January wasn’t a great month for the Habs overall but a few players managed some decent performances. The votes have been tabulated and here is who our readers voted for as Montreal’s three stars for the month.
1st Star: Kirby Dach – Well, this one shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Dach did still spend some time on the wing but spent a lot of the month playing down the middle. After struggling in that role at the beginning of the year, the opposite occurred as he thrived. I’m not just talking about offensive play either. Dach’s size and strength make him a physical presence when he wants to be but he hasn’t always played that way. He did more often than not in January and the results speak for themselves. Here’s hoping he gets to stay down the middle down the stretch to help the team assess what exactly they have in him.
Stats: 14 GP, 6 goals, 4 assists, 10 points, even rating, 15 PIMS, 35 shots, 20:02 TOI, 48.7% faceoffs
2nd Star: Rafael Harvey-Pinard – The rookie was only up for half of the games but he certainly made an impression as he was tied for second on the team in goals behind only Dach. Is the 24-year-old going to keep scoring at a 35.7% clip? Of course not. But Harvey-Pinard’s recall helped bring some spark to the bottom six as he looks to make his case for a full-time role next season. It’s safe to say his first impression was a strong one.
Stats: 7 GP, 5 goals, 1 assist, 6 points, +4 rating, 2 PIMS, 14 shots, 14:02 TOI, 22 hits
3rd Star: Samuel Montembeault – In most of his appearances last month, Montembeault gave the Habs a legitimate chance to win. With a team as banged up as the Canadiens have been, it’s hard to ask for much more than that. What has been more impressive is that the frequency of the big stops has been increasing which is certainly a positive sign. I’m not convinced that he should be part of the long-term plans but he has definitely played his way into earning a regular look down the stretch with Jake Allen struggling upon his return.
Stats: 10 GP, 4-6-0 record, 3.14 GAA, .915 SV%
Honourable Mention: Michael Pezzetta – I didn’t see this one coming but there was a late rally for him in the voting over the last couple of days to narrowly get him this spot. Pezzetta was part of the new-look fourth line that was quite impactful in the second half of the month while he played with his usual gritty style. The rash of injuries has provided the 24-year-old with a strong opportunity to make his case for a regular spot beyond this season. He hasn’t been hurting his chances so far.
Stats: 12 GP, 1 goal, 2 assists, 3 points, +1 rating, 13 PIMS, 10 shots, 9:43 TOI, 54 hits (team-high)