Montreal Canadiens Organizational Players of January
Carey Price led the way for the Canadiens once again, Marie-Philip Poulin continues to dazzle, and Joni Ikonen returns.
Montreal Canadiens Player of the Month: Carey Price
For the second straight month, Price was the best player for the Canadiens. After missing the team’s holiday road trip to end December, the Canadiens’ goaltender came back in force after the birth of his second daughter.
Price was 5-3-0 with two shutouts and a 1-0 loss. His save percentage of .953 and goals against average of 1.51 were second in the NHL, behind only Juuse Saros who played in five games. He was the lone Canadiens player named to the All-Star team, but chose to skip it to rest for the second half of the season.
The final four games of the month, Price went 4-0 with a shutout, 1.00 goals against average, and a .971 save percentage and was instrumental to the team’s success and when the team’s scoring dried up, they were able to rely on their goaltender.
If December was his return to form, January was the launching pad to dominance and if the Canadiens are to make a playoff push, Price will be a huge part of that. If there were a lot of people worried about the first quarter of his season, Price has seemingly put those worries to rest for now.
And I’m just going to leave this here...
Les Canadiennes Player of the Month: Marie-Philip Poulin
What is there to say about the Canadiennes captain? In six games this month, Poulin had seven goals and five assists and led the team with 12 points. Her line with Ann-Sophie Bettez and Jill Saulnier was so dominant that any one of those three - who each won Canadiennes Player of the Month already this season - could have won this.
All three were also named to Team Canada for the upcoming Rivalry Series in February.
Poulin opened the month with a hat trick against the Toronto Furies, which just happened to be broadcast on Sportsnet. She has goals in 13 of her last 15 games, and may have made the play of the year to earn an assist.
She took the puck and twisted her way through three Toronto defenders before backhanding the puck through the legs of a last Furies defender right on Saulnier’s stick who made no mistake.
Watch it for yourself:
This is just insane by @pou29. Also fun is @jill_saulnier's reaction. pic.twitter.com/Sij3JEANhz— Jared Book (@jaredbook) January 6, 2019
Watching the play live, it looked like a bouncing puck and a fortuitous bounce to Saulnier. It took a look at the video to see Poulin’s brilliance.
She leads the entire CWHL in scoring with 40 points (18 goals, 22 assists) in 21 games and looks well on her way to earning her third straight scoring title (not counting last year when she did not play due to the Olympics). She’ll obviously be in the MVP conversation as well.
Laval Rocket Player of the Month: Daniel Audette
After a few seasons of inconsistent play in the AHL, fans were wondering when they might see the best of Daniel Audette. He answered with an incredible month of play for the Laval Rocket in January. Tallying five goals and nine assists in 11 games, Audette is one of the main reasons his team is back to even sniffing around a potential playoff berth.
His offensive resurgence has come by finding a chemistry on a line with Jake Evans and Alex Belzile, with Byron Froese occasionally substituting in. Their ability to work as a unit along with Xavier Ouellet has sparked a slight improvement in the Rocket power play as well.
For Audette personally, everything is clicking into place in his game right now. His speed is allowing him to create space, and his playmaking has truly begun to shine as well. He’s not just making simple passes to feed teammates the puck, he’s finding seams across the zone that opposing defences aren’t covering.
Jake Evans gets his 10th goal of the year, great pass from Daniel Audette to set him up. pic.twitter.com/MofDbPxtvr— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) January 17, 2019
He’s getting into soft spots to finish off plays, leading to him finding the net more regularly, a good sign for a Rocket team missing many of its big forwards right now. As it stands, Audette is just three points off his career high, and the good news is he’s gotten there in 30 less games, Joël Bouchard might have finally woken up the best version we’ve seen of Daniel Audette yet.
European Prospect of the Month: Joni Ikonen
Both Alexander Romanov (for his World Junior performance) and Jesse Ylönen (after his return from the World Juniors to Liiga) have preformed very well, but in the end it was an easy choice to pick Joni Ikonen as the European player of the month. In his five games since his return from a seven month-long injury he has scored three goals, the stand out being an outstanding effort against Jukurit:
#Habs prospect Joni Ikonen with some kind of amazing! #GoHabsGo pic.twitter.com/n1cnWJTRwj— Patrik Bexell (@Zeb_Habs) January 25, 2019
The Finnish centre has gotten a lot of support from his KalPa coach Sami Kapanen. He has gotten heavy minutes and has been used to drive the play from his own end to the opponents zone. He has also been getting time on the second power play unit. Ikonen has a Corsi For of 58.8% compared to KalPa’s 49.5%. While the sample size is small it is still an indication that he is being used as the offensive weapon Montreal thought he would be when they drafted him. He will be a big part of KalPa’s push for the playoffs, and Ikonen himself guaranteed that the team would reach the playoffs in a recent interview with Eyes On The Prize.
North American Prospect of the Month: Allan McShane
The North American crop of talent drafted by the Canadiens last June has flown under the radar due to the emergence of the European talent and a somewhat tepid start to their own seasons. But 2018 fourth-round pick Allan McShane of the Oshawa Generals is starting to show the offensive flair that made him a value pick.
In January, McShane had seven goals and 12 assists (19 points) in 12 games as Oshawa tried to push their way up the Eastern Conference standings. They currently sit in fourth. McShane’s pace has grown immensely in the past month. He started the season with 24 points (13 goals, 11 assists) in his first 30 games.
He’s not going to blow anyone away with his skating, but his ability to see the game and find teammates in dangerous spots is what makes him so intriguing as a prospect, as our David St. Louis has written about recently.
CTT: Houde’s game-winning goal, McShane’s dominant play at centre
The depth of the Canadiens’ draft class was always one of the more intriguing parts of the huge haul of picks, and McShane is starting to hit his stride as the season’s most important time approaches. Oshawa is currently on a losing streak, but it may be good to keep an eye on McShane the rest of the season and into the playoffs.