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The little man’s first full season with the Montreal Canadiens was one of the few bright spots of last year’s horrendous season. The Canadiens’ only viable threat throughout the year was the line that Desharnais was centering, helping both of his linemates achieve career highs in offensive output. There is no reason to think anything will change this year.
I don’t think anyone thought Desharnais would become the number one center last year, completing a third of the team’s most productive unit. The space that Erik Cole and Max Pacioretty opened up for him to distribute the puck paid immediate dividends as his chemistry with Pacioretty continued to blossom. Cole’s ability to slide into the lineup seamlessly didn’t hurt either. At every level he has played, Desharnais has shown improvement year-by-year. At 25 years old, he’s riding into his prime so logic points to better numbers. We have yet to see what Michel Therrien will do with the lines in 2012-2013 but I can’t see how he could split up the team’s most potent offensive line combination. I'm not sure about his linemates but I see Desharnais reaching new career highs this year.
Season stats: 81 GP, 16 G, 44 A, 60 PTS, +10 rating, 24 PIM, 3 PPG, 0 SHG, 98 Shots, 18:03 ATOI
Desharnais' only full season was last year, so we include his 2010-11 totals in lieu of a 5-year average.
As mentioned last season was a breakout year for the 25-year old Desharnais. He displayed wonderful vision and shared an effective partnership with Cole and Pacioretty. End result? The Canadiens’ most dangerous line through the 2011-2012 season. Expectations will be high and rightfully so. With two young guns and an aging vet who still plays like a kid, this line should torment the opposition. Desharnais will be charged with quarterbacking this trio and Habs nation will expect positive results. His two power forwards should, in theory, open the space necessary for Desharnais to work some of his magic, find tight passing lanes resulting in some goals. It’s yet to be seen what kind of system Therrien will employ, but bet on Desharnais being a central focus to the offensive part of these plans.
Putting up 60 points in 81 games on one the league’s worst teams last year was an achievement in itself. Look for more this year. As a firm believer that it can’t get any worse, I see an all around better team in the upcoming season with Desharnais as one of the focal points. Again, in no universe can I see Therrien breaking up the club’s most effective line. Desharnais already has brilliant chemistry with Pacioretty and Cole figured him out early enough to produce career highs in output. Desharnais will get more production this year and I think that will coincide with the health of his wingers. If Pacioretty and Cole can stay healthy for 80ish games, look for a rise in stats.
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