Gritty Montreal Canadiens centre Maxim Lapierre was honoured as the Molson Cup Player of the Month for December, marking the first time the St. Leonard native has captured the award.
With four goals and three assists in 13 games, Lapierre collected 11 points in Molson Cup standings last month after being voted first star of the game once and getting two second-star selections. He finished ahead of teammates Matt D’Agostini and Andrei Kostitsyn, each with a 10-point Molson Cup total in December.
The most impressive performance during that span was when the guy they call "Lappy" had a “Gordie Howe hat trick” (a goal, an assist, and a major penalty) to help the Canadiens beat the New York Rangers 6-2 on Dec. 4.
As Canadiens fans scratch their heads over Chris Higgins' ongoing injury troubles and revel in the arrival of top prospect Max Pacioretty due to a busy infirmary, Lapierre is steadily becoming the type of forward the Canadiens have been searching for.
He's intense on the fore-check, an agitator, very responsible in the defensive zone, and gaining in offensive confidence. Flanked by Guillaume Latendresse and Tom Kostopoulos, the trio gives head coach Guy Carbonneau a shut-down line with some offensive punch.
As the team's top stars continue to struggle, those three hard workers are even getting some rare power play time, a true sign that the coach is all about rewarding hard work. It also sends the message that Carbo isn't happy about top guns who have been shooting blanks with the man advantage.
After spending the last two seasons with the best power play in the NHL, the Habs are currently ranked 27th with a paltry 13.4 percent efficiency. Only Phoenix, Nashville, and Columbus are worse with the man advantage.
Lapierre was sent down to Hamilton for a brief spell last season and it seems he got the message. Watch for this young man in the next few years as he could become what Carbonneau was for the Habs a couple of decades ago.