With the first month of the season having passed, it’s time to take a closer
look at how each player performed in October. Each player has been graded
on their play throughout the month and the first couple of games so far in
November with some commentary on stats, performance, ice time, and more.
Alex Auld A+
Having won the only game he’s played in so far, Auld proved that he is capable of doing what management hired him to do: be a docile backup to Price, and play well when called for on occasion. However, since that game Auld won against the Islanders, it must be noted Price has not recorded a victory. I would play Auld a little more often in order to give Price a break now and then.
Carey Price A-
In nine games this season, Carey has allayed fears and even provided a sense of relief for fans, for he has not been the single reason for any of the Habs’ losses this season. The difference between last year’s Price and this year’s Price is so markedly different. He is more confident, more mature, less willing to fold after a goal against. His teammates are starting to trust him, which allows the D to rely on Price to be the last line of defence in any situation. The forwards are helping out as well by providing offence and keeping the puck in the offensive zone. For someone who was an unknown factor before October 7th, Price is doing a fantastic job. However, Price should work on his tendency to allow third-period goals in tight games, which can really put a strain on the team and lead them to lose more games than necessary.
Josh Gorges A
Gorges has been solid in almost every game this season. In the past two games, Hal Gill’s play has been deteriorating, making it seem that this is the case with Gorges as well. Perhaps splitting up the
pair will help, but before the current mini-slump, Gorges was playing as well could be expected given last year’s playoffs: blocking shots, making sound defensive decisions and even pitching in on the offence. The only disquieting stat is Gorges’
P.K. Subban A
The rookie has continued to impress, displaying his skating skills, agility, puck control, and ability to make consistently smart defensive choices while maintaining a mature and upbeat attitude throughout. He has become part of the team and it shows in the way he handles his responsibilities with aplomb. Subban is +5 and has 6 assists in 12 games, and positive signs about his development are all over the ice.
Alexandre Picard B+
Playing in just 9 games, Picard has reached a remarkable +7, played surprisingly well defensively and been solid when needed. I would use Picard more often, just because he is playing so well, while also setting up a few goals along the way. Picard
looks quite comfortable out there, and was an excellent defensive partner with Subban. A great acquisition in my opinion.
Roman Hamrlik B
For about 9 games, it seemed as if Hamrlik had actually benefited from missing training camp, he was playing that well. The past few games have not been the same, and together with the entire team, Hammer’s play has deteriorated rapidly. It’s possible he’s not in perfect game shape and his timing is off, but these will improve. The only thing I’d watch is his TOI because he is not a youngster anymore.
Jaroslav Spacek B-
Spacek is hardly the worst player on the roster, but being directly responsible for goals against is hardly encouraging. He appears slow, outmatched by opponents and is struggling mightily.
Hal Gill B-
Blocking shots and generally playing as he did in the playoffs worked for a few games, but Gill has cooled off and is now -4. He appears slow and unsteady at times, and is a liability in some games.
Andrei Markov C
Since his return from injury, the Canadiens’ top defenceman has appeared laboured, is having shot accuracy trouble, and is most assuredly not in top form. Once he gets back into game shape, his timing will improve and we’ll see the old Markov again. For now, it appears his return has shaken up the team, and not in a good way. They have yet to win with him in the lineup.
Ryan O’Byrne D
O’Byrne has played a grand total of three games and whatever he did, it was enough to bench him for the rest of the apparent season. If he starts playing again, his confidence will have been shattered and he’ll have to start from scratch to prove himself all over again. I don’t know what Habs management intend to do with O’Byrne, but they have to do something.
Andrei Kostitsyn A+
The new season has seen Kostitsyn make an almost 360 turnaround in his game. He has improved in all areas, scoring, hitting, and playing defensively. Andrei is truly a changed player, with 10 points in 9 games, carrying the second-highest +/- on the team (+7) and just one minor penalty.
Tomas Plekanec A+
Plekanec is proving just why he signed a six-year, $30 million dollar deal with the Habs. He also seems to be choosing more wisely between shooting and passing on his patented breakaways with
Kostitsyn/anyone. He is killing penalties just like he did last season. Incidentally, the Habs have killed all 15 short-handed situations on the road, and 16/21 at home.
Jeff Halpern A
The Canadiens signed Halpern for very specific reasons, and he has excelled at all of them. He is averaging over 60% in the faceoff circle, which has really improved the Habs’ chances for puck control. He has 3 goals and 4 assists, with a stunning shooting percentage of 30%, the best by far on the team. Given the low price he signed for, Halpern has more than delivered for the team.
Mike Cammalleri B
What can be said when the league’s top scorer in last year’s playoffs stops scoring? Evidently, he is struggling. While not alone in this situation on the Habs’ roster,
Cammalleri does have 7 points in 11 games, and remember, the season is still young. Given the way he scored that beautiful PP goal against Phoenix, we know he still has the vision but that right now, things like bounces and passes are not going his way. Things will start clicking and this line will keep producing, the chemistry they have together will show.
Travis Moen B
Moen has not been a complementary winger for Gomez and Gionta, but on the other hand, he has not played badly. He is simply not a high-scoring winger. In addition, he’s racked up 20 minutes in penalties and a short-handed goal vs. the Islanders.
Lars Eller B
The rookie brought over in the deal for Halak has shown promise, and his work ethic is impeccable. Once he starts scoring, his confidence will allow him to be more creative and his play will improve. He is often one of the most hardworking forwards on the team, and just had to click with his linemates.
Mathieu Darche B-
Having played eight games, Darche has worked hard, forechecking and scoring a couple of key goals. However, he is not effective every game and should not
take precedence over giving Boyd a chance.
Brian Gionta C
The new C on his jersey has not improved anything for Gionta, who is continuing to struggle. Gionta is certainly trying, he is 9th in the league with 47 shots on goal. He has tried planting himself in front of the opposing goalie but he is not that big to make a decent screen. No doubt, Gionta and Gomez will start producing simultaneously, solving two of the Habs’ biggest problems.
Maxim Lapierre C
Definitely not getting off to a fantastic start, Lapierre has 2 points in 12 games, is a -2 and has 16 minutes in penalties. While there have been flashes of his old playoff self, hitting and forechecking effectively, eating up minutes, and irritating opponents, Lapierre is falling back into the same pattern of inconsistency that’s been troubling him for the past few seasons. He needs to find a way to be effective every game, every shift.
Dustin Boyd C
Benched for reasons known only to the coach, Boyd is not having the opportunity to do much. His play has not been that bad and I think he deserves more of a chance to establish himself here in Montreal.
Tom Pyatt C
Perhaps due to the penalty killers imported in the offseason, Pyatt has not shone like he did last year, when he was a revelation and pleasant surprise. Pyatt needs to resume playing like he once did and avoid falling into obscurity in the lineup.
Benoit Pouliot C
Pouliot tried to start off the season with confidence, and does not appear to have given up despite being demoted and moved around for not producing as expected. He has 6 points and has just taken two minor penalties in 12 games, which are encouraging stats. Hopefully when Gionta and Gomez start scoring, Pouliot will see more results as well.
Scott Gomez C-
Salary aside, he is the Habs’ second-line centre. As such, Gomez needs to dust off his playmaking abilities, perhaps sharpen them a bit, and get down to work, because whatever he’s doing right now is unacceptable. One goal and three assists is a shocking stat for Gomez and he’s probably not too happy about it either. The most troublesome aspects of his game are his inability to help on the PP and his low-quality shots. He is also losing battles in the offensive zone. I for one do not appreciate the way Gomez carries the puck into the offensive zone all alone and promptly turns it over to a gaggle of defencemen, such plays are thoroughly unnecessary and hardly ever work nowadays.