With the Habs in the mix for a playoff spot, Carey Price has returned to his MVP form and the defensive veterans rounded out the Three Stars for January.
First Star: Carey Price
The Canadiens’ franchise player posted sparkling numbers in January so it was no surprise that he dominated the first place votes, receiving over 80%.
Now that he’s returned to full health, Price is resembling the dominant goalkeeper that we got used to prior to last season’s blip. He was named to his sixth All-Star game but wisely decided to take a pass and accept the one-game suspension in order to rest and spend time with his growing family. It appears that this was the right call, as he appears focused and rested, making the Habs a very dangerous team in the East. The Canadiens were looking like a playoff team without Shea Weber and Price playing poorly – but with Price playing at this level, they can make some noise once they get there.
Stats: 8 GP, 5-3-0, 1.52 G.A.A., .953 save %
Second Star: Jeff Petry
Petry continues to put together a career year, putting up points despite the return of Weber to the lineup. He’s now just five points shy of his career high (42), with nearly 30 games left to play.
At this point, Petry has established himself as a cornerstone of the Canadiens’ defensive unit and is an underrated member of the team’s leadership group as one of only four players over 30 on the roster (Price, Weber, and Antti Niemi). Signed for two more years, with a cap hit of just $5.5 million. the trade to acquire him and extend him appears to be one of GM Marc Bergevin’s best moves to date.
Stats: 11 GP, 2 G, 4 A, 6 PTS, even rating
Third Star: Shea Weber
Since his return at the end of November, Weber has brought stability to the Habs’ defensive unit, while beginning to chip in on offence as well and if he can ignite the power play, it would go along way in securing Montreal’s playoff hopes.
His return to the lineup coincided with Price’s return to form – coincidence or not, having the team’s leaders healthy and playing at a high level is a massive boost to a young club already vastly exceeding expectations. The Canadiens are still without a long-term partner to play with Weber on the left side although Victor Mete has looked quite good playing in that spot since his recall from Laval.
Stats: 11 GP, 2 G, 3 A, 5 PTS, +4 rating
Honourable Mention: Brendan Gallagher
In a month dominated by the club’s veterans and leadership group, it makes perfect sense that Gallagher gets the honourable mention nod.
Another one of the club’s most important players and leaders, Gallagher is the model the young Montreal forwards appear to be trying to emulate. He’s now eclipsed the 20-goal mark for the third time in what is a surprisingly young career and is closing in on 500 games played at just 26 despite the injury problems that plagued him through two seasons. Gallagher remains one of the best value contracts in the league at a shocking $3.75 million for two more seasons.
Stats: 11 GP, 4 G, 2 A, 6 PTS, +2 rating