Montreal Canadiens Forward Max Pacioretty is proving his toughness, grit and leadership this season. The Habs are fortunate to have a player of Max’s caliber.
The Montreal Canadiens came out of the gate on fire, and won 13 out their first 15 games. This stellar start gave the Habs a huge cushion in the Standings, as they earned 27 points, out of a possible 30 points. The Canadiens are still benefiting from their hot start, as they are currently still in first place in the Atlantic Division.
During the month of October, and the first couple weeks of November, everything that the Habs did was right. It seemed like anyone could shoot and score at any given moment, because they got key contributions from so many different depth players. However, the Habs slowly have come back to reality, even though their still playing well, it’s nearly impossible to keep up that torrid pace.
During that amazing stretch a few snipers did struggle to score, and one those players was Captain Max Pacioretty. In Max’s first 24 games of the season he had only scored five goals. This put Max on pace for a dismal 17 goal season, which is very low, for Pacioretty’s standards.
As a result, some rumors circulated that their was friction between Max and Head Coach Michel Therrien. Sportsnet Insider Nick Kypreos even talked about this issue during a second period intermission of Hockey Night in Canada.
This no doubt sent chills through Canadiens fans, coast to coast. The season prior was greatly effected by rumors of disgruntled players and issues in the locker room. This was the main reason why the Canadiens shipped out fan favorite P.K. Subban to the Nashville Predators.
However, on December the 8th Therrien told the Media that Pacioretty had played through an injury. Pacioretty had a micro-fracture on his foot, and this was affecting his performance. From that point on, Pacioretty has been absolutely on fire.
Max’s Incredible December
During the end of November, and the beginning of December, the Habs struggled on their road trip through California. To make matters worse the Habs top offensive producer, Center Alex Galchenyuk, was injured and would be out indefinitely. As the month progressed the Habs injury woes continued as Andrew Shaw, David Desharnais, and Andrei Markov all were injured, and are still out.
Many felt that the Canadiens would be in trouble, and have a similar fate as they did a season ago. Spiraling out of control, and not being able to scoring more than two goals per game. However, Max Pacioretty has carried the team offensively, and put ridiculous numbers during the month.
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In the 12 games that the Canadiens have played so far in December, Max has scored 10 goals and totaled 15 points. He also has points in five in the last six games. Pacioretty has done this while playing with a revolving door of other players on his line.
Max was on pace for 17 goals after his first 24 games, but now he is on pace for 34 goals, after his resurgence. Also, Max’s numbers could receive another boost when Alex Galchenyuk returns from injury. The two have been dynamic when paired together in the past, and Pacioretty could be in line for a 40 goal campaign.
The Montreal Canadiens needed players to step up and fill the void with all of their injuries, and Max has stepped up. Pacioretty has given clutch performances as well, like his five point effort against the Colorado Avalanche.
Maxs’s assist on the the Game Winning goal last night, vs the Florida Panthers, was a beautiful backhand pass, after some hard work along the boards. The play was subtle, but it was clutch, and it helped seal the deal for the Habs.
Pacioretty also being able to play through that injury, shows a tremendous amount of toughness and grit. Max also didn’t want to use the injury as an excuse for his lack of production, even though many players wouldn’t be able to play through the pain of that injury.
The Canadiens are fortunate to have a player of Pacioretty’s caliber, who leads by example and does his job. Some feel that Max doesn’t deserve the “C” on his sweater, but time after time, Max shows why he is the undisputed leader of the Montreal Canadiens.