What a difference a year makes, not only are the Habs scoring goals (!) and putting up wins but there’s a new-found energy and positivity around the team. They play with tenacity and speed, making them a tough out and fun to watch as well. Prior to Thursday night, they hadn’t lost two games in a row this year and appear to be a resilient group – all of these characteristics: tenacity, resilience, positivity and speed are reflected in this month’s stars.
First Star: Max Domi
Acquired for Alex Galchenyuk over the summer in a trade that raised more than a few eyebrows, Domi has been a revelation this far and is the poster boy for how the Habs want to play – aggressive and fast.
Unlike Jonathan Drouin last year, he’s transitioned well to centre despite just about everyone thinking it was a bad idea. It could be argued that the new position suits his style of play, as a defensibly responsible playmaker, better than the wing. Domi is a player that appears to love the spotlight and the pressure that comes with it, he’s been the straw that stirs the drink so far, and a budding rapport with Drouin could be a fruitful offensive partnership for years to come. He put up just 9 goals and 45 points last year, but early returns suggest that may have been the exception, rather than the norm.
Stats: 11 GP, 5 G, 6 A, 11 PTS, 0 rating
Second Star: Brendan Gallagher
Easily the Habs best player from last season, Gallagher soared to career highs in both goals (31) and points (54) despite the poor performance by the team.
He’s been right back at it this year, assuming a leadership role on a young team, and forming a strong trio with Tomas Tatar and Phillip Danault, giving the Canadiens several lines that can put the puck in the net. His tenacious style seems to be the inspiration for this year’s Canadiens as the team has adopted a similar, aggressive style of play. If he manages to stay healthy again we could be looking at another great year – at this point, there’s no doubting his talent.
Stats: 11 GP, 7 G, 1 A, 8 PTS, +3 rating
Third Star: Tomas Tatar
Tatar was thought of as a throw-in as part of the Max Pacioretty trade by many after he was acquired by Vegas for 1st, 2nd and 3rd round picks yet failed to make an impact. It seems as though Vegas may have been right in the first place.
Tatar looks much more like the four-time 20 goal scorer he is than the frequent healthy scratch with the Golden Knights last spring. He’s been a great fit on a line with Gallagher and Danault, allowing the Habs to play Domi and Drouin together and giving the team unexpected scoring depth. Tatar’s offensive skill shave been on full display so and though he’ll have droughts, just like any scorer, he’s one of the primary shooters on the team seems to be up to the challenge so far.
Stats: 11 GP, 3 G, 6 A, 9 PTS, +3 rating
Honourable Mention: Mike Reilly
Reilly was picked up at last season’s trade deadline for a 5th round pick and is already looking like a pretty major win for Bergevin. Still young at just 25, he may now be fulfilling his potential as a legitimate top-4 left-shot defenceman. He’s proven capable of absorbing significant minutes, skates well and pushes the puck up the ice quickly. One of the major questions coming into the season was determining who will play with Shea Weber when he gets back – the Canadiens may have found their answer far sooner than expected.
Stats: 11 GP, 1 G, 2 A, 3 PTS, +3 rating