Rabid Habs

The Forum: The Underrated Habs Story

The first month of the 2017-2018 season provided plenty of drama for the Montreal Canadiens and their fans, but as is so often the case drama-filled situations, they often lead to everyone missing some of the quieter, but equally as important moments that slip by under all the other noise.

With that in mind we asked our contributors, what has been the most underrated or ignored story coming out of the first month of the season?

Kyle Roussel (@kyleroussel) – Man, it is *really* hard to think of things that go ignored when the team gets off to such a putrid start. I’d have to say that given the impact of Price’s cap hit as of next year, the fact that he hasn’t been very good for the last little while had gone relatively underplayed. Or maybe it hasn’t and it’s all in my head. I’ve backed away from sports media and Twitter over the last few months so I’m not fully exposed to all of the discussions. Also, I suppose he deserves the benefit of the doubt, but even stretching back into last season, he has not been the better goalie more often enough. Considering the entire house of cards topples if Price is anything less than stellar, he has to get back on his game really soon.

Ian Boisvert (@BoisvertIan) – To steal from Zach’s last few The Recency Bias episodes, the most underrated story line from the early goings of the season has to be the resurgence of Brendan Gallagher. Gallagher’s biggest concern coming into this season was his health; in particular, his ability to bounce back from stretches of poor health. His broken hand seemed to hinder him a bit last year, but that seems to be gone this year. Gallagher wass tied for third on the team in shots with 37 heading into Thursday’s game against the Wild, and coming out of that game he leads all Habs in goals this season with six.

More numbers? Going into the game against the Wild, Gallagher lead the Canadiens in primary points per sixty in all situations (2.4 P1/60), an indicator that he’s not just benefiting from strong play around him; Gallagher is creating offense for this team, which should be encouraging for a team with very few right-handed forwards.

And in the category of “about time,” Gallagher seems to have gotten the attention of the officials as of late. The net-bound pest has drawn nine penalties while only taking two; his +7 in penalty differential leads the Canadiens.

With forwards like Pacioretty and Galchenyuk hogging the limelight with the negative narratives that surround them (something I’m sure they’d happily give up), a true success story among the Canadiens’ forward group has flown under the radar.

Zach Vanasse (@ZachDropsTweets) – Considering all the hand-wringing we’ve been doing over whether or not Alex Galchenyuk is a winger or a centre for years now, it’s been interesting to see how little we’re talking about the fact that, hey, Jonathan Drouin seems to be a legit centre. First or second line centre seems to still be a question (but how many “legit first line” centres are there in the NHL really?), but there’s no denying this kid can play down the middle.

This relative silence around Drouin’s success at centre may stem from the fact that, for whatever reason, Max Pacioretty and Drouin lacked chemistry, but that experiment seems over for the moment (even Sidney Crosby doesn’t work well with everyone). As of Thursday night Drouin was generally skating with Paul Byron and Artturi Lehkonen and that combo has seemed to work nicely.

Speaking of Byron, did any of us really expect him to continue producing the way he did last season? It’s only one month (and keep in mind it was a horrific offensive month for the Habs), but Byron is currently on pace for a 20 goals-plus season. He scored 22 last year.