The Montreal Canadiens report card (Forwards addition) Part 1
Tomas Plekanec – (A-) Plekanec is known to be one of the better 2 way forwards of the game today, always playing against the top lines and able to shut down some of the big stars in the game.
He is used in every situation possible by his coaches and has done a very good job as usual doing so. He now is tied for the team lead in points with 13.
Brian Gionta – (C+) Although playing on the same line as Plekanec and used in a similar fashion, his numbers haven’t been there this year. Gionta known as a goal scorer hasn’t been able to find the score sheet as much as he, his coaches and the fans want him too. The fact that he wears the “C” on his jersey says a lot about his character, and is really a key factor when a team welcomes new management, coaches and players to the roster.
Rene Bourque – (A-) Is this the same Bourque that the Habs acquired from Calgary last season for Cammalleri? Its been said that Bourque was not 100% last season as he was fighting an injury, and that probably was true considering he had to have surgery in the offseason. Bourque knew from the start of this season he had to win over the fans, and fast. He did just that by playing hard aggressive hockey, driving to the net and scoring goals.
David Desharnais – (C-) Given the fact that Desharnais was the #1 centre in Montreal last year, and well deserved at that, he has really fallen down the ladder this season. He’s been struggling to find chemistry with his line, easily being knocked off the puck, is one of the few forwards with a minus (+/-), and has been terrible in the face-off circle. Desharnais is also playing for a contract next year, and with the likes of Eller, Galchenyuk and even Leblanc in the wings, it maybe tough to continue his journey with the Habs.
Erik Cole – (D+) I’m giving Cole a (+) instead of a (-) next to his grade as he had his best game of the season last night, by far. Cole has really struggled this season, not being able to find the back of the net, not showing that drive to the net Habs fans seen of him last year, and giving up on some of his back checks resulting in goals against. It was no fluke the season he displayed last year, it just seems like its taking him longer to find his stride this year.
Max Pacioretty – (B-) Has anyone ever thrown a monkey off their back into the crowd? Yep, Max sure did, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Pacioretty also struggled early on in the season, but even an emergency surgery didn’t hold this guy out of the lineup for more than 4 games. Now with 4 goals in his last 4 games, Pacioretty holds the team lead with Plekanec for most points.
Lars Eller – (B+) A few games in the “dog house” was probably the best thing Michel Therrien could have given young Lars Eller. Ever since his return to the lineup, Eller has been bounced around from different lines, with different line mates, but has passed any test given to him. Eller has really shown his great play making skills, defensive game, speed and drive to be better. Don’t be surprised to see him land a full-time job in the top 6.
Brandon Prust – (A-) Quite possible the most effective UFA pickup in the off-season. Some questioned the term and amount that was given to Prust, after all he is just a 4th line player….WRONG. Prust brings so much to the table in Montreal, something they have lacked for years. A guy who sticks up for his teammates and will fight anybody of any size or stature, plays a leadership role, very good on the penalty kill while blocking shots and throwing a few points on the board as he has seen some offensive players on his line.
Alex Galchenyuk – (A-) I never thought i would be putting such a high-grade next to this kids name so fast. Galchenyuk is simply impressive. He has been putting points on the board including his involvement in some game winners, he is leading the team in (+/-), showing some very nice hands for such a young guy, and showcasing his play making skills that is unheard of for an 18, now 19-year-old kid. Montreal fans should be excited to watch this guy develop right in front of their own eyes.
Brandon Gallagher – (A-) Another surprise to the Habs lineup this year, nobody expected for this kid to make the jump so fast, but his attitude and hardwork with the bulldogs gave him the opportunity to come to training camp, and needless to say, Gallagher didn’t want to put the bulldogs jersey back on anymore. His drive, fearless attitude, hard work and quick release wrist shot are a few things that make this kid such a fun player to watch.
Colby Armstrong – (D+) Nothing fancy, just your typical 4th liner. Armstrong has been….unnoticeable, which could be a good thing too, but in this case, it’s not great. 4th liners should be able to bang a few pucks in the net over time, and he has had his chances, but never capitalized. A decent penalty killer with a veteran name tag, I expect Colby to get better as the season goes on, and to be a key grinder once the playoffs start, but for now, his grade sticks.
Travis Moen – (C+) Moen also hasn’t been as involved as he use to be, but that could be due to the depth of this team now where he doesn’t need to fill in on the top line anymore. Moen is your perfect 4th line winger….he’s tough, he’ll fight, he kills penalties, and he plays hard. A slow start could have been due to the lockout, but i do expect him to pick his intensity up a few notches, and come playoff time, you can never have too many Stanley cup rings in your lineup.
Ryan White – (C-) This could probably be the most arguable grade on the roster. White has been put on close observations in the last little while, and rightfully so, he should be. His benching was due to a lack of on ice discipline, not due to a lack of intensity, or a lack of heart or grit, but discipline. He’s a very good 4th line player, he’s young, fast, aggressive, fearless and will chip in with a dirty goal once in a while. White just needs to be coached, and that is exactly what is happening now. Those mistakes will start finding their way in his back pocket rather than on his sleeve.
- STAY TUNED FOR OUR REPORT CARD ON THE HABS BLUELINE AND GOALTENDING.
The Blueline Caper