Back in November, I covered the Montreal Canadiens in my Team Prospectus series for Hockey Prospectus. How do you think the Habs have fared on the three Big Questions that I posed for Montreal? They were:
Big Question #1: Can the Habs win with Carey Price in goal?
Answer: Yes, but don’t expect a run to the conference finals with Carey Price. As Jaroslav Halak is proving to be a very special netminder, the extra millions may have been worth it.
In hindsight: Price has gone through hot and cold stretches but has outperformed Halak to date.
Big Question #2: What does top defenseman Andrei Markov mean to the team, and can they count on him to be healthy?
Answer: Andrei Markov is a true difference maker–the difference between making the playoffs or not, the difference between advancing in the playoffs or not. But his health clearly isn’t a given, and it’s of paramount importance to the Canadiens.
In hindsight: The Canadiens will make the playoffs…but yes, Markov is an injury-prone difference-maker.
Big Question #3: What can Montreal expect from Tomas Plekanec, and for how long?
Answer: Despite the fast start, Plekanec should finish right around where VUKOTA has predicted for 2010-11, and 2011-12 as well.
In hindsight: Plekanec’s already at 11.9 GVT, exceeding VUKOTA–second on the Canadiens after Price.
So looking back on 2009-10, who were the most valuable Canadiens skaters at even strength? Let’s check out their ESTR’s:
|Best and worst Canadiens by Even Strength Total Rating, 2009-10|
|See Glossary for explanation of stats|
Up front, we see a lot of strength in the Habs’ top six forwards, from Mike Cammalleri, Brian Gionta and perhaps surprisingly from Benoit Pouliot. And as you’d figure, Andrei Markov was the most important Canadien.
Conversely, three of the four worst performers were defensemen, with Ryan O’Byrne and Hal Gill helping only on the defensive end, while Paul Mara hurt on both ends of the ice. Like O’Byrne and Gill, fan favorite Maxim Lapierre also hurt the Habs greatly on offense.
|New Canadiens by Even Strength Total Rating, 2009-10|
Midseason acquisition James Wisniewski’s addition from the Islanders may help more on the power play than at 5-on-5, while former King Jeff Halpern fit the mold of a defensive forward.