Grades for Every Montreal Canadiens Player at the 2014 Winter Olympics So Far
The Montreal Canadiens have seven representatives playing for their respective countries at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.
Each has been expected to play a different role for their nation. Some have responded well, while others aren't having such a great tournament. A certain Norris Trophy-winning defenseman hasn't even been given a fair chance.
The Olympic tournament has completed its round-robin play, with the qualifying round and playoffs set to come.
Here are some grades for the Montreal Canadiens at the 2014 Winter Olympics so far, based on their performance and the opportunity they have been given.
Peter Budaj: B-
Jaroslav Halak carried the Slovakians to a bronze medal in 2010, and after a tough schedule in 2014, it was clear that the St. Louis Blues' starting goaltender would have to repeat his heroics if his country stood a chance in Sochi.
That meant Peter Budaj would be watching from the bench. Unless, of course, Halak was hurt or chased from net by the Americans or Russians.
Well, the latter happened in the Slovakians' first game. The Americans exploded for five goals on their first 25 shots of the game, chasing Halak and giving Budaj a chance to shine and perhaps earn another start.
Instead, Budaj followed suit and allowed two goals on just eight shots. The Americans walked away with an easy 7-1 win.
In defense of the Canadiens' backup goaltender, it was an unfair situation to be put into. His team was clearly outmatched and by the time Budaj entered the net, the Slovakians looked liked they just wanted to be back in the cozy confines of the Olympic village.
Regardless, Budaj failed to take advantage of his opportunity in goal.
He wound up watching Halak from the bench as the Slovakians lost their second game to Slovenia. He was then a surprise scratch for Slovakia's final game against Russia, as third-string Jan Laco drew the start and held the Russians scoreless until the shootout.
It will be interesting to see who the Slovakians start in their qualifying-round game against the Czech Republic on February 18. It will not, however, be Budaj.
Stats: 1 GP (14:32), 4.53 GAA, .750 SV%
Max Pacioretty: B
Judging Max Pacioretty's performance at the Sochi Olympics is difficult because he has been used sparingly by American coach Dan Bylsma.
Pacioretty began the tournament on Team USA's fourth line along with Paul Stastny and T.J. Oshie. They developed immediate chemistry and were one of the team's best lines. Pacioretty was credited with an assist on one of Paul Stastny's two markers. He played a solid game in 11:30 of ice time.
Based on their line's performance against Slovakia, it seemed they had earned a somewhat-regular shift against Russia. Instead, Pacioretty spent most of the second half of the game watching from the bench after he had taken a holding penalty early in the second period. He finished the game with a minus-one rating in just 8:31.
Things continued to get worse for the Canadiens' sniper as he was left out of the lineup in favor of Derek Stepan in the Americans final round-robin game against Slovenia. This move was probably more to get Stepan into the lineup than it was to get Pacioretty out of it, but it still shows that Bylsma doesn't consider him an integral part of the lineup.
Pacioretty started the tournament hot but has cooled down considerably ever since. He'll hope to push his stock a bit higher in the playoff round.
Stats: 2 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 P, +1, 2 PIM
Alexei Emelin: B+
Alexei Emelin has had a unspectacular—yet solid—tournament thus far for the Russians.
He has consistently been teamed up with Evgeny Medvedev on Russia's second pairing and has not looked out of place against some of the top competition in the world.
In fact, while watching a Team Russia game, Emelin is barely noticeable. But for a shutdown defenseman who rarely offers much offensively, that isn't a bad thing.
Emelin hasn't earned a point and has been even in the plus/minus rating in each game of the tournament. He did take a high sticking penalty in the first game against Slovenia.
Russia's slow start has been one of the surprises of the tournament, but that's been more because of the lack of offense. Emelin and the rest of the defense have done their parts on the back end.
Stats: 3 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 P, Even, 2 PIM
Andrei Markov: B
As Russia's top defenseman, expectations were high on Andrei Markov heading into Sochi 2014. He's been good, but certainly not great, which has led to his "B" grade.
Markov has been paired with Slava Voynov as Russia's No. 1 pair. He has also been used as the lone defenseman on its top power play.
Team Russia has been struggling mightily to score goals. A lot of this blame can be placed on its highly skilled forwards, but its defense isn't helping either.
On the bigger international ice surface, defensemen become a key part of a team's attack. One look at the overall scoring leaders proves that, where Drew Doughty (five points), Erik Karlsson (five points), Olli Maata (four points) and Shea Weber (four points) are all among the top 10.
Team Russia has earned just five total points from its defenders, two of those coming from Markov. Relying solely on its forwards hasn't worked so far for Russia. Their defenders need to support their attack moving forward.
Russia stumbled in the round robin and now needs to play a qualifying game against Norway. They should win that easily but will need to be better to beat Finland in the quarter-finals.
Markov, as their top offensive defenseman, needs to add more on the offensive attack.
Stats: 3 GP, 0 G, 2 A, 2 P, +1, 0 PIM
Tomas Plekanec: A-
As the Czech Republic's captain, Tomas Plekanec has been very good. He hasn't been special, but no one other than the ageless-wonder Jaromir Jagr has been.
Plekanec has played every shift on the Czech's top line with Jagr and Roman Cervenka. He has averaged 21:26 a game in being used in every situation possible.
The Canadiens' top center has managed to earn two assists (both on Jagr goals), but he has been unable to put the puck in the net himself. The shots (nine) and the chances have been there, but he just hasn't been able to finish. A goal or two would've earned him top grades so far at Sochi.
Plekanec does seem to have a natural chemistry with Jagr. Watching the two play together has made Canadiens fans (and general manager Marc Bergevin) wish the Habs had signed him instead of Daniel Briere last summer.
The Czech Republic will take on a solid Slovakian team in their qualifying game on February 18. Plekanec, and Jagr, will need to be at their best if they hope to move on to the quarter-finals.
Stats: 3 GP, 0 G, 2 A, 2 P, Even, 0 PIM
P.K. Subban: B
It's tough to judge a player who hasn't been given a fair chance to play at the Sochi 2014 Olympics, and that's exactly the case with P.K. Subban.
The reigning Norris Trophy defenseman has appeared in just one game for Team Canada, as its top six is basically set in stone. Coach Mike Babcock even admitted so, according to NHL.com's Arpon Basu on Twitter:
"I'm going to be honest with you, Hamhuis and P.K. don't really have a chance" - Mike Babcock, who likes his three pairs on defence— Арпон Басу (@ArponBasu) February 17, 2014
Subban did appear in Canada's 6-0 dismantling of Austria. He had just 11:41 of ice time, was held pointless and did not have a shot on goal. He was a scratch in Canada's two other games.
The Canadiens' star D-man played hard in his limited opportunity, but let's be honest. He has never been a part of Babcock's plans and, barring injury, likely won't be moving forward.
Stats: 1 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 P, Even, 0 PIM
Carey Price: A
Carey Price has been called on as Team Canada's No. 1 goalie in Sochi and has responded so far. He had made just one small mistake, which has led to a just-below-perfect grade.
Life as the Montreal Canadiens' goaltender and Team Canada's goaltender couldn't be more different in terms of style of play.
For his club squad, Price is used to being peppered with shots on a nightly basis. His team is horrible in terms of puck possession and gets outshot almost every game. In fact, Price has made the second-most saves in the entire NHL.
As the national-team goalie, the 26-year-old has mostly been a spectator through the round-robin play. He has faced just 35 total shots in two games played. Yet he must remain focused through long periods of time without seeing any action.
Price has done so, allowing just two goals against. A mistake playing the puck against Norway led to the team's only tally, while he had no chance on Tuomo Ruutu's beautiful tip-in against Finland.
Montreal's star netminder has answered the bell so far for Canada, yet Coach Babcock has yet to name his starting goalie for its quarter-final game. It is widely expected to be Price, however, after he drew the start and won against Finland.
Stats: 2 GP, 2 W, 1.00 GAA, .943 SV%
Update: Carey Price has been named Team Canada's starting goaltender for its quarter-final game, according to TSN's Ryan Rishaug on Twitter:
Price starts.— Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) February 18, 2014