The Canadiens cooled off significantly in November but powered by the new first line they were able to remain competitive and find themselves in the playoff hunt with Shea Weber returning to the fold.
First Star: Max Domi
The HabsWorld first star for the second month running, Domi has emerged as the centrepiece of the Canadiens’ offence in more ways than one.
Domi continues to produce at a point per game pace and is on track to smash his career highs in both goals and points. Known as more of a passer than a shooter, he’s already put up 14 goals this season, easily outstripping the nine he scored each of the past two seasons. It may be the switch to centre or the change to playing in a big time, hockey-crazed market but Max is looking a lot more like the dominant player we saw in the World Juniors a few years back than a guy struggling to find his way in the NHL the past couple of seasons. Beyond the points, Domi appears to be right in the thick of the new identity of the Habs this year, bringing energy and swagger both on and off the ice.
Stats: 14 GP, 6 G, 9 A, 15 PTS, +2 rating
Second Star: Jonathan Drouin
Domi’s running mate in Drouin is another player who has really found his stride this season. Still just 23, he’s been flashing the elite skill that made him a 3rd overall pick not too long ago.
Though the young winger is prone to the occasional bonehead play or defensive lapse, he brings a level of skill and creativity that’s been sorely lacking in Montreal for years. When he’s fully engaged, Drouin has the ability to take over a game, and we’ve been seeing a far more energetic and aggressive player thus far this season. He’s also on track to set career highs this year and his growing chemistry with Domi should have fans excited.
Stats: 14 GP, 6 G, 6 A, 12 PTS, -5 rating
Third Star: Andrew Shaw
Thought of as everything from an overpaid fourth liner to simply dead weight over the past year, Shaw has re-emerged as an important piece of the puzzle for a young Canadiens club.
The third member of what has become the Habs’ first line alongside Domi and Drouin, Shaw does a lot of the dirty work for the group, but has also been re-invigorated as a goal scorer and has the ability to take important draws on his strong side. It’s easy to forget that Shaw, still just 27, was a key member of two Stanley Cup winning Chicago teams and the intangibles he brings should not be underestimated.
Stats: 14 GP, 6 G, 5 A, 11 PTS, +2 rating
Honourable Mention: Jeff Petry
Petry stepped up in a big way with captain Shea Weber on the shelf for the first couple months of the season. He’s played big minutes and contributed at both ends of the ice while working in all situations. His 24 points through 32 games this season are even more impressive when considering the ineptness of Montreal’s power play. The return of Weber will hopefully help the ailing power play and, in pushing Petry to the second pair, will give the team impressive depth on the right side of the defense.
Stats: 14 GP, 1 G, 7 A, 8 PTS, -5 rating