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Grading the 2016-17 Canadiens: Our community’s evaluations of the goaltenders and defencemen

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We asked you to give each player a score for his performance this season, and these are the results.

Montreal Canadiens v Toronto Maple Leafs

A 2016-17 regular season that started and ended on an encouraging note was followed up by an all-too-brief playoff appearance for the Montreal Canadiens. Along the way were some big surprises and unexpected disappointments among the personnel, with some taking the next step in their careers and others falling back a pace.

Our season reviews broke down the play of each individual member of the team, and asked for your input at the end. The following grades were obtained from our community polls.

Goaltenders

There was a bit of concern in net going into the season as Carey Price was returning after an injury that prematurely ended his 2015-16 campaign. The team also had a new netminder to back him up, and while Al Montoya was an established veteran, it wasn’t known how he’d fare in Montreal.

Carey Price

Price did return and — other than a brief absence to start the season — was in perfect health all through the season and through the playoffs. He was back to his usual form at the start of the season, dipped a bit in the middle, and came back strong in the tail end. He overcame that lull to still post some of the best numbers in the league, and earned another Vezina Trophy nomination for his efforts.

Grade: A

Al Montoya

Montoya actually took on a starter’s role at the beginning of the season while Price was dealing with his ailment. He won three of his first four games of the season to help the Habs to another record start, though finished the season with an 8-6-4 record.

Grade: B+

Defencemen

With murmurs about the goaltending, there were loud debates about the defence, with many wondering how the team would come up with a top pairing with what they had. When all was said and done, the Habs managed to get it done by committee on the back end, and (with the help of Price) finished tied for third in fewest goals allowed on the season.

Andrei Markov

Ancient by modern NHL standards, the worry was that Markov would fall off the proverbial cliff at which every professional athlete eventually arrives. Despite the removal of his usual partner on the top duo, Markov was able to still contribute with whomever he was placed alongside, and managed to finish second among the defence corps with 36 points, and that while dressing for just 62 games. The General still has a lot left in that rusty old gas tank, and observers seemed to like what they saw.

Grade: A+ (OK, we may have cheated on this one, but he was very good)

Shea Weber

As the fandom and media world discussed the trade that led to Weber becoming a Canadien, he quietly went about his business on the ice — save for the odd crunching bodycheck or deafening yelp from a goal post that had taken the brunt of one of his patented slapshots. He led the team’s defencemen in points and finished fifth in club scoring, with his name on the scoresheet 42 times, and finished tied for second among all NHL defencemen in goal-scoring. That offence, along with a generally robust defensive game, were just what the best-case scenario outlined at the time of his acquisition, and left his team’s fans impressed.

Grade: A

Jeff Petry

Petry played with various partners over the course of the season, seeing lots of time in all three phases of the game and performing well no matter the situation. He has emerged as a top-four defender after failing to impress the Edmonton Oilers brass in his time with that team. He’ll be an important piece of the defence corps for several years to come.

Grade: B+

Alexei Emelin

Emelin had some good games this season in which he made the right reads on the ice, and some terrbile games that saw him sometimes traveling in the opposite direction as the puck. He can be a frustrating player to watch at times, but most members believed the good outweighed the bad.

Grade: B

Nathan Beaulieu

Beaulieu had a golden opportunity to claim a top-pairing role alongside a more physical defence partner at the start of the year, but fell down the ranks to the third pair, and wound up watching the Habs’ last game of the year from the pressbox. He struggles with decision-making, and too often turns a harmless situation into a dangerous one for his team. Despite that, he did post a career high in points, and is capable of transitioning the puck better than any other current blue-liner. Despite a rough season, most in the community still have faith that he will be able to reach the potential that is within his grasp.

Grade: B-

In conclusion, our community was either quite impressed with those tasked with the more defensive elements of the game, or perhaps just not very harsh critics of the players. We’ll see in our next instalment which of those theories holds for the forward s.