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- January hasn't been a kind month for Lars Eller. He has just 12 points in 44 games, his lowest PPG average of any month.
Through the first quarter of the 2013-14 season, the Montreal Canadiens managed to keep above .500 with their 10-9-2 record. With significant injuries occurring throughout the line-up, several players were given the opportunity to steal a larger role, and a few made notable impacts. The quarterly grades begin with the defencemen and goaltenders.
Statistics include games played up to until November 16th, 2013.
Peter Budaj (A-): Budaj began the season in the same effective
manner in which he played in the lockout-shortened season. Despite playing
in the vast minority of games, usually only seeing ice-time when the Habs played
back-to-back games, Budaj was sharp in every outing and never a liability.
Although I can't see Budaj maintaining the statistics he's earned thus far,
Budaj is proving thus far to be one of the league's best backup goalies.
1st Quarter Stats: 4 GP, 3-1-0 record, 1.48 GAA, .946 SV%, 1 SO
Carey Price (A): Although it is not his responsibility alone, the lack of a winning record is all that prevented Carey from earning an A+ for the first quarter. Price solidified his chances to represent Canada at the 2014 Olympics, and early evidence suggests that new goalie coach Stephane Waite has Carey playing more comfortably in net. Without Price in goal, the Habs' record would be significantly worse, as Carey kept his team in every game. In 17 games, Price allowed 4 goals only three times; all other games were 3 or less.
1st Quarter Stats: 17 GP, 7-8-2 record, 2.05 GAA, .936 SV%, 1 SO
Nathan Beaulieu (D+): In the first quarter, Beaulieu received more recognition for his yoyo travels between recalls from Hamilton to Montreal than for his gameplay. When he was finally given the opportunity to play, he did well with limited minutes, as he demonstrated above average skating and puck-moving. Despite proving to be adequate in the NHL, Beaulieu didn't give management any reason to keep him up, and he was sent down to the Bulldogs once healthy bodies started returning to Montreal's line-up.
1st Quarter Stats: 5 GP, 1 assist, +2 rating, 0 PIM, 1 shot, 6 blocks, 2 hits
Francis Bouillon (B-): A favourite of Michel Therrien, Bouillon was utilised more than anyone would have expected at the outset of the season. At 38, this may have hurt more than helped the Canadiens, as his -10 rating was easily the worst on the team. Nevertheless, Bouillon continues to give his all every game, never backing down from any battle, and does whatever his team requires of him.
1st Quarter Stats: 21 GP, 2 assists, -10 rating, 13 PIM, 13 shots, 32 blocks, 24 hits
Raphael Diaz (B+): Diaz surprised everyone early on in the season, earning more ice-time than Andrei Markov and P.K. Subban on several occasions as he proved his game consisted of more than just a canon on the second PP unit. While considerably undersized to play a physical game, Diaz used solid positioning to defend at even-strength and short-handed situations, and trailed only Josh Gorges in shots blocked.
1st Quarter Stats: 21 GP, 7 assists, +2 rating, 13 PIM, 13 shots, 52 blocks, 6 hits
Alexei Emelin (N/A): Playing only a single game this quarter, it is hard to access Emelin's game. At a quick glance, Emelin's agility and speed seemed unchanged since before his injury, and his willingness to crash bodies remained as evident as ever.
1st Quarter Stats: 1 GP, even rating, 2 blocks, 3 hits
Josh Gorges (B): Few things ever change about Josh Gorges' game. He remains a consistent top-4 defender who plays an unremarkable, yet effective game, and habitually leads his team in shots blocked. His play seldom costs his team, and from what I can discern from 24CH, he is one of the team's most vocal leaders.
1st Quarter Stats: 21 GP, 1 goal, 3 assists, +1 rating, 4 PIM, 12 shots,
54 blocks, 30 hits
Andrei Markov (A): Few will argue that Markov is the same player that he was prior to his plethora of injuries, but the good news is that he is finding new ways to be effective. Although his vision and playmaking remain as brilliant as ever, Markov's hockey intelligence is what has critics now drawing comparisons to Nicklas Lidstrom. Paired with P.K. Subban, Markov is an offensive threat at even-strength, and is absolutely deadly on the first power play wave.
1st Quarter Stats: 21 GP, 2 goals, 9 assists, +7 rating, 10 PIM, 40 shots,
49 blocks, 15 hits
Douglas Murray (C): Murray missed the beginning of the season due to injury, and his insertion to the line-up saw the Canadiens' blue-line improve in the physical department. His arrival definitely bolstered the PK, as it went 6 games without surrendering a shorthanded goal. Despite his unmatched physicality, Murray's limited mobility proved to be a liability in a few games, and he understandably was reassigned to the press box once the more capable Alexei Emelin returned to action.
1st Quarter Stats: 9 GP, -5 rating, 4 PIM, 2 shots, 26 blocks, 25 hits
P.K. Subban (A+): P.K. began his defence of his Norris Trophy in the same way in which he won it... by showcasing his dominance on a consistent basis. Through the first quarter, Subban trailed only Erik Karlsson for points by a defenceman and he led the Canadiens in scoring. With all the drama created by the media (e.g., contract negotiations, reduced ice-time, possible exclusion from Team Canada for the Olympics), it would be understandable if the young defender's game faltered; however, P.K. seems to be made of stronger stuff, and he remains an indispensible part of the Canadiens.
1st Quarter Stats: 21 GP, 3 goals, 14 assists, +4 rating, 20 PIM, 72 shots, 31 blocks, 25 hits
Jarred Tinordi (D+): Much like Beaulieu, Tinordi was given a shot at a roster spot due to the surplus of injuries at the season's outset. It was thought that Tinordi's physical edge might earn him a permanent spot on the team, but aside from giving Carter Ashton a solid thrashing on opening night, Tinordi didn't do much to make a case for himself. More AHL seasoning is clearly needed, but there were glimpses of his potential in his limited ice-time.
1st Quarter Stats: 6 GP, even rating, 9 PIM, 1 shot, 6 blocks, 8 hits