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With the midpoint of the season having recently passed, we wrap up our second quarter report cards with a look at Montreal’s forwards.

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

Nick Suzuki: Player Rating: 8.00

Suzuki is demonstrating the utmost in consistency, contributing in every game consistently and leading the team in many aspects of the game (such as goals, points, and time on ice for forwards). He remains on pace to set career highs in points, his Corsi rating remains above 50%, and he has improved his two-way play in the second quarter as he was near even in terms of plus/minus. Overall, a good second quarter to the season for the captain.

Stats: 20 GP, 6 goals, 11 assists, 17 points, -3 rating, 6 PIMS, 47 shots, 21:35 ATOI

Cole Caufield: Player Rating: 7.00

The hoped-for rebound in goal-scoring for Caufield didn’t come. Cole was on pace for just 24 goals at the midway mark. On a team that is near the bottom of the NHL in scoring, the Habs need their $7.8M sniper to produce at a better clip, and avoid extended droughts, like the one-goal-in-12-game drought between November 30th and December 28th. On the plus side, Caufield continued his improved defensive zone play so he’s not a defensive liability. His shooting percentage was at just 7.8% after Game 41, a far cry from 12.3% for his career, so there’s a reasonable chance scoring will improve if the numbers even out over the rest of the season. In recent games, chemistry looks like it is building between Caufield and Slafkovsky, so if that trend continues, fans will be happy!

Stats: 20 GP, 5 goals, 6 assists, 11 points, -4 rating, 6 PIMS, 66 shots, 19:35 ATOI

Sean Monahan: Player Rating: 8.00

Monahan was on pace for 48 points over the full season at the midway point and is a model of consistency – never being held pointless for more than two games in a row. He continues to play a leading role regardless of who is on his wing while playing on the power play and getting key minutes late in games. At times, he does look out of gas, so coaching will have to monitor his playing time to ensure he remains fresh and doesn’t get injured. Monahan has demonstrated his value to the league and will get the Habs a nice return at the trade deadline.

Stats: 20 GP, 5 goals, 6 assists, 11 points, -1 rating, 2 PIMS, 37 shots, 18:31 ATOI

Juraj Slafkovsky: Player Rating: 7.00

If you haven’t watched the games, with only nine points, a reader might think it was another poor quarter for Slafkovsky. This couldn’t be further from reality as Slafkovsky played by far the best hockey fans have seen from him. He was regularly driving play, causing turnovers, and creating space for his linemates. He doesn’t always get points for his plays, but he’s definitely becoming an impact player. His ice time was up to over 18 minutes a game (from 12:54 in Q1) with top power play time and has recently been playing on the top line with Suzuki and Caufield. This is a huge step forward for the big Slovak and a welcome sight.

Stats: 20 GP, 2 goals, 7 assists, 9 points, -4 rating, 11 PIMS, 24 shots, 18:06 ATOI

Jake Evans: Player Rating: 7.00

Despite low offensive output, Evans again was a positive plus/minus player for the team and remains an anomaly on the team with the fewest wins in regulation in the NHL. He was playing wing with Monahan and either Gallagher or Anderson and didn’t look out of place. As injuries hit, he switched back to centre and didn’t miss a beat. His versatility, speed, and strong defensive awareness, along with a low cap hit, make him a valuable contributor for the Habs.

Stats: 20 GP, 1 goal, 6 assists, 7 points, +1 rating, 0 PIMS, 21 shots, 17:27 ATOI

Joel Armia: Player Rating: 7.00

Armia is another anomaly as an even player (plus/minus) for the Habs. On pace for 18 goals (over a full season) Armia is having a relatively good year on that front. More effort and consistency would be welcome, but that’s been a recurring request throughout his career.

Stats: 19 GP, 5 goals, 0 assists, 5 points, -1 rating, 12 PIMS, 34 shots, 14:19 ATOI

Josh Anderson: Player Rating: 6.50

Anderson had a strong second quarter, finally breaking out of the worst slump in his career. It took an empty-net goal to do it, but his energy and play picked up noticeably and more normal goals followed shortly thereafter. He remains a streaky scorer as goals tend to come in bunches with multiple games in between, but any offence will be welcome on this offensively starved Habs roster.

Stats: 20 GP, 7 goals, 3 assists, 10 points -5 rating, 20 PIMS, 51 shots, 16:28 ATOI

Michael Pezzetta: Player Rating: 6.00

With limited minutes, Pezzetta has done exceeding well in his role and was 10th overall in the NHL for total hits after Game 41. He played with constant energy and enthusiasm and was a positive plus/minus player.

Stats: 13 GP, 0 goals, 5 assists, 5 points, +3 rating, 14 PIMS, 12 shots, 7:59 ATOI

Mitchell Stephens: Player Rating: 5.00

Due to all the injuries, Stephens was getting in a lot of games. At times, his play was sloppy with passes well beyond the reach of linemates and he missed some of the Grade-A chances he got but overall, he did relatively well for an AHL player being thrust into an NHL lineup. He works hard every shift, is defensively aware, and did exceptionally well in the faceoff circle (55%).

Stats: 18 GP, 2 goals, 1 assist, 3 points, +2 rating, 4 PIMS, 12 shots, 8:59 ATOI

Jesse Ylonen: Player Rating: 4.00

Ylonen played over nine minutes a game even strength but you wouldn’t know it because he’s invisible. While he’s not a defensive liability, he’s also not a danger in the offensive zone either. He needs to be more aggressive in his play and use his speed and offensive instincts that got him drafted 35th overall in 2018. While technically not a rookie, he’s only got 88 games of NHL experience over the last three seasons, so in reality, this is his first real full campaign in the NHL. Hopefully, as he develops, we’ll see Ylonen put his skill set to better use.

Stats: 20 GP, 0 goals, 3 assists, 3 points, 0 rating, 2 PIMS, 17 shots, 10:30 ATOI

Brendan Gallagher:  Player Rating: 4.00

Gallagher went on a 24-game goalless drought between November 12th and January 4th. Regardless of the effort and drive that Gallagher brings, for someone at a $6.5M cap hit, this can’t happen. For the Canadiens to be successful, they need top cap hits (like Gallagher, Anderson, Caufield) to be regular contributors offensively. The drought occurred when Gallagher was largely playing with Christian Dvorak. There simply isn’t chemistry between these two and they shouldn’t have been playing together. He started off the year much stronger with Monahan, but injuries required changes to the lineup. Gallagher has three more years after this under a contract that will be very difficult to trade. Management needs to get better linemates for Gallagher to make better use of his cap hit.

Stats: 20 GP, 2 goals, 3 assists, 5 points, -7 rating, 8 PIMS, 44 shots, 14:42 ATOI

Christian Dvorak: Player Rating: 2.00

At a $4.45 M cap hit, Dvorak will only record seven points this season due to injuries at the start and now ending his season. Unfortunately, even if he wasn’t injured, Dvorak was simply not playing up to his cap hit struggling throughout the season. It’ll be exceedingly difficult to trade him this summer, so expect Dvorak to be back in Montreal for the last year of his contract.

Stats: 14 GP, 2 goals, 2 assists, 4 points, -4 rating, 4 PIMS, 17 shots, 15:57 ATOI

Second Quarter Grades – Goalies and Defencemen