The Canadiens made a great run at the playoffs to finish off the season but came up just short. Not surprisingly, Carey Price was at his best when the going got tough, while a couple of unsung heroes chipped in and a rookie made a sparkling debut.
First Star: Carey Price
Since the All-Star break, Price was exactly what the Canadiens needed him to be – one of the best goalies in the game. As the intensity ramped up and the playoff chase got tight, Price was excellent and gave the Habs a chance to win just about every night.
With the downturn in Antti Niemi’s play, he played almost every game down the stretch, save the finale once the playoffs were out of reach. At no point during that stretch did he look out of gas which is great news for the Habs as they continue their retool with an eye on next season’s playoffs.
Stats: 16 GP, 9-6-1, 2.40 G.A.A., 0.925 save %
Second Star: Andrew Shaw
Shaw capped off a great season as a key contributor with the Canadiens in the hunt for the playoffs. Now finally healthy, it seems that Claude Julien has been able to get the best out of him and we may be seeing his true value.
Not only did he notch 19 goals and set a career high with 47 points in just 63 games, he was also often one of the engines of the team and was effective when playing with skilled players such as Max Domi. Still just 27 and with over 500 games played, we may now be seeing the best of Shaw and his value will be even higher once this team is back in the playoffs.
Stats: 18 GP, 3 G, 11 A, 14 PTS, +4 rating
Third Star: Brett Kulak
After being acquired in an early season deal from the Flames in exchange for Rinat Valiev and Matt Taormina, Kulak was initially assigned to Laval. His strong play led to a relatively quick recall to the big club and played a significant role in stabilizing the left side of the defence.
Down the stretch, Kulak had increased responsibilities, playing close to 20 minutes a night and flashing some offence along the way with nine points in the final 17 games. While he’s unlikely to become a big producer, the impending RFA could be an ideal third pairing defenceman for the Habs moving forward.
Stats: 17 GP, 3 G, 6 A, 9 PTS, +1 rating
Honourable Mention: Ryan Poehling
His debut was the stuff of legend, joining the team after his NCAA season ended and then suiting up for the final game of the year against the Leafs. With a hat trick and the shootout winner, he gave fans a glimpse of the future and helped end the season on a high note.
His Canadiens debut capped off a strong year for Poehling, which included a standout performance at the World Juniors. He was named the top forward in the tournament and had a spectacular third-period hat trick in the group stages against the Swedes.
Stats: 1 GP, 3 G, 0 A, 3 PTS, +3 rating
Thanks for all the votes this season!