With the first half of the season past, it’s time to grade the Canadiens players’ performances for the second quarter of the season.
Players must have played in at least five games to receive a grade.
Fan Vote Average: 5.28, Writer Vote Average: 3.80
Unlike the consistency of teammate Allen, Montembault’s play has been much more inconsistent. In three of his six starts during this stretch, he allowed three goals or fewer; in the other three games he allowed six or seven goals. As a result, both his goals against average and save percentage were terrible for the second quarter. I know the sample size is not much, but it is typical for a backup goalie in the NHL.
Stats: 6 GP, 1-4-1 record, 4.70 GAA, .871 SV%
Fan Vote Average: 4.94, Writer Vote Average: 4.60
Allen continued his average play in the second quarter of this season. His save percentage was almost identical to the first quarter, but his goals-against average actually dropped to 3.43. Jake was less of a factor in losses for this stretch of games, which is another way of saying he played somewhat better but his team did not help him out very much. He suffered an injury that was announced before game forty-one against Seattle, which is what I predicted would happen in the first quarter grade article.
Stats: 14 GP, 4-9-1 record, 3.43 GAA, .894 SV%
Fan Vote Average: 7.63, Writer Vote Average: 6.80
Guhle continued to get top-pairing minutes in most games for Montreal. Like all his fellow rookies on the blueline, Kaiden continues to develop under fire. Sometimes his rookie mistakes look typical. Other times, his positional play is below average, and he’s unable to contain an opponent in the corner or slot, and the resulting play leads to a goal against. He shows good potential to eventually settle into a top role and become more of a steady shutdown player. It’s not clear to me why he has been granted so little power play time, especially since the team has been at the bottom of the league all season in that category. His six points were behind Xhekaj by one. A lower-body injury has kept him out of the lineup since December 31st and will do so for the foreseeable future.
Stats: 15 GP, 1 G, 5 A, 6 Pts, -8 Rating, 0 PIM, 19 Shots, 29 Hits, 30 Blocked Shots, 21:19 ATOI
Fan Vote Average: 6.78, Writer Vote Average: 6.00
Xhekaj continues to surprise fans with a very solid start to his rookie career. His offensive production of seven points exceeded the first quarter by one. Coming from a junior player who was not known for his offensive abilities, I am pleased to see him excel in this area. Defensively he makes typical rookie mistakes, but I believe he will continue to develop at the pro level. Arber was a healthy scratch twice during this second quarter. That was usually due to getting another bottom-level defenceman back into the lineup, rather than a reflection of his bad play. He shows toughness when needed, and will engage in a fight when necessary. So far, he has either won all his fights or been assessed split decisions. His five goals lead all NHL rookie defencemen in that category.
Stats: 19 GP, 2 G, 5 A, 7 Pts, -5 Rating, 20 PIM, 26 Shots, 50 Hits, 14 Blocked Shots, 15:00 ATOI
Fan Vote Average: 6.34, Writer Vote Average: 6.00
Harris continues to play a steady defensive game for the Canadiens. However, he finished the quarter on a cold streak going pointless in his last seven games. Despite that, he managed six points, one more than in the first quarter. Harris, with frequent partner Jonathan Kovacevic, leads the team as the most common blueline pairing for the team. He was a healthy scratch only once this quarter.
Stats: 19 GP, 0 G, 6 A, 6 Pts, -6 Rating, 10 PIM, 13 Shots, 17 Hits, 21 Blocked Shots, 18:01 ATOI
Fan Vote Average: 6.19, Writer Vote Average: 5.80
Kovacevic along with Harris, was Montreal’s most consistent defenceman this quarter. While neither generates a lot on offence, they each provide a little help in that area. His defensive play fits in well with this team, and he keeps his mistakes to a minimum. Kovacevic scored his first NHL goal on December 6th versus Seattle. I see him fitting into a solid bottom pair defender on this team. Due to the numbers game, he was a healthy scratch twice during this quarter.
Stats: 18 GP, 1 G, 3 A, 4 Pts, -4 Rating, 14 PIM, 14 Shots, 20 Hits, 22 Blocked Shots, 18:25 ATOI
Fan Vote Average: 5.66, Writer Vote Average: 4.20
David Savard missed about two-thirds of the games in the second quarter due to an upper-body injury. He returned to the lineup on December 3rd. When paired with fellow veteran Joel Edmundson in his few games back, the duo has been a disaster together. Savard is still a very effective shot blocker, and will occasionally pinch in with the puck to try to generate some offensive chances. He’s not very effective at it but is not the worst blueliner on this team.
Stats: 7 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 Pts, -3 Rating, 4 PIM, 10 Shots, 5 Hits, 20 Blocked Shots, 22:20 ATOI
Fan Vote Average: 5.00, Writer Vote Average: 4.40
Mike Matheson has had terrible luck to start his journey with the Habs. After being obtained during an offseason trade with Pittsburgh, Matheson was first injured late during training camp, in early October. Initial reports listed this as a lower-body injury; later, there were general reports it was in the abdomen area. I will speculate that this could be a sports hernia, albeit a minor one since this type of injury is usually solved by surgery. He returned to the lineup on November 19th and scored a big goal. Mike has missed more games than he has played in the second quarter. When he is in the lineup, he is productive offensively and plays top pairing minutes, but occasionally suffers a defensive lapse. He had been out of the lineup since December 19th with a lower-body injury; it’s not known if this was new or a recurrence of the earlier injury. (He did return earlier this week.)
Stats: 6 GP, 0 G, 4 A, 4 Pts, -2 Rating, 6 PIM, 14 Shots, 11 Hits, 4 Blocked Shots, 24:31 ATOI
Fan Vote Average: 4.34, Writer Vote Average: 2.20
To me, Joel Edmundson was the worst defenceman for Montreal this quarter. The statistics and eye test all back this up. Many times he was out of position in a goal-against situation, or made the wrong play in his own end that directly leads to a goal in the Habs net. Although he has great size and can play a physical game with gusto, I don’t see him fitting into the coach’s style which favors mobility. There’s a reason Carolina traded him away after only one season; they realized he didn’t fit into their puck possession system either. If the Habs can trade him for a first-round pick or even a high second-round pick, I will consider it a minor miracle.
Stats: 20 GP, 0 G, 3 A, 3 Pts, -12 Rating, 35 PIM, 21 Shots, 41 Hits, 48 Blocked Shots, 20:24 ATOI
Fan Vote Average: 4.03, Writer Vote Average: 3.60
Chris Wideman is the only plus-rated defenceman on the Canadiens this quarter. Let that sink in for a moment. Under coach Martin St. Louis, Chris appears to have gotten the most out of his defensive assignments. Unfortunately, he has sacrificed any offensive production by producing zero points. Both of those statements surprised me about Wideman, especially compared to the way he played last season. If you are quietly effective and not noticeable, you must be doing a good job as a bottom pairing defenceman.
Stats: GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 Pts, +3 Rating, 34 PIM, 7 Shots, 11 Hits, 17 Blocked Shots, 13:19 ATOI