Perspective is often difficult to find in the vast and endless rollercoaster of emotions amplified by sports radio and social media these days. But, with the close of this decade, it’s the perfect time to look back and celebrate the collective and individual performances of the Montreal Canadiens.
So put your feet up and enjoy a look at the past decade of the Canadiens through a statistical lens.
Canadiens Were the Best Canadian Team of the Decade
It was not a banner decade for Canadian NHL franchises when it comes to the ultimate outcome – wins. Since the 2009-10 season, the average Canadian-based team was better than the average American-based team in only the 2016-17 season when the average Canadian franchise earned 92.71 points in the standings compared to 91.30 for the American-based team. In all other seasons of the decade, American teams averaged-out to be better than their Canadian counterparts. Whether Canadian NHL franchises suffer from unfair competitive ecosystem or not (a topic for another day), the results can help put the Canadiens’ performance in perspective.
During a decade when Canadian teams suffered greatly, the Canadiens, by comparison, performed admirably. With 415 regular-season wins, the Canadiens had more wins than any other Canadian team and rank 12th in the entire NHL.
Season by season during the past decade, the Canadiens were up and down but generally outperformed their Canadian counterparts. In those 10 seasons, the Canadiens failed to outperform the average Canadian NHL franchise only twice in the 2011-12 and 2017-18 seasons. The Canadiens were the top Canadian team three of the 10-seasons during the decade.
How about playoff performance? The Canadiens are the top Canadian team here too. They ranked 12th overall in the NHL for playoff wins with 31, more than any other Canadian franchise this decade. The Hockey’s Happiness Index, a play on alternative economic models, combines regular season and playoff performance in an attempt to illustrate success over the past decade. It does a good job of showing that although the Canadiens are fairly average league-wide, they are the best of the Canadian teams.
Radulov, Vanek, Wisniewski & Cammalleri Made Big Impacts in a Short Time
If the mention of these names brings a smile to your face, it’s for good reason. Alexander Radulov, Thomas Vanek, James Wisniewski and Michael Cammalleri represent four of the top eight Canadiens’ players in points per game during the decade. Wisniewski has the distinction of being the top Canadiens’ defenseman in this category.
Radulov and Cammalleri not only performed well in the regular season, they dominated in the playoffs. Cammalleri had an impressive 1.12 points per game in 26 playoff games, which is a rate second only to Radulov who had a 1.17 points per game, albeit in only six playoff games. Cammalleri’s points per playoff game is very impressive considering the next forward, Scott Gomez, is way down at 0.69 points per playoff game; the impressive gap between players is illustrated nicely in the graphic below.
The graphic above, showing playoff points per game, also highlights another former fan favourite prominently; P.K. Subban ranks as the defenseman with the highest points per game in the playoffs at 0.69 in 55 playoff games.
Current Canadiens Weber, Domi & Tatar Shine Bright
Among Canadiens players that have played a minimum of 100 games, Domi and Tomas Tatar have the highest points per game rate at 0.83 and 0.78 respectively. Former Canadiens’ captain Max Pacioretty ranks third with 0.74 points per game in 592 games played.
At 0.61 points per game, Shea Weber ranks second among Canadiens’ defensemen behind P.K. Subban (0.64) and ahead of Andrei Markov (0.58). With this kind of high-end impact, there’s no doubt that Domi, Tatar and Weber will continue to be important players for the Canadiens heading into the new decade.
Gallagher, Subban & Suzuki are Canadiens’ Best Rookies of the Decade
Purely by the numbers, Brendan Gallagher, Subban and Nick Suzuki have posted the best points per game in their first seasons among all Canadiens’ rookies in the past 10 seasons. Subban’s 0.51 points per game is by far the best by a rookie defenseman, and Suzuki’s 0.59 points per game (and counting) is very close to Gallagher’s team-best at 0.64.
On the power play, Subban made the biggest impact as a rookie, registering 19 points on the man advantage in his rookie season. No other player is close, however Suzuki has more than half a season to add to his seven power-play points, putting some perceptive on the excitement surrounding the young Canadiens’ rookie.
Carey Price Defines a Decade in the Canadiens’ Crease
If you are a young Canadiens’ fan, you know nothing other than Carey Price stopping pucks for your team. He played 563 regular-season games for the Canadiens during the seasons in this decade. The next goalie? Mike Condon, with 55 games played.
Price’s name doesn’t just resonate with Canadiens’ fans, he is arguably the face of NHL goaltending for decade. Despite an up and down season so far for the Canadiens’ franchise goaltender, since the start of the 2009-10 season, only Henrik Lundqvist has made more saves than Price (15,301 saves).
All statistics in this article are from NHL.com from the start of the 2009-10 season to Dec. 30 2019.