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January was an up-and-down month for the Habs, featuring some strong efforts and some of their worst of the year.  But a handful of players stood out amongst the group, earning votes from our readers for our monthly three stars.

1st Star: Sean Monahan

Monahan may very well have saved his best for last as he led the Habs in scoring last month before being traded to Winnipeg soon after.  As had been the case in the first half of the season, a good chunk of his production came with the man advantage, a special teams unit that actually had a half-decent performance in January.  Monahan helped give the Canadiens a second forward line that was at least capable of some offensive zone time and while the first-round pick was a strong return for his services, Montreal will feel the impact of his absence down the stretch.

Stats: 13 GP, 4 goals, 10 assists, 14 points, -4 rating, 0 PIMS, 33 shots, 48.4% faceoffs, 18:53 ATOI

2nd Star: Cole Caufield

It would be fair to say that Caufield’s season hasn’t quite gone as well as everyone would have hoped.  However, the streaky scorer got on a hot streak for most of the month, picking up points in each of his last nine games before the All-Star break.  Head coach Martin St. Louis has also praised Caufield’s improvement in his defensive game which bears noting here as well.  Some consistent production offensively and improved play in his own end?  The Habs will happily take that for the season’s final three months and beyond.

Stats: 13 GP, 7 goals, 6 assists, 13 points, -4 rating, 0 PIMS, 48 shots, 12 hits, 19:18 ATOI

3rd Star: Nick Suzuki

The captain wasn’t quite as productive as his linemate last month but he also took on a bigger share of the defensive workload with Montreal trying to limit Monahan’s shorthanded minutes.  Even so, he still finished second on the team in assists.  His goal production was lower than expected, however, in part because he wasn’t shooting anywhere near as much as he was earlier on in the year; his shot-on-goal rate was down nearly a full shot per game compared to the first half of the campaign.  Suzuki is a pass-first player, no doubt, but every now and then, he needs a reminder to start shooting more.  That’s basically the only blip he had last month.

Stats: 13 GP, 2 goals, 8 assists, 10 points, -7 rating, 8 PIMS, 22 shots, 48.9% faceoffs, 21:33 ATOI

Honourable Mention: Juraj Slafkovsky

Slafkovsky spent most of the month on the top line (predominantly with Caufield and Suzuki), a promotion he earned after some strong play towards the back half of December.  He certainly didn’t look out of place on that line, giving the trio some size and board battle success while being creative enough offensively to be involved on a regular basis (compared to someone like Josh Anderson).  Like Suzuki, the sophomore winger was a bit too pass-happy to defer to his linemates but that’s part of the growing process.  After a rough start to the year, Slafkovsky’s stock is on the rise.

Stats: 13 GP, 3 goals, 4 assists, 7 points, -10 rating, 0 PIMS, 21 shots, 18 hits, 18:28 ATOI