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Once again, the Habs have proven the mainstream media—and many fans—wrong. Despite their hot start, the popular consensus was that the Canadiens were too weak, and had too little depth, at the centre to maintain their place at the top of the league standings.

Even when the team got hit with a plethora of injuries, they were able to hold on to the top of the division and picked up 20 of 32 points without Alex Galchenyuk before the midway mark of the season.  Several players stepped up and took on bigger roles or did a better job filling the role they were supposed to, which is reflected in our second quarter grades.

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

Max Pacioretty A+: Fans and media are often extremely critical of Pacioretty and he was harshly criticized in the first quarter of the season for his lack of production. It turned out that Max was playing with a broken bone in his foot and as he healed, his production started rising. When the injuries struck he upped his game and became the franchise’s all-time leader in overtime winning goals with consecutive OT game winners against the Predators and Stars respectively and he was among the league leaders in goals since the beginning of December. He has continued his excellent defensive play and as always is a threat to score a on the penalty kill. The team could not have asked for a better response from their Captain both in leadership and production when they needed everyone to step up with so many regulars absent.

2nd Quarter Stats: 20 GP, 14 goals, 6 assists, 20 points, +1 rating, 12 PIMS, 72 shots, 19.4 sh%

Season Stats:  41 GP, 19 goals, 15 assists, 34 points, +7 rating, 26 PIMS, 128 shots, 14.8 sh%

Alexander Radulov A+:   Like Pacioretty, Radulov led by example during the second quarter. Despite a couple of games where he didn’t look like himself, Radulov continues to be a force on the Canadiens. His teammates marvel at his enthusiastic approach to practice and his never ending effort during games. He scores timely, sometimes beautiful, goals and is so hard to separate from the puck that it is notable when he loses a puck battle or is unable to cycle out of the corner and put a perfect pass on a teammates stick. Radulov is already beloved to Canadiens fans and the burning question is: “When will Montreal re-sign him?”

2nd Quarter Stats: 20 GP, 6 goals, 8 assists, 14 points, +1 rating, 16 PIMS, 58 shots, 10.3 sh%

Season Stats:  39 GP, 10 goals, 21 assists, 31  points, +7 rating, 34 PIMS, 89 shots, 11.2 Sh%

Phillip Danault A+:  Danault was a pleasant surprise in the first quarter. Since his elevation to the first line centre position he has been a revelation and is making Marc Bergevin look like a genius. Stellar defence, high hockey IQ and more and more scoring as his ice time increased, Danault has given Michel Therrien and Bergevin options that not one (with the possible exception of Bergevin) anticipated. Can Danault maintain this production? Is this a sign of his new top six status or an aberration? Will his emergence allow the Canadiens to move on from Plekanec? These and other questions will be answered in the second half of the season, coming soon to an arena near you.

2nd Quarter Stats: 20 GP, 2 goals, 8 assists, 10 points, -3 rating, 6 PIMS, 38 shots, 5.3 sh%

Season Stats: 41 GP, 7 goals, 12 assists, 19 points, -2 rating, 10 PIMS, 68 shots, 10.3 sh%

Paul Byron A:  Byron continues to impress. He maintains the blazing speed and excellent penalty killing, and his production, initially a surprise, has not wavered. His shooting percentage is still over 20% and he shows a knack for getting to the right place at the right time.

2nd Quarter Stats: 19 GP, 5 goals, 7 assists, 12 points, +4 rating, 8 PIMS, 25 shots, 20.0 sh%

Season Stats:  40 GP, 12 goals, 12 assists, 24 points, + 9 rating, 16 PIMS, 52 shots, 23.1 sh%

Artturi Lehkonen B+:  Lehkonen has stepped up while being given more responsibility in the absence of several veteran forwards. He has maintained his excellent defensive game and has earned Therrien’s trust which is not easy for a rookie to do. He has started to bury more of his chances and has shown why he was such a scoring threat last season in the Swedish Elite League. Will he be the first Canadiens’ rookie since Gallagher to score 20 goals?

2nd Quarter Stats: 20 GP, 6 goals, 2 assists, 8 points, +4 rating, 0 PIMS, 40 shots, 15.0 sh%

Season Stats: 32 GP, 8 goals, 3 assists, 11 points,  +4 rating, 6  PIMS, 67 shots, 11.9 sh%

Torrey Mitchell B:  Mitchell has cooled off from an amazing 42% shooting to a more sustainable 18% in this quarter but has not looked out of place as he was moved all around the lineup to compensate for their depleted forward core. Torrey’s flexibility is perhaps his most valuable characteristic, but his stellar defence and willingness to stand up for his teammates makes him an important contributor for this squad.

2nd Quarter Stats: 20 GP, 2 goals, 4 assists, 6 points, +1 rating, 19 PIMS, 25 shots, 8.0 sh%

Season Stats:  41 GP,  7 goals, 6 assists, 13 points,  + 7 rating, 27 PIMS, 37 shots, 18 sh%

Brian Flynn C+:  Flynn is another extremely versatile player who is dogged on the puck like Mitchell. However, except for the occasional shootout goal he doesn’t have Mitchell’s flashes of offensive production. Like almost all of the other forwards he stepped up his game in the absence of many regulars. It’s just too bad he didn’t have a little more finish.

2nd Quarter Stats: 18 GP, 4 goals, 1 assist, 5 points, +3 rating, 2 PIMS, 19 shots, 21.1 sh%

Season Stats: 30 GP, 4 goals, 3 assists, 7 points,  +4 rating, 4 PIMS, 30 shots, 13.3 sh %

Michael McCarron C+:  McCarron was been highly effective in limited ice time. He used his body effectively (he threw 35 hits in only 12 games) played good defence, scored a goal and even spent some time screening the goalie on the power play. Although many fans and media are extremely high on McCarron, due to his size, he still needs to improve his speed and quickness if he is going to play a top six—or even top nine—role in the NHL. I’m looking forward to seeing McCarron in Montreal on a full-time basis, perhaps even as soon as next season.

2nd Quarter, Season Stats: 12 GP, 1 goals, 3 assists, 4 points, +3 rating, 16 PIMS, 16 shots, 6.7 sh%

Brendan Gallagher C:  Gallagher was showing some signs of breaking his almost season-long slump, and his usual grinding, agitating game was always on display as he never let his offensive frustration cause his effort and intensity to wane. His abysmal first quarter shooting percentage of 7.1% fell even further to 5.6% despite a slight increase in production before his injury due to a Shea Weber slap shot. His best hope for the season is that he returns well-rested and productive in time for the playoffs.

2nd Quarter Stats: 18 GP, 2 goals, 5 assists, 7 points, -2 rating, 11 PIMS, 56 shots, 3.6 sh%

Season Stats:  39 GP, 6 goals, 12 assists, 18 points,  +3  rating, 31 PIMS, 112 shots, 5.6 sh%

Andrew Shaw C: Shaw played only eight games in the second quarter of the seasons and was starting to pick up his offensive production while still being the little ball of hate that Bergevin acquired to make the Habs much harder to play against. Hopefully, he will build towards being the playoff beast his reputation promises in the second half.

2nd Quarter Stats: 8 GP, 2 goals, 5 assists, 7 points, +4 rating, 17 PIMS, 18 shots, 11.1 sh%

Season Stats: 29 GP, 6 goals, 9 assists, 15 points, +12 rating, 58 PIMS, 58 shots, 10.3 sh%

Tomas Plekanec C: Despite his continuing scoring woes, Tomas’ shooting percentage more than doubled this quarter. That it remains among the lowest on the team at 5.3% explains why many believe he has lost what little offensive touch he had left. To make matters worse, both special teams have struggled mightily at times and he is one of their top penalty killers. While he still has the ability to stifle the other team’s top line, that is not enough for a six million/year player. As I said last quarter, if the Canadiens do not go far in the playoffs it wouldn’t be a surprise to see an under-productive, over-priced Plekanec exposed to Vegas in the expansion draft. Danault’s emergence as a top six forward only enhances this possibility.

2nd Quarter Stats: 20 GP, 3 goals, 9 assists, 12 points, +8 rating, 6 PIMS, 33 shots, 9.1 sh%

Season Stats:  41 GP, 4 goals, 14  assists, 18 points, +8  rating, 12 PIMS, 76 shots, 5.3 sh %

Daniel Carr C:  Carr has been an effective fourth line option and has not hurt the team in limited ice tine. Unfortunately, he has not found his offensive game—if indeed he has, or will ever have one—at the NHL level. After his first quarter results I noted that if Carr continued the way he was going his place in the NHL would be solidified. Unfortunately, with no goals this quarter, one in total, and only 18 hits in 26 games he is not doing himself any favours.

2nd Quarter Stats: 17 GP, 0 goals, 5 assists, 5 points, +3 rating, 2 PIMS, 23 shots, 0.0 sh%

Season Stats:  26 GP, 1 goals, 6 assists, 7 points,  +5 rating, 6  PIMS, 37 shots, 2.7 sh%

Chris Terry C-: Terry remained with the Canadiens due to the rash of injuries and was a reasonable fill-in on the 4th line. He did manage to chip in a couple of goals which was welcome with so many starters out. An excellent AHL’er who can fill in for injuries seems to be Terry’s ceiling which makes him a capable call-up if more injuries strike in the second half.

2nd Quarter Stats: 8 GP, 2 goals, 1 assist, 3 points, +3 rating, 2 PIMS, 8 shots, 25.0 sh%

Season Stats: 13 GP, 2 goals, 2 assists, 4 point, +2 rating, 2 PIMS, 14 shots, 14.3 sh %

Sven Andrighetto C-:  Sven has been back and forth from St. John’s so many times it is a wonder that the can remember what city he is in. Although Andrighetto has not hurt the team in limited ice time, with no goals and two assists he has not helped much either. Unfortunately, if he doesn’t show more soon he will be out of Montreal permanently. His production in the first half would probably not even inspire a waiver claim although that could change if he keeps up his recent performance.

2nd Quarter Stats: 6 GP, 0 goals, 2 assists, 2 points, +2 rating, 0 PIMS, 5 shots, 0.0 sh%

Season Stats:  10 GP, 0 goals, 2 assists, 2 points,  +2  rating, 0  PIMS, 12 shots, 0 sh%

N/A: Alex Galchenyuk; David Desharnais; Charles Hudon, Nikita Scherbak, Bobby Farnham