goal, 3 assists, 4 points, -3 rating, 16 PIMS, 24 shots
Jeff Petry – C-: Part of the reason that Montreal committed a long-term contract to Petry was the hope that he would provide stability on the second pairing. He did that early on this season but was anything but stable most nights over the past couple of months. He’s prone to panicking under pressure and without a stable defensive zone partner most nights, he made some really bad decisions that resulted in goals allowed. The offence is hit-or-miss with him but if it’s not going, he needs to be better than he has been in his own end.
3rd Quarter Stats: 19 GP, 0 goals, 5 assists, 5 points, -8 rating, 4 PIMS, 37 shots
Nathan Beaulieu – C-: He is one of the more frustrating players on the team as he has the skill to be a quality top four player but his decision making is often horrific. Unfortunately for both Beaulieu and the Canadiens, his mistakes came back to bite them much more often which resulted in him dropping to the third pairing recently. He’s someone I think can benefit from playing with a stable and safe partner, maybe Jordie Benn’s acquisition helps get him going a bit more.
3rd Quarter Stats: 20 GP, 0 goals, 6 assists, 6 points, -11 rating, 8 PIMS, 29 shots
Zach Redmond – D+: Earlier on in the season he was picking up a few points which made it a bit easier to have him in the lineup. That went away over these last couple of months and Redmond’s suspect play in his own end had him on waivers before too long. He’s a passable depth option but the Habs will be in trouble if they have to count on him too much down the stretch.
3rd Quarter Stats: 8 GP, 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point, +1 rating, 0 PIMS, 8 shots
N/A: Mark Barberio (lost on waivers), Ryan Johnston (only 1 GP), Greg Pateryn (traded)