The halfway point of the season has recently passed, and this is the first of two second quarter report card articles. This one focuses on Montreal’s goalies and defencemen.
Antti Niemi — Grade: C
As a waiver wire pickup who had terrible showings from his previous two NHL clubs this season, Niemi has actually fared well in the backup role for Montreal. Perhaps the guidance of goaltending coach Stephane Waite, whom he worked with back in the Chicago Blackhawks 2009-2010 Stanley Cup winning season, has helped turn around his year.
Second Quarter Stats: 4 GP, 2-0-1 record, 2.79 GAA, .918 SV%, 0 SO
Carey Price — Grade: C-
The team’s franchise player improved his play in the second quarter to rebound from a horrible start to the season. His save percentage was much more Price-like, along with his goals against, even if it didn’t result in many more victories.
Second Quarter Stats: 17 GP, 9-7-1 record, 2.38 GAA, .929 SV%, 1 SO
Incomplete – Charlie Lindgren (only one game played)
Jordie Benn — Grade: C+
Benn has continued to impress with his surprising offensive production, relatively speaking. At the midway mark, he’s tied his career high for goals and is on pace to match his career high for points. The expectations for Jordie were to provide a steady defensive game on the third pairing, and he usually provides that. On a struggling Habs team, Benn’s game has improved overall from the first quarter.
Second Quarter Stats: 20 GP, 3 goals, 2 assists, 5 points, +4 rating, 8 PIMS, 29 shots
Jeff Petry — Grade: C
Statistically speaking, there hasn’t been much different in Petry’s second quarter except for nearly doubling his assist total from three to seven. However, since Shea Weber left the lineup, Petry has stepped up to take on a bigger role and more ice time. So by the “eye test,” he’s looked like he’s playing much better than before. I would qualify that statement by adding he looked like he’s playing much better when he’s not paired with Karl Alzner.
Second Quarter Stats: 20 GP, 2 goals, 7 assists, 9 points, -12 rating, 6 PIMS, 39 shots
Jakub Jerabek — Grade: C
Although Jerabek had not yet hit the scoresheet this season through the first half, he had shown signs of coming close before breaking through on Monday. The 26-year-old rookie in his first NHL season and made a quick adjustment to the North American game while starting the season in the AHL. A November call-up along with other regulars absent from the lineup has given Jakub the opportunity he needed. His play helped management decide to place a more experienced defenceman (Brandon Davidson) on waivers.
Second Quarter Stats: 15 GP, 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 points, +3 rating, 2 PIMS, 11 shots
David Schlemko — Grade: C
After missing the first few months from a training camp based hand injury, Schlemko was finally cleared to play and join his team in the second quarter. It took a little time to readjust to playing again but David has slowly made positive strides. Like Jerabek, I’m expecting more offensive output from Schlemko for the second half of the season.
Second Quarter Stats: 14 GP, 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point, +6 rating, 0 PIMS, 10 shots
Joe Morrow — Grade: D
Consistency has plagued Morrow for the second quarter, much like the first. Joe seems to have poor decision making when it comes to the defensive side of the game. He does have some offensive talent such as a good shot and good skating ability which has helped keep him in the lineup at times. With the team struggling so much this season, it’s difficult to see how Morrow can help at all.
Second Quarter Stats: 14 GP, 1 goal, 3 assists, 4 points, -1 rating, 12 PIMS, 21 shots
Karl Alzner — Grade: F
Alzner was brought to the Habs with the hope of replacing Alexei Emelin as a steady defensive defender. Although Karl admitted to the media early on that he was having difficulty adjusting to the Habs new defensive system (from man-to-man to zone), he still has not found a way to adjust to it. Until he does, he will remain a liability on defence, and an expensive one.
Second Quarter Stats: 20 GP, 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point, -4 rating, 10 PIMS, 21 shots
Victor Mete – Grade: Incomplete
Victor missed a majority of the second quarter due to an absence to compete in the World Junior Hockey Championship tournament plus a few games as a healthy scratch. For the few games he did play, his presence was felt, as his plus stats improved his first quarter total back into the positive side.
Second Quarter Stats: 6 GP, 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point, +7 rating, 0 PIMS, 3 shots
Shea Weber — Grade: Incomplete
The Habs best blueliner was pulled from the lineup to recover from an injury he reportedly suffered in game one. He only managed to get into six games before being shut down, and since we now know he was playing through injury, he will not be graded this quarter.
Second Quarter Stats: 6 GP, 2 goals, 1 assist, 3 points, -1 rating, 0 PIMS, 15 shots