The Habs kicked off the 2019-20 season in similar fashion to last year – playing a tenacious brand of hockey and looking like a team that’s going to be competitive most nights. The major difference so far is a significantly improved powerplay, currently 13th in the league. Meanwhile, the penalty kill has been a problem and is currently tied for 27th in the NHL.
October’s stars are hardly a surprise, with three stars regular Brendan Gallagher topping the list and a rejuvenated Jonathan Drouin coming in just behind in the second spot.
First Star: Brendan Gallagher
What more can I say about Gallagher? It feels like he’s been mentioned in this space every month for the past two seasons and he’s off to a great start once again. Potting seven goals in October, Gallagher continues to be a shot generation machine and is currently in the top 15 league-wide in shots on goal. His line, alongside Phillip Danault and normally Tomas Tatar, is consistently one of the strongest 5 on 5 groups in the NHL.
Gallagher embodies the attitude and style of play the Habs hope to bring every time he steps on the ice and his importance as a leader cannot be overstated.
Stats: 13 GP, 7 G, 5 A, 11 PTS, +4 rating
Second Star: Jonathan Drouin
Early returns are looking good on a potential rebound season for Drouin, as he is contributing on the scoresheet and turning in a solid effort regularly. His work away from the puck has been especially notable and the extra work he put in during the offseason appears to be paying off. His offensive skill has always been undeniable, but if he can be trusted in all three zones consistently, look out.
If Drouin can sustain this level of play the Canadiens are likely to be a far more dangerous team than initially thought, complimenting the tremendous scoring depth already in place with elite creativity and vision.
Stats: 13 GP, 7 G, 5 A, 12 PTS, +5 rating
Third Star: Joel Armia
Since coming over from the Jets prior to last season, Armia has been a steady contributor when healthy, however, injuries limited him to just 57 games last year. A possession monster who can play in all situations, he’s been seeing significant power play and penalty kill time this season and has become one of Claude Julien’s go-to guys.
Health will be an important factor, but having Armia in the lineup is a significant boost to the Habs’ forward depth and gives Julien an additional big body to roll out on the power play, especially considering he has shown some finishing ability.
Stats: 11 GP, 6 G, 3 A, 9 PTS, +7 rating
Honourable Mention: Max Domi
Domi has picked up right where he left off last season, putting up points and playing effectively, if not perfectly, at centre. He brings confidence and swagger to the lineup, in addition to tremendous playmaking ability – Max is a perfect fit in Montreal.
Stats: 13 GP, 4 G, 7 A, 11 PTS, +7 rating