It’s great, it’s exciting, the Habs are winning…what’s not to like? Not only are your Monteal Canadiens off to a record 4-0 start, but all four wins were on the road, their backup goalie, Mike Condon, has a convincing win, seven different players have goals, and 15 out of 18 roster players have points so far…and that’s a sample of just four games.
We’ve all seen enough hockey to know the Habs won’t go 82-0 and Max Pacioretty won’t score 164 goals…however it’s always good to see your team get off to a solid start, while showing a lot of good things on the ice.
Here’s a look at some of the keys so far…
Oh Captain, my Captain
Third in league scoring with 6 points. Tied for first in +/- with a plus-6. Tied for first in goals, with four. Four goals, two assists, 1.50 points per game, 17 shots on goal with a 23.5 shooting percentage, zero penalty minutes and one goal on the PP.
It’s fair to say that Max Pacioretty is off to a fiery start.
He scored on his first shot of the first game of the season and, so far in this very young season, hasn’t looked back.
For a player who has the tendency, like most scorers, to go into goal scoring droughts, and who, in those moments, tends to get down on himself, Pacioretty could not have picked a better way to start the season off.
Especially with that ‘C’ on his jersey.
My one concern, when Patches was selected to captain this team, was how he would react if or when he got into a slump. Would the added pressure of being a captain buoy or sink him?
We’re only four games in and Patches is sure to go into a funk or two before all is said and done, but for now, he is out of the gates and leading the race. The Habs couldn’t have asked for a better start.
I say this is the year he tops 40 goals.
Tomas Plekanec never ceases to amaze me. He is as steady as a metronome, delivers consistently solid performances at both ends of the ice, is one of the best at creating offense when short handed, and, in all other manners, continues to be an understatedly key cog in the Montreal Canadiens machine.
Plek has three goals in four games, a pace he certainly won’t maintain for the course of the season, but more importantly he no longer has to play second fiddle — ever again — to David Desharnais. It’s clear, this season, that, barring injuries, DD in the top-6 is over. And flanked by Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher, Plekanec is showing what he can do with top class linemates.
Linemates, mind you, that I’m not certain he’ll end the season with. If things progress as planned/hoped, Alex Galchenyuk could very well be the team’s top center by the end of the season.
Oh, and don’t worry, fans…the Habs and Plekanec will come to terms on a contract extension before the trade deadline. You read it here first.
Galchenyuk to Center
Speaking of the young Russian…err…American…through four games, Galchenyuk is looking every bit the NHL center that he has been pegged to be. Big, fast, and skilled with tremendous vision and a deft touch around the net.
I like Michel Therrien’s move to slot him as a second center, sheltering him, at least temporarily, from the best defenders the opposition has to throw at him. The way to properly develop players is to put them in positions to succeed, and a big part of team success is individual success.
So far, Chucky has found a great fit with the possession machine, Lars Eller, on one side of him and the wayward Alexander Semin on the other. The latter has yet to really find the spark he displayed during the pre-season, with the former looks like a great fit on the wing. Not to mention, having Eller on Chucky’s line give them another faceoff person if/when needed.
Through four games, Galchenyuk is averaging a respectible 15:05 of ice time, has four point (1G, 3A), is a plus-two, has one powerplay assist and one game winning goal.
It is going to be really interesting to see what this supremely talented player can do over 82 games, while playing his natural position!
The Price is still right
Carey Price has picked up where he left off last season. Winning the Jennings, Vezina, Hart, and Lindsey trophy’s this off season had pundits saying there was no way Price could duplicate those efforts this year. And while Price is certainly unlikely to win all four of those trophies again this season, I think that it is very possible for him to duplicate his numbers from last season.
Everything we’re seen from Price since he broke into the league, is a player who simply gets better, and better each year. This talent and stature as the best in the world were solidified during the last Olympics, and he carried that experience straight into the NHL. Since the Olympics, Price has been an unstoppable force. Moreover, unlike a Jim Carrey, or Jose Theodore, who caught lightning in a bottle, Price has been a slow and steady build towards the top of the heap.
As such, not only do I expect him to duplicate his numbers from last year (or at least come damn close!), but I think he will be a perennial Vezina favorite going forward, while also being in or close to MVP discussions.
Price is simply one of the best players in the world…at any position. Now if the Habs could only get their PP going…but that’s another story.
Subban the Horse
Leads all Habs with an average 25:49 of ice time with a high of 28:22 against the Bruins. P.K. has fours assists and only 6 shots on net — a number that is sure to change in the near future. For Subban, the question, however slight, was how he would react to being passed over as captain.
As I said before the season started, the fact that Pacioretty was chosen BY THE PLAYERS is not a minor detail in the captain selection process. And watching the interviews, you could see the Subban was very disappointed, despite saying all the right things.
But, as expected, Subban put it behind him and continues to be one of the most dominant defenseman in the league. His maturity on the ice is evident where, at any moment, he can just take control of the game, like he did against the Leafs.
Early season candidate to repeat as a Norris nominee.
Up next for this surging squad, are the New York Rangers. This will be a big test for the Canadiens, as the Rangers, like the Habs, are expected to challenged for the conference crown.
Should be a barn burner!
What have been some of the things you’ve liked about your Habs so far this season?
Now mostly removed from media, Kamal spent five years on radio, writing, reporting and analyzing the Montreal Canadiens.
A musician and entrepreneur at heart, he can’t get rid of the writing bug and loves to dissect the Habs!
Follow him on Twitter @KamalPanesar
(Photo credit: Montreal Canadiens website)