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Credit must be given where credit is due... Montreal possesses depth this year unlike any other season in recent memory. It is through this depth, for which Marc Bergevin is at least partially responsible, that February's 3 Stars are almost completely different than those of January. This is a stark contrast to last season, when the results could have been copy/pasted from month to month. This month, Peter Budaj, David Desharnais, Lars Eller, Alexei Emelin, Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher, Josh Gorges, Andrei Markov, Max Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec, Carey Price and P.K. Subban all received votes for the top honours.
#1 - Max Pacioretty (13GP - 6 Goals - 6 Assists - 12 Points - Plus 5 Rating)
Max Pacioretty has been nicknamed "Wolverine" due to possessing healing powers similar to the Marvel superhero. Returning sooner than most expected from an emergency appendectomy, Pacioretty led all Canadiens in goals, points and shots per game. Having only tallied assists until an odd bounce beat Cam Ward from the centre line, Max flung the monkey off his back with great relish, and we fans were treated to the sniping we had grown accustomed to seeing last year. Pacioretty rekindled his chemistry with pivot Desharnais, and seems to have found a new complement in Brendan Gallagher, which has become the de facto number 1 line for the Canadiens. Last, but not least, Pacioretty was resilient enough to not develop rabies after allegedly being bitten by Mikael Grabovski.
78% of 1st Star votes, 12% of 2nd Star votes, 7% of 3rd Star votes.
#2 - Brendan Gallagher (11GP - 4 Goals - 1 Assist - 5 Points - Plus 5 Rating)
With the impact he has on games, one might mistakenly assume that Brendan Gallagher is 6'3" and 230lbs. This clearly isn't the case, but Gallagher seems oblivious to this fact; he comports himself with a much larger presence on the ice, much to the chagrin of the opposition. With Desharnais' line firing blanks early on, coach Michel Therrien promoted the rookie, even with conventional wisdom questioning the decision to pair two of Montreal's "smurfs" together. This second-guessing didn't last long, as Gallagher's net-crashing quickly made the line "click", Erik Cole obsolete, and undoubtedly precipitated the trade with Dallas. Although more points will likely come from "Gally", it is noteworthy that 50% of his goals were game-winners in the month of February.
9% of 1st Star votes, 25% of 2nd Star votes, 20% of 3rd Star votes.
#3 - Carey Price (7-2-2, 1.87 GAA, .925 SV%)
Month after month, it's become difficult to write anything new about Carey Price. Yes, he remains the backbone of this franchise. Yes, he gives Montreal a chance to win almost every single game. Yes, he may have an addiction to obtaining new and original masks. Jokes aside, Carey had a terrific month, surrendering more than 3 goals only twice, and recording two shutouts. Currently leading the league in wins, Price should be a likely candidate for the Vezina trophy should his performance continue in this matter.
6% of 1st Star votes, 17% of 2nd Star votes, 6% of 3rd Star votes.
HM - David Desharnais (14GP - 4 Goals - 6 Assists - 10 Points - Plus 2 Rating)
After recording a mere 2 points in the month of January, Desharnais rebounded in February. His 10 points were second only to Max Pacioretty, and his play was more reminiscent of what we had seen last season. Gelling well with Pacioretty and Gallagher, Desharnais' smart play created numerous chances, and their line quickly became the top contributors on the scoresheet on most nights. Although better results could be obtained in the faceoff circle (currently .475%), Desharnais was a key cog in Montreal's successes last month.
0% of 1st Star votes, 17% of 2nd Star votes, 13% of 3rd Star votes.
Thanks to all that voted, and we'll see you next month!