The postseason is over for the Montreal Canadiens and the results were surprisingly good. This is the first of our two report card articles with this one grading the defencemen and goalie for their efforts during their two playoff rounds.
Carey Price – Grade: A
Playoff Stats: 10 GP, 5W, 5L, 2 SO, 1.78 GAA, .936 SV%
Grade Comments: Price redeemed himself from a poor regular season by his own standards. During the first game of the Penguins series, he helped the team “steal” the win. There’s no doubt that helped get in the heads of the Pittsburgh shooters. The rest of the series was steady, not allowing any bad goals while making some big saves when it was needed most. During three of the five playoff losses, he allowed only one goal. In the other two losses he allowed only two, so he was always giving his team a chance to compete during those games.
Shea Weber – Grade: A
Playoff Stats: 10 GP, 3G, 2A, +3, 16 PIM, 1PPG, 25:17 TOI, 27 Shots
Grade Comments: The captain rose to the occasion leading the troops into battle. During the first series, he was given shutdown responsibilities to match up against the Penguins best forwards and need to focus on neutralizing superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Shea scored a huge goal in game three against Pittsburgh, where he helped jump into the rush then scored on a rebound for Montreal’s first goal. He continued his high level of play against the Flyers and was a rock every game.
Ben Chiarot – Grade: A-
Playoff Stats: 10 GP, 2A, +2, 12 PIM, 23:07 TOI, 15 Shots
Grade Comments: To carry the military cliches forward, Chiarot made an excellent first lieutenant and defence partner for Weber. Many opposing forwards paid the price when they crossed the blueline against Chiarot. His toughness along with Weber’s was a huge factor in neutralizing the opposing forwards in both series. Although he was not a big contributor to the offence, his defensive game was very solid and consistent. Ben came a long way from the start of the regular season, where it took him around twenty games to learn the Habs system, to fit in and excel.
Jeff Petry – Grade: A-
Playoff Stats: 10 GP, 2G, 1A, +1, 6PIM, 2 GWG, 25:27 TOI, 15 Shots
Grade Comments: What can you say about the player that scored the overtime game-winner in the first game against Pittsburgh, and then scored the game-winner in the third game of that series? Even though Petry only managed one more assist for the rest of the playoffs he did an excellent job overall. As the lead defenceman on the second pairing, he still led all Canadiens defencemen in time on ice. With both of the top pairing in the penalty box quite often, Petry got extra ice time and used it well.
Brett Kulak – Grade: B+
Playoff Stats: 10 GP, 3A, +2, 0 PIM, 18:33 TOI, 19 Shots
Grade Comments: Kulak struggled a great deal during the regular season, but impressed me during this postseason. He fit in well with Jeff Petry as his partner and kept his game simple. He did take chances to jump into the play when it warranted but did not do so needlessly. In Game Three versus Pittsburgh, he scored a wraparound goal which was disallowed due to a Penguin dislodging the net. There was only one memorable bad pinch that Kulak made during both series which is not something I could say during any ten-game span of his during the regular season. An interesting fact, Kulak was the only Habs defenceman to not draw a penalty during the 10 games.
Xavier Ouellet – Grade: C+
Playoff Stats: 10 GP, 1A, +2, 14 PIM, 14:38 TOI, 9 Shots
Grade Comments: Before the first puck drop, I was a little surprised Ouellet was a starter in the bottom pairing. He started the season in the AHL, then was a call up in early February and managed to get into 12 games before the pandemic break. At that time, I did not feel he was very steady. To start the first series, he was on the second pairing with Jeff Petry but did not click in that situation. After he was dropped to the third pairing, his play improved. I did not have a great deal of confidence when I saw him on the ice but a few times he surprised me with a good play.
Victor Mete – Grade: C
Playoff Stats: 10 GP, 1A, +1, 2 PIM, 12:30 TOI, 1 Shot
Grade Comments: I felt the third pairing was the clear weakest link for the Canadiens. Victor was Shea Weber’s partner through a great deal of the regular season but was dropped for the postseason. From a coaching perspective that makes sense as the coach must have felt it was better to form a pair of veterans to help form their top shutdown duo. Victor is a young defenceman having completed his third season. He played well enough during the postseason and in my opinion, is better suited for the third pairing.