Steve Begin – Grade: A
Stats: 20 Games, 7 Goals, 4 Assists, +7, 45 Pim, 37 Shots, 1 PPG, 1 SHG, 2 GWG
TOI 281:21, TOI/Game 14:04, Faceoff WL 67-83, FO Win% 44.67, Hits 59, Takeaways 6, Giveaways 19, Blocked Shots 14
Comments: He has met the fans & coaches expectations of being the hardest working player on the team. For him to also contribute 7 goals and 4 assists exceeds the hopes of many. A few of the goals have been timely ones to win, take away or put away a game. He’s on track for a 40+ point season, and leads the team in plus minus. If you take away the 25 penalty minutes he was assessed in the game against Pittsburgh, then even his penalty stats are reasonable for a checking line/agitator line-type of player. He’s been a true warrior, the type that every winning team needs.
Jan Bulis – Grade: B-
Stats: 16 Games, 2 Goals, 3 Assists, +2, 14 Pim, 29 Shots, 1 GWG
TOI 236:13, TOI/Game 14:45, Faceoff WL 3-5, FO Win% 37.50, Hits 25, Takeaways 9, Giveaways 6, Blocked Shots 7
Comments: Bulis is an excellent defensive forward, as his skating and anticipation are top notch. He missed 4 games due to a shoulder injury and after his return he continues to play at the same high level. Given his offensive skills, he gives the fans the impression that he’ll become a more offensive player soon, but for now, he continues to excel in his defensive role given to him by the Habs coaches.
Radek Bonk – Grade: C-
Stats: 13 Games, 0 Goals, 5 Assists, 0 +/-, 14 Pim, 17 Shots
TOI 219:02, TOI/Games 16:50, Faceoff WL 111-114, FO Win% 49.33, Hits 13, Takeaways 12, Giveaways 5, Blocked Shots 10
Comments: Bonk’s defensive game has been good so far this season, but many expected him to contribute more offensively. Given his history with the Senators, those expectations may be unwarranted for his current role with his team now. The Canadiens already have 2 top centres and neither has lost any significant ice time due to injury. Should that occur, then Bonk may have a chance to pad his offensive stats with more ice time against weaker opposition lines. He has missed 7 of the first 20 games due to an injury to his groin and thigh, so he deserves a little patience.
Pierre Dagenais – Grade: F
Stats: 15 Games, 1 goal, 1 assist, -5, 14 Pim, 28 Shots
TOI 124:41, TOI/Game 8:18, Faceoff WL 22-26, FO Win% 45.83, Hits 9, Takeaways 2, Giveaways 2, Blocked Shots 1
Comments- Pierre has without a doubt been the most frustrating player to watch on the Canadiens this season. Many of the new NHL rules emphasize puck control and speed, neither of which are Dagenais’ strong points. He is a scorer, deadly when close to the net with the puck. His role with the team has gone from being a regular to being a healthy scratch, to being a replacement player when other younger forwards have been injured. His days with the Habs will be numbered if he doesn’t rebound soon.
Chris Higgins – Grade: B-
Stats: 20 Games, 3 Goals, 2 Assists, +3, 10 Pim, 29 Shots
TOI 225:03, TOI/Game 11:15, Faceoff WL 3-2, FO Win% 60.0, Hits 15, Takeaways 6, Giveaways 6, Blocked Shots 7
Comments: Higgins has lived up to the farm team reports about him, as his 2-way game has been well polished during his time in the AHL. He appears to play better when given more ice time, but that can be said about most players. He needs to finish his scoring chances more often to gain the coach’s confidence to give him more ice time on one of the top 2 lines.
Raitis Ivanans – Grade: Incomplete
Stats: 2 Games, no points, -1, 7 Pim
Saku Koivu – Grade: A
Stats: 20 Games, 8 goals, 17 assists, +4, 20 Pim, 46 shots, 2 PPG, 1 GWG
TOI 403:57, TOI/Game 20:11, Faceoff WL 226-195, FO Win% 53.68,
Hits 9, Takeaways 14, Giveaways 9, Blocked Shots 6
Comments – Captain K, year in and year out, has been the leader of this team in many ways. Koivu’s effort and production have been at a high level every game, and there’s no sign of that slowing down after losing his regular right winger, Kovalev for the upcoming weeks.
Alex Kovalev – Grade: A-
Stats: 18 Games, 7 Goals, 12 Assists, +3, 20 Pim, 59 Shots, 2 PPG
TOI 379:15, TOI/Game 21:04, Faceoff WL 8-6, FO Win% 57.14, Hits 10, Takeaways 15, Giveaways 13, Blocked Shots 5
Comments: Before his injury was announced, Kovalev was magical on the ice in most games. His speed, size, playmaking and effort have all been at a high level. His return from the surgery will be very welcome, so long as he doesn’t rush himself back. The team would rather see him healthy for the playoffs. He should have more goals at this point in the season, but since the effort is there it’s certain they will come in time.
Maxim Lapierre – Grade: Incomplete
Stats: 1 Game, no points, -1,
TOI 3:04, TOI/Game 3:04, Faceoff WL 1-1, FO Win% 50.0, Hits 1, Takeaways 0, Giveaways 0, Blocked Shots 0
Alex Perezhogin – Grade: B-
Stats: 19 Games, 4 Goals, 5 Assists, +3, 8 Pim, 36 Shots, 2 PPG, 1 GWG
TOI 207:45, TOI/Game 10:56, Faceoff WL 0-2, FO Win% 0, Hits 4, Takeaways 9, Giveaways 3, Blocked Shots 2
Comments: At the start of the season, he was on the top line and performing well. Some inconsistency led to a demotion to the 2nd line and then 4th line, where he’s struggled with little ice time. Perezhogin has shown a great deal of talent, and needs to recall that an NHL season, much like his only AHL season, is a long, difficult endurance test, both mentally and physically. His overall game has been good, as he has not hurt the Canadiens defensively, while contributing some offence.
Tomas Plekanec – Grade: C+
Stats: 20 Games, 2 Goals, 7 Assists, +6, 4 Pim, 28 Shots
TOI 233:49, TOI/Game 11:41, Faceoff WL 88-73, FO Win% 54.66, Hits 11, Takeaways 10, Giveaways 11, Blocked Shots 8
Comments: Tomas plays an intelligent game, with a little offensive skill, good skating and a good level of effort. His defensive game has been better than expected, as he’s been able to adapt easily to a 3rd line checking role. There’s still some offensive upside to his game, as he’s still adjusting to the faster level of the game at the NHL.
Mike Ribiero – Grade: C+
Stats: 20 Games, 6 Goals, 10 Assists, -5, 12 Pim, 37 Shots, 4 PPG, 2 GWG
TOI 335:15, TOI/Game 16:45, Faceoff WL 73-115, FO Win% 38.83, Hits 13, Takeaways 21, Giveaways 5, Blocked Shots 4
Comments: There has been visible evidence of more defensive effort this season, but unfortunately the stats do not bear that out. Offensively, he’s been inconsistent so far, but without Kovalev for the next few weeks, there will be even more pressure on him and the rest of the 2nd line to contribute more offence.
Michael Ryder – Grade: C+
Stats: 20 Games, 8 Goals, 5 Assists, -7, 12 Pim, 55 Shots, 5 PPG, 3 GWG
TOI 317:09, TOI/Game 15:51, Hits 32, Takeaways 8, Giveaways 10, Blocked Shots 5
Comments: Ryder has been effective on the power play, but his effort at even strength requires more work. As is the case with most 2nd year players, he needs to improve his consistency on both sides of the red line. His goals have helped his grade, but considering he’s not known to be a 1-way player then there’s room for improvement.
Niklas Sundstrom – Grade: B-
Stats: 16 Games, 3 Goals, 4 Assists, +4, 10 Pim, 16 Shots, 1 GWG
TOI 230:53, TOI/Game 14:24, Faceoff WL 0-4, FO Win% 0, Hits 2, Takeaways 19, Giveaways 5, Blocked Shots 9
Comments: Sundstrom is a consistent contributor for a checking line forward. His offensive contributions have been welcomed, considering he’s missed 4 games with a groin injury. His forte is that he plays a smart , low risk game, which is a very welcome attribute for his role on this team.
Richard Zednik – Grade: B+
Stats: 12 Games, 6 Goals, 4 Assists, +3, 4 Pim, 33 Shots, 2 PPG, 2 GWG
TOI 200:40, TOI/Games 16:43, Faceoff WL 1-1, FO Win% 50.0, Hits 17, Takeaways 5, Giveaways 6, Blocked Shots 3
Comments: He missed 8 games to start the season, but his contributions to the team since his return warrant him a good grade. When called upon, he’s scored big goals, particularly in the subsequent games to Kovalev’s injury. His defensive game does not hurt his team, and he’s on track for a career best season in goals and points.
Francis Bouillon – Grade: B+
Stats: 20 Games, 1 Goal, 5 Assists, -1, 10 Pim, 26 Shots, 1 PPG
TOI 393:41, TOI/Game 19:41, Hits 39, Takeaways 23, Giveaways 18, Blocked Shots 24
Comments: Before this season, Bouillon has been more of a banger than an offensive quarterback on the blueline. At the quarter mark of this season, he’s been very consistent defensively, while beginning to show offensive ability too. Francis makes fewer big hits than previous seasons to reduce the chance of putting himself out of position due to the quicker pace of the game. Cube has been contributing in the form of some fine rushes, and point shots that allow the forwards a chance to capitalize on rebounds.
Mathieu Dandenault – Grade: B-
Stats: 20 Games, 0 Goals, 5 Assists, +2, 22 Pim, 33 Shots
TOI 377:06, TOI/Game 18:51, Hits 19, Takeaways 8, Giveaways 13, Blocked Shots 15
Comments: Dandenault has been generally steady every game. His positional play is good, as he plays a smart and simple defensive game. He occasionally makes a noticeable defensive gaffe, but his speed usually allows him the chance to rectify it before any damage is done. His offensive game is average, but given his history when he was in Detroit, it’s at about the same level as can be expected. Three of his 5 assists have been on game winning goals.
Mike Komisarek – Grade: C
Stats: 18 Games, 0 Goals, 1 Assist, -2, 31 Pim, 13 Shots
TOI 255:44, TOI/Game 14:12, Hits 38, Takeaways 4, Giveaways 12, Blocked Shots 13
Comments: Mike has played a physical yet controlled style so far this season. At times, he can decimate an opponent with a check. Other times, he tends to use his stick first to slow down an opponent and that has landed him in the penalty box at inopportune times. He’s still adjusting to the way the rules are being applied by the referees this season, and is still learning his position, and has been a healthy scratch a few times this season. He has good skating ability for a man his size, but often over-handles the puck, and does not shoot often enough. Defensemen are traditionally slow to develop compared to forwards and goalies, and the Habs have to show patience with Komisarek.
Andrei Markov – Grade: A
Stats: 20 Games, 2 Goals, 8 Assists, +5, 30 Pim, 36 Shots, 1 PPG
TOI 489:46, TOI/Game 24:29, Hits 13, Takeaways 25, Giveaways 19, Blocked Shots 30
Comments: After a rough start offensively, Markov has stepped up to become the #1 defenseman on this squad. When it comes to defense, his game has been very good, particularly when he’s been given the task to neutralize the opposition team’s top scorer. Markov plays an intelligent game with and without the puck, and has been known to produce a big defensive play nearly every game. He is the team’s blueline leader and go-to guy in any important situation.
Craig Rivet – Grade: A
Stats: 20 Games, 3 Goals, 5 Assists, +6, 11 Pim, 36 Shots, 3 PPG
TOI 440:06, TOI/Game 22:00, Faceoff WL 0-2, FO Win% 0, Hits 24, Takeaways 11, Giveaways 16, Blocked Shots 20
Comments: Clearly, Rivet has adjusted well to the new NHL rules, contributing more on offence than previous seasons. His defensive game has stayed at a high level, and he still displays a tough side when it’s necessary. Considering he’s the least penalized defenseman among the regulars that shows how well he’s controlled his game to keep from drawing penalties under the higher scrutiny by the referees. His improved offensive play has led to power play time, during which he’s capitalized well, leading the defensemen in goals.
Sheldon Souray – Grade: C-
Stats: 19 Games, 1 Goal, 4 Assists, -1, 22 Pim, 32 Shots, 1 PPG
TOI 374:52, TOI/Game 19:43, Hits 31, Takeaways 14, Giveaways 26, Blocked Shots 26
Comments: After a disappointing start, in part due to personal problems, Souray’s game has improved defensively. His offensive game is still lacking, particularly after his fine play last season. He has not played well under the new NHL rules, as many of the penalties he’s earned have been due to poor judgment. He leads the defensemen in blocked shots and giveaways.
Mark Streit – Grade D+
Stats: 11 Games, 0 Goals, 3 Assists, 0 +/-, 8 Pim, 13 Shots
TOI 126:41, TOI/Game 11:31, Faceoff WL 0-1, FO Win% 0, Hits 6, Takeaways 2, Giveaways 7, Blocked Shots 7
Comments: Streit posses good skating and passing ability, but has not yet adapted to the North American style of play, despite having played in the AHL a few years ago. He needs to produce on offence, particularly since it was expected to be the biggest part of his game. His defensive side has been average, sometimes he’s effective, but sometimes he’s struggled.
Yann Danis – Grade: B
Stats: 4 Games, 225 Minutes, 3 Wins, 0 Losses
1 Shutout, 7 GA, 1.87 GAA, 97 Saves, .933 Sv%
Comments: His first career start was a 2-0 shutout in Atlanta, and his first start at home was a 4-3 OT win against Florida. For a native born Quebecer, Yann must feel like he’s living a dream to be a goalie for the Habs. His play to date has been generally good. His style is controlled, allowing few rebounds, staying in a good position most times, and wasting little movement unnecessarily in the crease.
Jose Theodore – Grade: C+
Stats: 17 Games, 994 Minutes, 10 Wins, 4 Losses [incl 1 OTL, 1 SOL]
0 Shutouts, 50 GA, 3.02 GAA, 389 Saves, .886 Sv%
Comments: Theodore was good in the first two games, then ran into some technical problems with his game that lead him to allow more than his usual amount of goals. After some fine tuning with goalie coach Roland Melanson, his play has improved. Most nights Jose has made the big stop to keep his team in the game.