Stock Up, Stock Down for Montreal Canadiens' Top Stars
Need more miserable stats? The Habs haven't won a game in regulation since the Olympic break. They have been outscored 13-3 in their last three games. The power play has cashed in on just one of its last 21 opportunities.
This is not the time of the year to be playing poorly, yet the Canadiens are doing just that. They need to start winning games, and it's their stars that need to step up and lead the way.
How have Montreal's stars been playing lately? This article will examine whether their play has been trending in a positive or negative direction since midseason.
Here is a stock-up, stock-down report for the Montreal Canadiens' top stars.
Max Pacioretty: Up
Max Pacioretty had a slow start to the season. A leg injury forced him to miss time, and it took him even longer to find his game upon his return.
A hat trick on November 19 against Minnesota kick-started his season, however, and he's been a star ever since.
Going into that Minnesota game, Pacioretty had two goals in 12 games. His stats now? Thirty goals in 58 games.
That means that over his last 46 games, he has found the back of the net 28 times, an average of 0.61 goals per game. That would rank him second in the NHL behind only Alex Ovechkin among those who have played 30 or more games.
As it stands on the season, Pacioretty's goals-per-game average sits at a very solid 0.52, good for fourth among NHL scorers who meet the minimum-games requirement.
In years past, Pacioretty has been known for his cold streaks. This season, his longest streak without a point is five games. His longest goalless streak is eight games. Those kinds of slumps, which crept up near the beginning of the season, can be dealt with.
Pacioretty's stock is certainly on the rise, not only with the Canadiens, but around the league as a whole. He's truly developing into an elite scorer in the NHL.
P.K. Subban: Down
Something just doesn't seem right with P.K. Subban lately.
Statistically, his numbers are fine. On the season, he has 10 goals and 35 assists in 67 games. Of those, four goals and 13 assists have come in 2014.
But when you watch him play night in and night out, you notice that he's a little tentative. He looks hesitant to take the risks that make him the player that he is. He looks almost like he's lost some confidence.
Could it be that the reigning Norris Trophy winner isn't sure of his game? And if so, who could possibly be to blame?
It's certainly fair to wonder if head coach Michel Therrien's foolishness has finally taken its toll on Subban.
The coach's treatment of his young star has been questionable all season. Subban has been benched on numerous occasions for turnovers, penalties and mental mistakes.
Therrien has been stubborn in how he delivers messages to Subban. At times he has preferred having his best player on the bench, even when it has cost his team a chance at winning the game.
Therrien's approach to developing his young talent is old school, and perhaps it has that label for a reason. The game has changed and players have changed. They don't respond in the same way players did a decade or two ago.
On the outside, Subban looks fine. He says all the right things in the media and constantly sports a wide smile. But on the ice, things are obviously not OK.
Quite simply, P.K. hasn't been as good as he can be in the second half of the season thus far. Is it the fault of his stubborn bench boss? It could very well be. Regardless, Subban's stock is down in 2014.
Alex Galchenyuk: Up
Alex Galchenyuk recently missed 15 games due to a broken hand, so the sample size for his stock report is fairly small. But when comparing his recent play to earlier this season, the young winger is trending in the right direction.
The 20-year-old returned to the lineup after the Olympic break and has been a constant source of speed and energy ever since. He has been fast through the neutral zone and tenacious on the puck in the offensive zone.
The extra rest created from the injury and the Olympics seem to have energized Galchenyuk. He's certainly been playing his best hockey of the season over the past two weeks. Coach Therrien seems to have noticed, too, as he has rewarded his prized prospect with some power-play time of late.
Statistically, he has two goals (one on the power play) and an assist in eight post-Olympic games. He sits at 12 goals and 14 assists in 52 games this season.
The addition of Thomas Vanek has bumped Galchenyuk down the depth chart, but he remains a key player for Montreal's stretch run. As one of the most talented forwards on the squad, the Canadiens will need him to contribute during the final month of the season.
Galchenyuk is still only showing glimpses of what he can do as a hockey player, yet it's obvious he's becoming more comfortable as an NHL player. His stock is on the rise, and the future remains exciting.
Andrei Markov: Even
There were questions before the season as to whether or not Andrei Markov and his twice-repaired knees could hold up for an 82-game season. Well, we're 67 games (plus the Olympics) deep, and the 35-year-old continues to impress.
Markov has had a productive season. He has six goals and 32 assists in 67 games and is a plus-four. He leads the Habs with 25:08 of ice time per game and contributes heavy minutes on both the power play and penalty kill.
There was a short cold stretch in January where he was victimized for some ugly (or pretty, depending which team you're cheering for) goals. His critics immediately began saying his knees and age had caught up with him. But he has been playing better post-Olympics, which has brought his stock back up to even.
Markov is unsigned heading into next season, which led to some trade rumors just before the deadline. The Canadiens decided to hold onto him, however, as he is a key part of their team and will be integral to the team's success over the final month.
He has expressed a desire to stay in Montreal, according to ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun, for next season and beyond. A contract extension is likely to happen.
Markov has been solid all season for Montreal and will be for the remainder of the season. The Canadiens need him to help anchor the blue line.
Carey Price: Up
Heading into the Olympic Games, there were question marks surrounding Team Canada's goaltending situation. Would it be Roberto Luongo or Carey Price in goal when it mattered? And could either play at an Olympic level?
Well, Price got the nod and delivered.
By now, everyone knows the stats, but they're worth mentioning again. Price posted a 5-0 record with a 0.59 goals-against average and a .972 save percentage. He ended the tournament on a 164-minute shutout streak. He was named best goaltender. And most importantly, he returned to Montreal with a gold medal around his neck.
There isn't any better way to build your stock than by doing what Price did on the biggest hockey stage. Unless you did it while injured. Oh, wait. Price did that, too.
Unfortunately, that injury has flared up and has kept Montreal's star goaltender on the sideline since Sochi. He is progressing, at least according to TSN.ca, and participated in a full practice on March 11. There is still no set date for his return, however.
The Olympics have Price's stock way up, and he has finally gotten the recognition he deserves as one of the world's best goaltenders. Now the Canadiens need him back at full health to help them with their playoff push.
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