HabsWorld.net -- 

The votes have been counted, and the Habsworld readers have made their
opinions known.  With a 4-2-0 record in the month of January, there were plenty
of candidates for 3 Star consideration.  Rene Bourque, Raphael Diaz, Alexei Emelin, Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher, Josh Gorges, Andrei Markov, Tomas
Plekanec, Carey Price and Brendan Prust all received votes, but one ultimately distanced himself from the pack.

#1 – Andrei Markov (6GP – 4 Goals – 4 Assists – 8 Points – Minus 1

One of the biggest question marks coming into this season, the oft-injured
Markov silenced his critics with an impressive performance in January. 
Quarterbacking the powerplay with Raphael Diaz at his side, Markov brought
stability to a unit that struggled mightily without him the last two years.  In
fact, all 8 points from Markov came with the man advantage.  His
calm presence on the back-end has contributed to a consistent breakout, and
Alexei Emelin has flourished beside him at even-strength.  His return to
form has provided Montreal a true #1 defenceman, which has permitted the other blue liners
to adopt less strenuous roles, benefitting Montreal. 
Although Markov’s play may not have shocked those who believed in him during the
darker days, but did anyone really believe that he would be this good?

92% of 1st Star votes, 5% of 2nd Star votes, 1% of 3rd Star votes.

#2 – Carey Price (4-1-0, 1.98 GAA, .924 SV%)

A quick glance at the peripheral stats might have you temporarily believing
that you’re looking at Henrik Lundqvist’s numbers; the truth is that Carey
Price was phenomenal in January.  His sole loss occurred at the home
opener, and certainly he couldn’t be blamed for the two powerplay goals against. 
In fact, Price would remain unbeaten at even-strength until the 3rd period of
his third game, signifying how solid he was in net.  As usual, Price’s
performance goes beyond the numbers, and is of much greater significance to the
team.  His puck-handling skills, though not perfect, are improved this
season, and he is among the best in the league in the role of 3rd defenceman. 
Price’s knack to make key stops at crucial moments remains intact, and there is
no doubt that he is a huge part of Montreal’s successes thus far.

7% of 1st Star votes, 42% of 2nd Star votes, 13% of 3rd Star votes.

#3 – Alex Galchenyuk (6GP – 1 Goals – 4 Assists – 5 Points – Plus 3

To be perfectly honest, I thought that it would be a little longer
before we started seeing Galchenyuk make this list.  But the rookie has
made an impressive case for himself, giving Michel Therrien no choice but to
keep him with the big club, and garnering an excess of votes both at Habsworld
and at the Bell Centre.  Meshing quickly with fellow rookie, Brendan
Gallagher, Galchenyuk brought his blossoming skills to the third line and
posed a new threat to the opposition’s weaker pairings.  Although he has yet to
dominate at the NHL level, "Chucky" has shown flashes of what he will eventually
bring on a nightly basis, and his play regularly leaves Canadiens’ fans wanting
more.  Moreover, it is not just his offensive game that has impressed;
Galchenyuk continues to improve in the face-off dot, and he has earned his coach’s
trust to play important minutes late in games.

1% of 1st Star votes, 13% of 2nd Star votes, 21% of 3rd Star votes.

HM – Raphael Diaz (6GP – 0 Goals – 8 Assists – 8 Points – Plus 1

Diaz technically tied with Alex Galchenyuk in the voting, but lost out in the
tie-breaker.  Ultimately, it is the Canadiens that have been the winners
with the Swiss blue liner’s strong play in January.  Diaz’s performance
minimized the impact of P.K. Subban’s contract holdout and absence, as he led the team in
assists and points.  Paired with Andrei Markov on the powerplay, Diaz’s
creativity and accurate shot have contributed to the early successes with the man
advantage.  Diaz has also been effective at even-strength situations, as he
and Josh Gorges have become an effective, if not flashy pair.  It appears
that Diaz has benefitted from his time overseas, and has become a valuable
contributor to Montreal’s depth on defence, pushing lesser defencemen to the
press box.

0% of 1st Star votes, 15% of 2nd Star votes, 20% of 3rd Star votes.

Thanks to all that voted, and we’ll see you next month!