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Montreal's offence got off to a relatively strong start to the season, averaging just under three goals per game in the first quarter of the year. The Habs' attack so far has been balanced with seven players averaging at least a half a point per game compared to just four doing so last year. Our first quarter grades conclude with a closer look at how all of the forwards have played so far.
Stats are as of games played through Tuesday, February 12th.
Colby Armstrong: C-: It's safe to say that he hasn't and isn't going to re-discover the scoring touch that eluded him in his days with the Maple Leafs but Armstrong has been useful in other areas most nights. He has played reasonably well on the penalty kill and is developing some chemistry with Eller on a fourth line that is becoming surprisingly more offensive minded by the game.
Stats: 12 GP, 0 goals 1 assist, even rating, 6 PIMS, 12 SOG, 14 hits, 6 blocks
Rene Bourque: B: Despite his struggles last year, he was going to be counted on to be a consistent top-six scorer and Bourque has done just that this season. He is using his size much more effectively and is regularly driving the net with a purpose. That's the player the Habs were hoping he'd be when they traded for him last season.
Stats: 12 GP, 3 goals, 4 assists, -1 rating, 22 PIMS, 34 SOG, 18 hits, 4 blocks
Erik Cole: C: Yes, Cole has struggled considerably at the offensive end this season but to his credit, he has stepped up his game physically. He has the reputation of being a slow starter and his skating looks a step slow as well. He needs to get out of his funk sooner than later but he hasn't been a total waste this year either as some suggest.
Stats: 12 GP, 2 goals, 2 assists, -1 rating, 10 PIMS, 28 SOG, 29 hits, 3 blocks
David Desharnais: C-: The only element of his game that carried over into this season is his unwillingness to shoot. His intensity level and attention to detail have been inconsistent and he hasn't been the catalyst for his linemates like we all hoped he'd be able to be again.
Stats: 12 GP, 2 goals, 3 assists, -6 rating, 12 PIMS, 13 SOG, 3 hits, 7 blocks
Lars Eller: C+: After landing in Michel Therrien's dog house early on, Eller has done well not only in terms of generating offence from the fourth line but also in terms of earning Therrien's trust. Eller is back on the penalty kill and is beginning to take faceoffs more often (although that may be a by-product of the fact that the other centres are simply terrible at the dot). His physical game has really stepped up early on as well.
Stats: 10 GP, 1 goal, 4 assists, even rating, 6 PIMS, 22 SOG, 19 hits, 4 blocks
Alex Galchenyuk: B+: The Habs' 1st rounder got off to a terrific (and unsustainable) start to the season, and has shown that he is ready to play at this level. However, he has tailed off somewhat in recent games which is understandable for any rookie. All in all though, he is making the most of the sheltered minutes he has received so far and should soon see his ice time increase a bit.
Stats: 12 GP, 1 goal, 6 assists, +6 rating, 4 PIMS, 18 SOG, 2 hits, 3 blocks
Brendan Gallagher: A: After being a healthy scratch in the opener, Gallagher has been arguably the most pleasant surprise of the early season. He is probably the most aggressive player on the ice, doesn't back down from the physical play (he instigates it more often than not), and has shown himself to be a reliable scorer as well. I think it will be a while before he sits again.
Stats: 11 GP, 4 goals, 2 assists, +5 rating, 15 PIMS, 24 SOG, 23 hits, 4 blocks
Brian Gionta: B-: Statistically he isn't off to a bad start to the year but I think most would agree he has had the lowest impact on his line. The captain, as usual, hasn't shied away from shooting the puck but at times has picked bad angles to shoot from which has quashed some scoring opportunities. If he could pick and choose his spots better, I think his line could have even more success.
Stats: 12 GP, 3 goals, 3 assists, -1 rating, 2 PIMS, 31 SOG, 16 hits, 4 blocks
Travis Moen: D+: His role has diminished somewhat this season (and that's a good thing) but Moen hasn't adapted well to it. When he was at his best he was playing with a high level of aggression but for the most part this year his play has been rather passive. He has played better in recent games with Eller and Armstrong which hopefully can carry over into the next quarter.
Stats: 11 GP, 1 goal, 1 assist, even rating, 14 PIMS, 8 SOG, 14 hits, 6 blocks
Max Pacioretty: C+: Although he still hasn't managed to get a goal this season, last years' top scorer has had some good moments but as was the case with his linemates, he needs to be more productive. He's still doing the little things to put himself in goal scoring situations, I suspect it's only a matter of time before he gets one.
Stats: 8 GP, 0 goals, 6 assists, -2 rating, 12 PIMS, 25 SOG, 11 hits, 3 blocks
Tomas Plekanec: A-: He and Bourque have developed some instant chemistry this year while most nights Plekanec is the Habs' best defensive forward. Basically, it's same old, same old, even with his poor faceoff play. Beyond that, he just needs to keep doing what he has been doing.
Stats: 12 GP, 6 goals, 5 assists, -3 rating, 8 PIMS, 38 SOG, 2 hits, 3 blocks
Brandon Prust: C+: He has held his own being used in an offensive role, even if the scoring numbers aren't there to back it up. His simple style works well on a line with a pair of rookies and as we've all seen he is willing to stick up for his teammates as well. He also has played well with extended penalty kill minutes.
Stats: 12 GP, 1 goal, 2 assists, +4 rating, 69 PIMS, 11 SOG, 23 hits, 6 blocks
Ryan White: D+: Beyond his repeated errors for going over the edge, White has actually been a useful player for the Habs. He has done well at the faceoff dot, plays a physical style, and can log some minutes shorthanded, all of which are areas the Habs could use him in. But he's going to have a hard time re-earning the trust of the coaches as his penalty trouble has made him a liability.
Stats: 7 GP, 1 goal, 0 assists, +1 rating, 46 PIMS, 9 SOG, 15 hits, 1 block
- First Quarter Grades: Goalies & Defence posted by B. La Rose