Today’s final grade article will focus on the Canadiens goaltenders and defencemen. Skaters with a minimum of 20 games played, that finished the season with the team, were evaluated. Both the regular season and playoffs were considered with calculating these grades.
Carey Price – Grade: A
Carey Price’s season was much like a roller coaster, full of ups and downs. At the start of the season, Price was outstanding, setting an NHL record by winning his first 10 straight games. The early talk among fans and media was Price had returned to his MVP like ways of Then his play started to decline, where some games he was good but other he was un-Price-like. The inconsistency continued for a few months, but seemed to change course at the same time of the head coaching change from Michel Therrien to Claude Julien. Most of the rest of Price’s games were very good, as his goals against and save percentage both improved through to the end of the regular season. In fact this season Price’s goals against average was the second best of his career, and his save percentage was tied for his third best career effort. In the playoffs, Price was very good. Out of his four defeats, only once did he allow three goals, twice he allowed two goals, and the other loss he allowed only one goal. When reviewing his playoff career stats, this season was his best goals against average, and his second best save percentage. When considering all of these points, it’s a surprise to me that Carey Price was criticized for his post season play against the Rangers this year.
Regular Season: 62 GP, 37 W, 20 L, OT 5, 3 SO, 2.23 GAA, .923 SV%
Playoffs: 6 GP, 2 W, 4 L , 1.86 GAA, .933 SV%
Al Montoya – Grade: B
In his first season with the Habs, Al Montoya proved to be a capable backup goalie. His role is to give Carey Price a mental/physical break from the NHL grind of a schedule and he was utilized well in that way. There were a few games this season where he let in a high number of goals but many of those goals were the direct result of any support from his team. Montoya is very well liked among his teammates and his partner in the nets. He represents a traditional backup, a veteran player who is content with his role and not trying to challenge the #1 starter to usurp it. Hopefully Montoya will return to the Habs next season, if he isn’t taken by the Las Vegas expansion team.
Regular Season: 19 GP, 8 W, 6 L, 4 OT, 2 SO, 2.67 GAA, .912 SV%
N/A: Charlie Lindgren (3 GP)
Shea Weber – Grade: A
Shea Weber came into Montreal from an off season trade with Nashville, representing the biggest trade in Habs history during this millennium. There was much controversy linked to this trade, since P.K. Subban was dealt away, and the GM had denied he was considering making that move. Weber came to the team with a reputation of being a strong leader, a #1 defenceman and a defender that was hard to play against due to his physical style. Shea lived up to the first two points very well, but was not often seen as a very physical defenceman or a punishing hitter. Occasionally those attributes did appear but it left fans wanting more. His presence on the power play was a positive factor, helping to improve the team’s dismal performance from last season.
Regular Season: 78 GP, 17 Goals, 25 Assists, 42 Points, +20 rating, 38 PIM, 183 Shots
Playoffs: 6 GP, 1 Goal, 2 Assists, 3 Points, +1 rating, 5 PIM, 15 Shots
Andrei Markov – Grade: B+
Andrei Markov’s season was marred by a mid-season injury that kept him out of the lineup for 20 games. That was his first significant injury since the 2011-12 season. At the start of the season he was paired with Jeff Petry, and the two made an effective duo. After his return to the lineup at the end of January, Markov was slowly brought along to help him get back into game shape. It didn’t take long before he was back to his usual level, then promoted to the top pairing with Shea Weber. He stayed there through to the end of the season. Despite his age (38) Markov was a solid contributor to the team again. He’ll be a UFA this summer and hopefully he’ll return to Montreal.
Regular Season: 62 GP, 6 Goals, 30 Assists, 36 Points, +18 rating, 16 PIM, 98 Shots
Playoffs: 6 GP, 1 Assist, -1 rating, 10 PIM, 8 Shots
Jeff Petry – Grade: B
Jeff Petry is an excellent combination of size, speed and skill for a defenceman. This past season he showed some flashes of a top pairing defender. However as a right handed shot it’s unlikely he’ll ever be paired with Shea Weber, the team’s #1 defenceman who also shoots right. Most games this season, Petry kept his game simple with straight forward plays. Occasionally he suffered a brain cramp type of turnover and some of those plays were costly. When Jeff Petry was paired with Andrei Markov, the two formed a solid blueline pair, and Markov seemed to be the most complimentary player for Petry.
Regular Season: 80 GP, 8 Goals, 20 Assists, 28 Points, +3 rating, 22 PIM, 172 Shots
Playoffs: 6 GP, 1 Goal, -3 rating, 2 PIM, 12 Shots
Alexei Emelin – Grade: B-
Alexei Emelin represents a polarizing figure for the Canadiens. At the start of the season he was shuttled between the 2nd and 3rd pairings before settling into the 1st pairing later with Shea Weber. He seemed to excel in that role where he kept his game simple and relied on Weber for handling the puck. Emelin was later bumped off that pairing but seemed to struggle for the rest of the season. It’s not clear if it was an issue of confidence or something else. When Alexei puts his mind to it, he’s a fantastic hitter, capable of totally removing a player from the ice. That’s the main reason the Habs drafted him and later signed him to an NHL contract; the rest of his hockey skills are average at best. Emelin still leads the team in hits but it’s definitely a case of quantity over quality.
Regular Season: 76 GP, 2 Goals, 8 Assists, 10 Points, +1 rating, 71 PIM, 82 Shots
Playoffs: 2 GP, 1 Goal, +1 rating, 2 PIM, 2 Shots
Nathan Beaulieu – Grade: B-
Nathan Beaulieu managed to have a career season in terms of goals, points, and games played. His season start was similar to Alexei Emelin, bouncing between all three pairings. When paired with Petry he didn’t seem to connect very well on the second pairing. He gravitated to the 3rd pairing for most of the second half of the season and was a healthy scratch for the last game of the playoffs. Marc Bergevin stated the ominous phrase at the end of the season press conference, that Nate is at a crossroads in his career. It’s tough to say if the Habs will leave him unprotected for the expansion draft or if they will trade him during the offseason.
Regular Season: 74 GP, 4 Goals, 24 Assists, 28 Points, +8 rating, 44 PIM, 118 Shots
Playoffs: 5 GP, 1 Assist, -3 rating, 5 Shots
N/A: Jordie Benn (19 GP), Brandon Davidson (13 GP), Joel Hanley (7 GP), Ryan Johnston (7 GP), Brett Lernout (2 GP), Nikita Nesterov (15 GP), Zach Redmond (16 GP), Mikhail Sergachev (4 GP)