We all know how good Carey is and he’s deservedly getting most of the credit for the Canadiens current standing at the top of the NHL. But he’s not doing it (completely) alone.
So we asked our panelists which Hab they feel is the most underrated when it comes to the fans valuing their contribution to the team’s success so far this season.
Kyle (@kyleroussel) – My pick isn’t exactly an under-the-radar guy, but I’m going to say Gallagher. Good numbers (both basic and fancy ones), plays in a lot of different situations, and is generally the straw that stirs the drink on whatever line he plays.
John (@) – With 42 points and a plus 20 rating, Andrei Markov has put together a Norris calibre season. Combined with PK Subban, Markov helps to steady the team’s top defence pairing, a unit as good as any in the league. Over and above the points and TOI, Markov can be counted upon for leading roles on the PK, PP and @ 5×5 on the ice, while his veteran leadership has helped with the integration of young defencemen into the lineup. Under Markov’s watch this season, the Habs have transitioned from one of the oldest lineups in the league last year, to one of the youngest in the NHL this season.This transformation has seen the average age drop more than 5 years per player, reaching a low of 24.45 (average years of age) during a game against the Ottawa Senators last month. When you undergo such drastic changes, it is essential that a steadying presence provides guidance, leadership and poise in a pressurized environment.
Let me state, publicly, that I was opposed to extending The General for three more years, but I have been proven wrong. The way he’s been playing lends evidence to the old saying, “things do get better with age.”
Zach (@ZachVanasse) – I had planned to argue that Tomas Plekanec was the most underrated Hab. It was an argument I made on The Two-Four this past week, but I was wrong. Reading what John wrote I can’t help but say I’ve been swayed. Much like John, I questioned the logic behind bringing Markov back for three more years when it happened. I doubted that Markov could be the Markov of old on a pair of reconstructed knees. I too was wrong.
The truth is, he hasn’t really lost a step and continues to be the same old reliable player he has been for most of his career. When all is said and done he’ll likely put up one of the better blue-line careers in Canadiens history. Not one of the best, but one of the better. He’s played 14 seasons (sort of) for the Canadiens now, with more to come I assume. He currently sits in the all time top 10 for points, goals and assists amongst Habs defencemen. While I don’t think he is having a Norris calibre season, his 42 points at 36 years old while playing on a team with an anemic power play are impressive.
I think the fact that he didn’t occur to me before Pleks proves that he is the most underrated player (or at least the player I underrate the most) on the team.