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Games 1-10: Habs Report Card

by Nick Lariviere


October 29, 2015 | Sports

Team photo of Montreal Canadiens. All Habs Hockey Magazine.

After the first 10 games, the Canadiens are 9-1-0, which is good for the top spot in the league. The Canadiens also have a +19 goal differential, which is +7 better than the next best team: the Florida Panthers. All is going well in Habs land, even with the loss on Tuesday night; it’s not time to panic yet. They are also the current favorites to win the Stanley Cup with 7-1 odds. Here is your Habs report card for the first 10 games.


Coach


Michel Therrien : 9.1/10

Therrien has done a great job so far this season, having kept the same line up since the first period in the first game of the season. Therrien is known for shuffling his lines on regular basis throughout a season, but he has yet to do so besides benching Alex Semin on occasion for his often “lazy” play. In doing this, he deserves credit by allowing all 4 lines and 3 defensive pairings to gel from the get go. Of course the Habs are lucky that no key piece has yet to get injured.  But Therrien does deserve some credit for this 9-1 start. One thing that could be improved is giving Galchenyuk more ice time to improve at the centre position. Desharnais should not be the forward with most ice time either.


Players:


Carey Price: 9.5/10

When it seemed that Price had reached the top of his game last season, it only got better through the first 10 games this season.  Besides allowing 5 goals on 28 shots in Tuesday’s 5-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks, Price has been next to perfect. Before Tuesday’s game he had allowed 9 goals in 7 games for a 1.28 goals against average.  He also had a .966 save percentage including 2 shutouts. With the loss on Tuesday his numbers dropped to a 1.75 goals against average and a .945 save percentage. Which is likely the numbers he will put up if he continues to play at the rate he has played so far this season.  Price has been this team’s MVP and should remain so all season.


Max Pacioretty 9.3/10

Max Pacioretty has stepped up as captain so far this season. Scoring 7 goals in 10 games so far this season has him tied for second in goals. Pacioretty has been clutch alongside line-mates Tomas Plekanec and Brendan Gallagher. The line has 15 of the team’s 34 goals so far this season.  Pacioretty is not only an offensive force, but is great defensively as well. He is the only player on the team to not be on the ice for an opposing team’s goal. He also leads the league with a plus/minus of +12. Pacioretty seems to have taken on the role of captain very seriously being a leader in the room and on ice. He should continue to be a force all season.


Andrei Markov 9.2/10

At 36 years old, Markov is showing signs that he isn’t ready to slow down despite his tough playoffs last season.  He has started the season with an energy boost and is tied for 1st in points by a defenseman with defensive partner PK Subban. This may just be the best start to a season in Markov’s career, putting up a goal and 9 assists in 10 games.  He has a +9 plus-minus rating good for tied for third in the league. He will eventually slow down but for now he is way up there in terms of NHL defenseman. He will likely take lesser minutes as the season goes on so he can compete well come playoff time.


PK Subban 9.2/10

PK Subban has been PK Subban so far and is looking great out there. He has also made less mistakes with the puck through the first 10 games of the season as he has in the past.  He has an identical 1 goal and 9 assists in 10 games to defensive partner Andrei Markov. At 26 years old, the former Norris Trophy winner is entering his prime years and just may have a chance at adding to that hardware if this continues for Subban. He and Markov have played a huge part in the 9-1-0 start to the season.


Tomas Plekanec 9/10

Tomas Plekanec has had another great to the season. He’s second in plus-minus with a +10 rating. In 10 games, he has 5 goals and 5 assists.  He is also pivoting most likely the best line in hockey so far this season. He and Pacioretty have also created a dynamic penalty killing duo.  His point per game pace will most likely fall as he is known to start off fast. He also just signed a well deserved 2 year/ 12 million dollar contract earlier this month. That’s right the top 2-way centre on the team will be around another 2 years.


Brendan Gallagher 8.8/10

Brendan Gallagher is the grinder of the first line. He crashes the net and  takes punishment for it. He has continued to do so this season, starting strong right out of the gate. He started the first few games a little slower but the hard-nosed 5’9 Gallagher is back to his old tricks. He even scored the most borderline goal  scored so far this season. He currently has 4 goals and 9 points in 10 games. This is the best offensive start of his career so far, so don’t be surprised to see Gallagher surpass 50 points for the first time ever this season.  He should be able to continue on his hard-nosed play all season.


Jeff Petry 8.6/10

Jeff Petry has provided Alexei Emelin with a reliable defensive partner. Some  nights, he and Emelin even outplay the first pairing. Petry is that stable second pairing defenseman that the Habs need to back up the first pairing of Subban-Markov. While his offensive numbers is not where it was expected to be with this tremendous offensive outburst from the Habs, he still has a +5 rating. He is also reliable when carrying the puck giving the Habs another defenseman not named PK or Andrei who can carry the puck responsibly, actually so can Nathan Beaulieu and Tom Gilbert so the Habs are much more mobile to start this season. Petry should remain as reliable defenseman and could even find himself playing on the top pairing if Markov is given a night off.


David Desharnais 8.5/10

David Desharnais has done an amazing job so far this season slotted in as the team’s third line centre. He has 2 goals and 7 points in 10 games, along with a +2 rating.  He has shown that he doesn’t need to play with his good friend Max Pacioretty to be successful. It also has given him a chance to show off his underrated shot more often.  The only down fall is sometimes his size is still a liability as he still gets pushed off the puck sometimes by a bigger opponent, but on the third line he looks a lot better than in a top line role. Desharnais’  point per game will probably stay around the same as he centres a good offensive third line who often has more ice time than the second line.


Alex Galchenyuk 8.5/10

Alex Galchenyuk has made a smooth transition to his natural centre position thus far. He has a goal and 7 points in 10 games and has a -1 rating.  There are still bumps in his play but it’s normal as he gets used to being a centre in the NHL. He has had many flashes of brilliance so far this season as well as other shifts where he is invisible but he seems to get the job done, learning a better defensive game alongside line-mate Lars Eller.  He was expected to have some bumps but seems to be able to cope with the tough parts of this position. He will only get better at 21 years old he’s the best player on his line and is possbly the most skilled forward on this team. He will be a force this season and could end up with 55-60 points this year as he progresses into that first line centre.


Torrey Mitchell 8.5/10

Torrey Mitchell has had an incredible beginning of the season on the offensive side of things. He has 4 goals and an assist in 10 games. This is great for the fourth liner who will  likely decline offensively very soon. Many teams however call his line by far the best fourth line in the league alongside Brian Flynn and Devante Smith-Pelly. They combine for 5 goals (Flynn having the other one) and control the puck in the offensive zone.  He is also a great defensive specialist who has contributed to a great team penalty kill throughout the first 10 games. He is clearly overachieving offensively but his defensive game will stay very game.


Mike Condon 8.4/10

Mike Condon has only played 2 games for the Habs this season, but has looked great with a 2-0-0 record allowing 3 goals on 57 shots, good for a .947 save percentage. Those are amazing numbers but he played against teams that didn’t really pose the Canadiens a challenge (the Ottawa Senators and Buffalo Sabres). One of the games he faced 20 shots and the other his team scored 7 goals. He really hadn’t had his first true challenge in the NHL.  Condon has done a good job this season but he won’t be a hero as he will dress for 12-18 games this year.


Dale Weise 8.4/10

Dale Weise has had good start on the third line playing with David Desharnais and Tomas Fleischmann. He has put up 3 goals and 5 points in 10 games.  His biggest asset so far is his speed. He is one of if not the fastest skater on this team. His hands can sometimes be a little behind but Weise manages. He is also great on the penalty kill with either Lars Eller or Torrey Mitchell. Weise can also disappear at times but as soon as you forget he’s there he’ll get a big goal to remind you he is there.  Weise provides a great scoring depth and good defensive responsibility, but don’t expect him to be a star.


Lars Eller 8.4/10

Lars Eller has had a decent start to the season. He is a key part to helping Alex Galchenyuk transition to centre. Eller is a good two-way player who lacks certain vision to be a play-maker in this league, which makes sending him to the wing make sense.  But he remains that defensive specialist who is often paired up on the penalty kill. He and Galchenyuk form a good duo 5-on-5 even if Alex Semin is often trailing way behind they still manage. Eller has 3 goals and 4 points in 10 games. He will likely keep up this pace of 35 points this season.


Tomas Fleischmann 8.3/10

Tomas Fleischmann has been a great acquisition for the Habs so far this season. He has put up 2 goals and an assist in 10 games. He like Weise is a very dependable third liner who can provide some nice depth and has defensive skills that are useful for the penalty kill. What he doesn’t have is Weise’s speed but has better hands making them both nice compliments for Desharnais on the third line.


Alexei Emelin 8.3/10

Alexei Emelin has had a good start to the season alongside his defensive partner Jeff Petry. While Petry carries the puck up ice, Emelin plays a more conservative defensive style. He is the biggest hitter on the Habs something that is needed. His physical play adds to a team full of skill, helping balance the grit alongside forward Devante Smith-Pelly. Emelin has started the season a +5 with an assist in 10 games.


Nathan Beaulieu 8.2/10

Nathan Beaulieu is still adjusting to the NHL game and is developing on the third pairing with Tom Gilbert. He plays the least of all 6 defenseman per game however, his ice time increases as Therrien begins to trust Beaulieu more and more. What Beaulieu does with his limited ice time is he carries the puck up ice well and also has a physical side. He’s the only Habs player to have a real toe-to-toe fight.  He will definitely improve as the season goes on and could eventually jump Emelin to be in the top 4 defensemen.


Devante Smith-Pelly 8.1/10

Devante Smith-Pelly has come in this season in much better shape and it has showed on the ice. He may be the only forward who has played a game for the Habs without a goal but it has made up for it with the physicality he has brought to the table. He is second in hits behind Alexei Emelin on the team in hits. Smith-Pelly has been a huge part in the 4th line’s success with his forechecking and play in the corners. He currently has 2 assists in 10 games.  He should continue to bring physicality to the table the rest of the season.


Brian Flynn 8/10

Brian Flynn has had a great start to the season on the Canadiens famous 4th line. He has used his speed to help his line-mates.  He has looked good in every game as he fights to keep his spot in the line up considering he’s the team’s 12th forward. Flynn will not be the guy who will score a lot but he will use his speed to draw penalties or create chances for another player.


Tom Gilbert 7.7/10

Tom Gilbert has been an effective third pairing defenseman to start the season.  He has been able to lead the rush much like his defensive partner Nathan Beaulieu, he often makes mistakes that can affect the team. But has also helped save some scoring chances. As the season goes along who knows how long Gilbert will stay or whether he gets traded.


Alex Semin 7.5/10

Alex Semin has been very inconsistent this season. He said he wanted to get his career back on track but if he continues to only show up every 3 games then this may be his last shot in the NHL. When he does play he can be a dominate force. He seems very hesitant to shoot for some reason although he is a natural born scorer. He is a great player and hopefully he gets the message from being scratched for the 11th of the game of the season after so many inconsistent games.


The Others


Paul Byron is set to take Semin’s spot in the line up for game 11 against the Edmonton Oilers.  He has yet to play a game.


Jarred Tinordi and Greg Pateryn have yet to play a game.

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