The Montreal Canadiens have made a fairly promising start to the season.
However, season ending injuries to defensemen Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges and underperforming players such as Scott Gomez and Lars Eller may give head coach Jacques Martin a headache but at the moment he can rely on some lesser-known players.
A lot of responsibility has fallen on PK Subban, and although the youngster isn’t the most popular player throughout the league, he still needs to understand how tough the caliber of play NHL is. Subban is given a lot of ice time, and he is a huge offensive threat from the point. However, his confidence sometimes means he gives the puck away cheaply, something he will phase out with experience.
Max Pacioretty has three goals and four assists this season, including the overtime winner against the Bruins last week. Pacioretty isn’t the only one who has been pulling their weight. Benoit Pouliot has nine goals and eleven assists, and helped Montreal to a win against Pittsburgh with a clever shootout goal.
The Habs seem to have a stock of promising youngsters. Most of the Hamilton Bulldogs who won the 2007 Calder Cup have moved on. Maxim Lapierre has also jumped ship to Anaheim, and his presence will be missed in Montreal.
However, David Desharnais scored his first ever NHL goal in his side’s defeat to Pittsburgh on Wednesday with a clever redirect. Desharnais hit 78 points last season for Hamilton and is certainly someone to keep an eye on.
Yannick Weber recently joined Subban on the Montreal defence, and although he’s been called up by the Habs in the past, he is now getting some good minutes and is a regular on the Habs blue-line.
The face of the Montreal roster has changed since the start of the season. However, Martin’s only addition to the squad since the season started has been defenseman James Wisniewski, who has made a dream stat to his career in Montreal.
In the summer of 2009, the Canadiens acquired Gomez, Brian Gionta and Mike Cammalleri to expensive contracts. A lot is expected of these experienced players, but this season they are not proving any value to their contracts. Gionta was rightly chosen as the Canadiens’ new captain and he is justifying his appointment on and off the ice.
However, Tomas Plekanec is once again stealing the show in Montreal. The Czech centre racked up 70 points last time out, and is the Canadiens’ top scorer this season with 34 points. Plekanec recently has been playing on the same line with the Montreal’s youngsters and at the moment, they are keeping the Canadiens afloat, along with some committed play from Wisniewski.
And while the youth movement in Montreal has been a nice addition, the Habs still need to rely on the likes of Gionta, Gomez, Cammalleri and other veterans as we enter the second half of the 2010-11 season.