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The first quarter of the season has come and gone and the Habs find
themselves atop the Eastern Conference.  A large part of their success
should be attributed to the goaltending as both goalies have had strong starts
to their years.  On the blueline, there has been some good mixed in with
some bad but overall the unit has been decent.  Here are our first quarter
grades for for the goalies and defencemen.

Notes: Players must have played in at least 25% of Montreal’s games (5 out
of 21) to receive a grade.  Stats are as of games played through November


Dustin Tokarski: A-: What more can you really ask for out of a backup
goalie, especially a rookie one?  His only bad game of the quarter was in
relief against Tampa Bay (the recent loss to NYR was past the cutoff) and he
allowed just five goals in his four starts.  It’s hard to do much more than

Stats: 5 GP, 3-1-0 record, 1.79 GAA, .937 SV%, 0 SO

Carey Price: B: The beginning of the year was a rough one for the
Habs’ franchise goalie as he allowed three or more goals in the first four games
of the season.  Since then, he has been the lights-out goalie that everyone
expects him to be, allowing three or more in just four of his other 13 contests. 
His goaltending has allowed the Habs to win several times where they were out
shot, out chanced, and outplayed.

Stats: 17 GP, 12-4-1 record, 2.49 GAA, .917 SV%, 1 SO


Sergei Gonchar: A-: Given his struggles in Dallas, no one really
thought Gonchar was going to bring much to the table; his primary importance was
clearing Travis Moen’s salary off the books next year.  It turns out that
there’s still something in the tank after all.  He has found a home on the
second pairing and powerplay and gives the Habs some much needed secondary
offence from the point.

Stats: 5 GP, 0 goals, 2 assists, 2 points, +3 rating, 4 PIMS, 9 hits, 6 blocks,
9 shots

Andrei Markov: B: Offensively, he’s underachieving somewhat but Markov
has been a stabilizing presence on a blueline that has had its ups and downs in
the early going this season.  If the powerplay could ever get going, his
offensive numbers should improve.  One concern I have is that his ice time
has been quite high most nights; given his age, I fear he may wear down as the
year goes on if it continues.

Stats: 21 GP, 1 goal, 8 assists, 9 points, +3 rating, 4 PIMS, 20 hits,
39 blocks, 37 shots

P.K. Subban: B: Expectations were understandably over the top given
his new deal and thus far, he hasn’t lived up to them.  That said, Subban
has still been a legitimate top defenceman while refining his game towards
taking fewer risks.  As he gets more accustomed to his newer playing style,
his confidence will grow and I expect him to improve as the year goes on.

Stats: 21 GP, 5 goals, 8 assists, 13 points, +1 rating, 24 PIMS, 26
hits, 43 blocks, 37 shots

Alexei Emelin: B-: Playing on the top pairing seemed to be too much
for Emelin to handle which had many down on him early.  In a second pairing
role, he has been much more stable despite having a few different partners along
the way.  With Subban toning down the aggressiveness, Emelin is now the one
defenceman who can really impact the game with his physical play and that’s
something he’ll need to maintain.  Taking a few more shots wouldn’t hurt

Stats: 19 GP, 0 goals, 6 assists, 6 points, +10 rating, 14 PIMS, 55
hits, 34 blocks, 9 shots

Tom Gilbert: B-: I get the sense many fans were expecting way too much
from Gilbert.  He’s more or less a minute munching defenceman; he won’t
produce much but he won’t hurt you defensively either.  In the first
quarter, he was on the ice for just 11 goals against, the lowest total of any
regular blueliner on the Canadiens.  As much as some want to focus on the
lack of offence, which is disappointing, the fact that the puck isn’t going in
the Habs’ net often when he plays is a nice benefit.

Stats: 21 GP, 1 goal, 2 assists, 3 points, +7 rating, 16 PIMS, 9 hits,
44 blocks, 18 shots

Mike Weaver: C+: Expecting Weaver to play as well as he did down the
stretch last season would be asking too much of him.  He’s an old,
undersized #6 defenceman who can hit and block shots.  So far this year,
that’s pretty much all he has been, a stay-at-home guy getting limited minutes
who sprawls for the block a lot.  That’s fine too, though him sitting every
once in a while wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing either.

Stats: 19 GP, 0 goals, 4 assists, 4 points, +2 rating, 6 PIMS, 24 hits,
43 blocks, 6 shots

Nathan Beaulieu: C: It has been a mixed bag when it comes to Beaulieu
this year and really, that’s to be expected.  There are times where he
looks like a surefire NHL’er that can play a key role soon and others where he
looks like a deer in the headlights.  This pending stint in Hamilton
(presuming it’s not just another two-game stint) will be interesting – does he
put in the effort or will he go through the motions as he did last year when he
was demoted at the Olympic break?  The answer to that may determine when he
gets his next chance with Montreal.

Stats: 14 GP, 0 goals, 2 assists, 2 points, -3 rating, 15 PIMS, 8 hits, 20 blocks,
15 shots

Jarred Tinordi: C-: When he’s confident, Tinordi is a tough player to
play against.  When he’s not confident and over-thinking things, he’s a
tough player to have on the ice as no one knows what will happen.  This is
why he’s back in Hamilton.  When he gets his next chance, he needs to be
much more assertive with the body and make a better first pass to clear the

Stats: 9 GP, 0 goals, 2 assists, 2 points, -5 rating, 7 PIMS, 11 hits,
13 blocks, 4 shots