The votes are in and the captain checks in as your first star for January. It’s not been a fun year to be a fan of the Habs, but there have been some impressive performances along the way as a rookie, a defenceman that has stepped up and a former waiver wire pickup join Pacioretty as the stars for the month.
First Star: Max Pacioretty
The captain woke up in January and went on one of his trademark scoring binges, picking up eight goals along the way. We should be used to this kind of behavior from Pacioretty, as every season he seems to go ice cold for a time, yet still consistently emerges with a 30-goal season. While his game may not be at its best this season, there is no denying that his five 30-goal seasons are an impressive feat.
Given his history of consistent scoring and his great contract, Pacioretty will be extremely attractive to teams if the Habs choose to move him. If this is the case, it’s imperative that Bergevin and company get an excellent return as players like Pacioretty aren’t easy to find.
Stats: 11 GP, 8 G, 3 A, 11 PTS, +3 rating
Second Star: Jeff Petry
Petry continued his strong play in the absence of Shea Weber and has done a fine job assuming the number one defenceman role in relief. While he has been good at even strength, his play on the power play has been excellent, helping to ignite the unit, which has been one of the best in the league in recent weeks. He has now picked up 25 points, closing in on his career high of 28, which he set just last season.
While he may be prone to some dips in play, Petry is an underrated and important member of a weak Montreal blueline that could not be easily replaced. He plays big minutes in all situations and has the ability to elevate his game, making him one of the few true top-four options in the Canadiens’ system.
Stats: 11 GP, 1 G, 7 A, 8 PTS, -2 rating
Third Star: Paul Byron
The diminutive speedster continues to do a little bit of everything for the Habs, with the latest task being playing centre due to the injuries to Phillip Danault and, to a lesser extent, Andrew Shaw. Byron has been up to the challenge, though he cannot be expected to make up for the club’s woeful lack of depth at centre ice.
While he’s unlikely to match his career best numbers from last season when he put up 22 goals and 41 points, he does continue to produce at a decent clip. Byron brings a solid effort to each game and is able to play up and down the lineup, making him invaluable to the Canadiens.
Stats: 11 GP, 3 G, 5 A, 8 PTS, 2 rating
Honourable Mention: Charles Hudon
In a tough season full of disappointing performances, Hudon has delivered a very good, under the radar, rookie season for the Habs. Victor Mete has deservedly gotten plenty of attention for his performance, but Hudon’s emergence may prove to be just as important in the long run. He has now racked up 20 points, and while that isn’t mind blowing, he is looking more and more like a top six winger at the NHL level.
Stats: 11 GP, 3 G, 2 A, 5 PTS, 2 rating