Maybe the team’s attitude really has changed, because these Montreal Canadiens rarely say “die” and the stats back it up. With their latest come-from-behind, 4-3 victory over the Edmonton Oilers, the Canadiens co-lead the NHL with seven wins when trailing after two periods (Calgary Flames).
As incredible of a stat that is, it couldn’t really be made possible without the following five players who have had comebacks of their own. After disappointing 2017-18 campaigns, each of the five Habs below have rebounded to post undeniably great seasons. Here they are, ranked in order of how impressive their bounce-backs have been:
5. Shea Weber
It’s not so much that Shea Weber is having a great statistical season relative to last season. It’s more that he’s having a season at all. After being limited to 26 games in 2017-18 thanks to a foot injury (16 points) and returning in late November this season, Weber has already surpassed those totals (17 points in 29 games). He’s got as many as another 29 left to go, too. And, with the Habs 17-10 since his return, clearly Weber’s having an effect too.
4. Carey Price
Goaltender Carey Price takes the No. 4 spot ahead of Weber for a few reasons. For starters, his stats are actually significantly better than they were last season. In 2017-18, Price had the worst season of his career, going 16-26-7 with a .900 save percentage and 3.11 goals-against average. The difference has been encouraging to say the least, as in 2018-19 he’s 21-13-4 with a .915 save percentage and 2.57 GAA.
He hasn’t quite reached his .918 career average yet, but it’s probably only a matter of time. Since a game before Weber even returned, Price has been red hot with a save percentage of .929, which, forget his career average, rivals what he was posting in his peak. Needless to say, the rumors of Price’s demise have been greatly overstated. Price is far from done.
3. Jonathan Drouin
The author of the Habs’ latest victory with an overtime goal, Jonathan Drouin is on pace for a career-high 60-point season. His 46 points last season weren’t so much bad as a disappointment, considering he had scored 53 points with the Tampa Bay Lightning the season before, which was for all intents and purposes his breakout campaign. No longer.
Drouin only gets the No. 3 spot because game-to-game consistency remains an issue. He can just as easily go from making defensive miscues, showing a lackadaisical effort and going pointless over four straight games (like he did from Jan. 5-10) to scoring seven in five games, which he’s already done twice this season. At the very least, it can’t be denied he’s showing more than the sheer potential that led to his acquisition. He’s getting results.
2. Tomas Tatar
Tomas Tatar was almost an afterthought in the Pacioretty trade, but he’s actually got as many goals as the ex-Canadiens captain… and 10 more points. Granted, Pacioretty’s also played 12 fewer games, but few could have successfully predicted the season Tatar is putting together as we speak, especially when he was made a regular healthy scratch by the Las Vegas Golden Knights during the playoffs.
It’s also not like there’s a good argument they were in the wrong. Even before Knights GM George McPhee ill-advisedly traded three separate draft picks for Tatar at last season’s trade deadline, he wasn’t exactly putting up the points, with just 28 in 62 games with the Detroit Red Wings.
In spite of the meager four goals and two assists he notched with the Knights down the stretch, he still managed to secure his fourth straight 20-goal season. With 16 so far, a fifth is looking like a foregone conclusion, along with a shot to hit a new career high in points.
1. Max Domi
In contrast, it’s more so a matter of when than if Max Domi hits new career highs, himself. Leading the Canadiens in scoring with 47 points in 53 games, he’s already eclipsed his totals from last season, almost doubling the nine goals he scored with 17 so far. In fact, he’s on the verge of equaling his 18-goal total of the previous two seasons combined.
No one could have really seen this coming. Even those wearing the rosiest glasses after Domi had been acquired for Alex Galchenyuk from the Arizona Coyotes could not have foreseen the degree of success he would have, especially at effectively a new position. While Jesperi Kotkaniemi is the team’s No. 1 center of the future, there are far worse placeholders out there than the player into which Domi has transformed. He’s practically a new one altogether from last season. For the (much) better, obviously.
After 10 years of writing hockey, Ryan decided it was as good a time as any to actually join The Hockey Writers for the 2014-15 season. Having appeared as a guest on such programs as CBC Radio One’s Daybreak, Ryan has written for such publications as the Montreal Gazette and Bleacher Report and worked for the NHL itself and his hometown Montreal Canadiens. He currently covers the Habs for THW as a columnist.