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The Canadiens as a team are currently exceeding expectations as they are the top team in the NHL
through the first quarter of the season. However, several ugly shutout losses in
these first few weeks (along with a 6-2 blowout versus Calgary) have many questioning whether or not Les Canadiens
are a “true contender”. In terms of their forwards, how many individually are
exceeding their expectations?  Here are our first quarter grades.

Players must have played in at least five games to receive a grade.

Max Pacioretty: A: Max is well ahead of last year’s scoring pace which saw him struggle early before finishing strong, notching 39 goals. He is the Habs’ leading scorer and is on pace for 40 goals and 72
points. In addition to scoring, Pacioretty plays a strong defensive game and is an excellent penalty killer who is always a threat to score shorthanded. The new leadership role is apparently suiting Max very well as he leads by example on the ice.

1st Quarter Stats: 21 GP, 10 goals, 8 assists, 18 points, +13 rating, 16 PIMS, 75 shots

Tomas Plekanec: A-: Tomas has rediscovered his scoring touch after being relieved of some of his defensive responsibilities by
free agent signing Manny Malhotra. He is still playing excellent defence, has improved in the faceoff circle, and is on pace for his highest scoring season since he garnered 70 points in 2009-10.

1st Quarter Stats: 21 GP, 7 goals, 8 assists, 15 points, +3 rating, 2 PIMS, 60 shots

Alex Galchenyuk: B+: Galchenyuk is really starting to show the skills that saw him drafted 3rd overall
only two years ago. He just seems to get better every game and has started to add a real physical edge to his game
early on as well. At just 20 years old, he appears to be on the brink of stardom.

1st Quarter Stats: 21 GP, 5 goals, 8 assists, 13 points, +1 rating, 10 PIMS, 49 shots

Manny Malhotra: B+: I considered giving Malhotra a higher grade given his domination in the faceoff circle and his beneficial effect on the faceoff efficiency of Montreal’s other centres. While his zero point total led to the B+ ranking,
he is excelling at what he was brought in to do: provide veteran leadership, win faceoffs and play tight
defence. He is one of Marc Bergevin’s most understated and effective free agent acquisitions.

1st Quarter Stats: 21 GP, 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 points, -2 rating, 2 PIMS, 19 shots

Dale Weise: B+: How could a 4th line player garner such a high grade with limited ice time and points? When that 4th liner drives to the net hard enough to draw a penalty shot call and then scores. When he picks off a pass in front of the oppositions’ net and calmly pots a crucial goal. When he hits, fights, and plays sandpaper
defence. When…well, you get the idea. Weise has made outstanding contributions in numerous games with limited ice time.

1st Quarter Stats: 18 GP, 4 goals, 5 assists, 9 points, + 4 rating, 11 PIMS, 23 shots

Brendan Gallagher: B: Gallagher has not produced the level of
offence that he or the team would like, but how can you fault this little ball of hate who takes more abuse from opposing players, and from the referees, than any other Hab? Gallagher’s compete level is off the charts and he never gives up on a play. This doggedness often results in Montreal retaining possession in the offensive zone and is occasionally rewarded by the sort of goal he scored while on his knees behind the net against Detroit.

1st Quarter Stats: 21 GP, 5 goals, 5 assists, 10 points, +2 rating, 10 PIMS, 63 shots

Brandon Prust: B: Prust kills penalties, gets the puck for his linemates, fights, and grinds and grinds. He has been invaluable in his role, but a little more
offence would be welcome.

1st Quarter Stats: 21 GP, 1 goal, 4 assists, 5 points, -1 rating, 30 PIMS, 15 shots

David Desharnais: B-: This in many ways was the most difficult grade. Desharnais’ point totals are less than mediocre for the de facto first-line centre, but he is essential to driving Pacioretty’s production (as illustrated by his
+12 rating and the fact that his 11 points were earned with only 20 SOG) while his puck possession and defensive game are much improved. Nevertheless, to maintain Montreal’s hot start, Desharnais
must score more; shooting more instead of always looking to pass first would be a good place to start.

1st Quarter Stats: 21 GP, 2 goals, 9 assists, 11 points, +12 rating, 12 PIMS, 20 shots

P-A Parenteau: B-: On pace for 40 points, Parenteau has struggled to score at times despite ample top-line minutes. While the Briere trade is still looking good for Montreal, more is needed from this winger whose grade would have been lower if not for his shootout prowess
where he has three game winners.

1st Quarter Stats: 21 GP, 5 goals, 5 assists, 10 points, +2 rating, 10 PIMS, 41 shots

Jiri Sekac: C+: Like Eller, Sekac has been highly effective since the departure of Rene Bourque. He uses his size well, hits hard, plays sound
defence, and cuts to the net with the puck like no one else on the team. If he continues to improve, and starts burying a few more of his chances, his next quarter grade will be significantly higher.

1st Quarter Stats: 14 GP, 3 goals, 3 assists, 6 points, even rating, 4 PIMS, 16 shots

Lars Eller: C: Eller would benefit from two ratings as he seemed a different player in the WB (with Bourque) and AB (after Bourque) eras. In all seriousness, Lars has greatly improved his play since Sekac has joined his line. Regardless of linemates, Eller shows maddening flashes of brilliance followed by mediocre performances, so he needs to achieve a level of consistent production if he is ever to reach his apparent potential of more than a 3rd liner.

1st Quarter Stats: 21 GP, 6 goals, 3 assists, 9 points, -5 rating, 14 PIMS, 43 shots

Travis Moen: C: The highly respected Moen dressed for only 10 games, and appeared to have lost a step. While many initially questioned the acquisition of Sergei Gonchar, Montreal’s jettisoning of Moen’s inflated cap hit for next season was universally applauded, particularly as he had been made redundant by Weise.

1st Quarter Stats: 10 GP, 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 points, even rating, 4 PIMS, 9 shots

Rene Bourque: F: Bourque tantalized Habs fans with a fantastic display of size, strength, physicality and scoring touch during last season’s playoffs. Unfortunately, he could not recapture the magic this season and was scratched, waived and finally traded after failing to score in 13 games. Regardless of the role that Bryan Allen plays with Montreal, most fans are glad to see the last of Bourque and his maddening inability to use his physical gifts on a consistent basis.

1st Quarter Stats: 13 GP, 0 goals, 2 assists, 2 points, -9 rating, 6 PIMS, 9 shots

Drayson Bowman: N/A: Bowman played limited minutes in just 3 games.

Michael Bournival: N/A: Unfortunately for him,
Bournival played in only 2 games before injuring his shoulder.