The fourth quarter of the 2017-18 season featured a lot of players simply playing out the stretch but there were some notable performances which are highlighted in our grades, beginning with the goaltenders and defencemen.
Players must have played in 5/21 games to receive a grade.
Antti Niemi – A-: Niemi had something to play for down the stretch and it showed. He kept Montreal in pretty much every game he played, even when the rest of the team wasn’t at its best. A few months ago, it felt like he was playing out the stretch and now, he has probably played himself into another NHL contract. It’ll be interesting to see if it’s with Montreal to serve as insurance if Charlie Lindgren isn’t quite ready.
4th Quarter Stats: 9 GP, 4-3-2 record, 2.32 GAA, .935 SV%
Charlie Lindgren – C-: Lindgren’s second stint with Montreal was nowhere near as successful as his first. Quite frankly, he looked like a minor league call-up and considering the hope is that he’ll be the backup to Price next season, it’s fair to say that more was expected. He wrapped up his time with four straight starts with at least four goals allowed (and didn’t finish strong in Laval either). Hopefully, he’ll play well at the Worlds to at least end his year on somewhat of a high note.
4th Quarter Stats: 6 GP, 1-4-1 record, 3.79 GAA, .884 SV%
Carey Price – D: While it’s fair to acknowledge that he was bound to be rusty after being off for a long time, Price looked a lot more than just rusty. He looked disinterested at times which is never good to see and he allowed quite a few goals that most netminders would stop. Whatever he did last year to get ready for this season needs to be thrown out the window as he was pretty much off from start to finish.
4th Quarter Stats: 6 GP, 1-4-1 record, 4.02 GAA, .874 SV%
Noah Juulsen – B+: There were some rookie mistakes for sure but all in all, Juulsen acquitted himself quite well in this final stretch. What was particularly impressive was his assertiveness – he didn’t back down even against the toughest of competition and he was comfortable joining the rush. He has played himself into the discussion for a regular spot next season.
4th Quarter Stats: 21 GP, 1 goal, 2 assists, 3 points, -1 rating, 4 PIMS, 30 shots
Jeff Petry – B-: There were moments where Petry looked like a legitimate top-pairing player and those where he really struggled. In other words, par for the course. At this stage of his career, the inconsistency isn’t going to go away and moving forward, the Habs will need to be ready to move him down the lineup when the bad times come.
4th Quarter Stats: 21 GP, 2 goals, 10 assists, 12 points, -4 rating, 6 PIMS, 41 shots
Mike Reilly – B-: He had some good moments after coming over at the trade deadline. He’s not a long-term solution in a top role but his mobility and offensive skill set make him an intriguing depth option, especially if some of the veterans are moved out in the summer. His defensive game will need to improve
4th Quarter Stats: 19 GP, 0 goals, 8 assists, 8 points, +1 rating, 8 PIMS, 29 shots
Brett Lernout – C: Injuries and Montreal’s place in the standings afforded the team a chance to give Lernout an actual extended look. In 15 games, he didn’t really do anything to make or break his chances long-term. He has been billed as a potential 6/7 defender and for the most part, his performance suggested he could hold that role into next year. However, you can say that about a lot of defenders on the fringes of a roster spot so not hurting his chances isn’t all that much of an accomplishment.
4th Quarter Stats: 15 GP, 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point, -4 rating, 6 PIMS, 13 shots
Karl Alzner – C-: In terms of his play, Alzner didn’t fare particularly well. Being demoted away from Petry when the team was sorely lacking in competent left-side defenders was a pretty strong message. However, it allowed him to pair with Juulsen and Alzner should receive some credit for helping the youngster get acclimated to the NHL which is at least a small positive.
4th Quarter Stats: 21 GP, 0 goals, 2 assists, 2 points, -2 rating, 11 PIMS, 19 shots
David Schlemko – C-: His final stretch of games, much like Schlemko’s entire year in general, was a write-off. He just didn’t look right when he was in there and it resulted in him sitting towards the end of the season. I don’t think the Habs have seen the best of him and considering he has two years left on his contract, they’ll have a shot to see a better version next year as his trade value isn’t exactly high right now.
4th Quarter Stats: 6 GP, 0 goals, 2 assists, 2 points, +2 rating, 0 PIMS, 7 shots
Jordie Benn – D+: When Benn was on the third pairing, he wasn’t bad. However, he struggled considerably when he was moved up onto the top pair while his comments late in the season complaining about the veteran defensive rotation was a really dumb way to end his year. There was trade chatter surrounding him near the deadline and that will likely pick up once again this summer.
4th Quarter Stats: 18 GP, 0 goals, 3 assists, 3 points, -2 rating, 9 PIMS, 21 shots
N/A: Victor Mete (3 GP), Rinat Valiev (2 GP)