Since the Habs are MIA for the playoffs this season, I (and multiple readers apparently) thought it could be interesting to take a look at how former Canadiens are doing in the chase for Lord Stanley's Cup. After featuring Lars Eller the other day, it's now time to take a look at Max Pacioretty.
The Habs first round pick in 2007 (22nd overall) took his time to become a regular with the Canadiens. After he was drafted, he went back to play for the University of Michigan's Wolverines for a further season before joining the Habs for 37 games in the same season. Not ready just yet to be a full time NHLer, Pacioretty would spend some time in the AHL in the next two season even asking himself to go down to enjoy first line minutes instead of a diminished role with the big club. That's where he started forging both a friendship and chemistry with David Desharnais which would in time lead to the miniature centre being used as the number 1 centre in Montreal much to most fans' displeasure.
Pacioretty became a regular in Montreal in the 2010-2011 season, right on time for Chara to seriously injure him in one of the scariest play I've see in hockey. Perhaps behind Malarchuk and Zednik taking a blade to the neck and Trent McCleary taking a puck to the throat.
From that moment on, Habs fans would start booing Chara every time he touched the puck in Montreal and would also take a special interest in Max Pacioretty. Some were even scared that this talented young forward's career might be in jeopardy, while others aimed to use him as motivation for a deep Cup run:
Thankfully, Pacioretty came back and became a rather important part of the Canadiens' attack, recording 4 straight seasons of 60+ points and 30+ goals. He came ever so near to a 40-goal season in 2013-2014 when he pocketed 39 and was chosen as captain by his teammates in 2015. While he was initially thrilled to have been selected, the increased spotlight it put him under just seemed too much to handle and after 3 seasons wearing the C, Bergevin decided that he wouldn't give his captain a new contract and sent him to Vegas.
In 38 playoffs games as a Hab, Pacioretty scored 10 goals and added 9 assists for 19 points and when the Habs were bounced early in 6 by the Rangers in 2016-2017, Pacioretty had only managed a single assist in the series. It's hard not to think that this was the beginning of the end for Pacioretty in Montreal...In the god-awful season that followed, the Captain appeared moody and annoyed most of the time and when the GM spoke about an attitude problem, it became crystal clear that 67 had played his last game in Montreal.
Turning over a new leaf, Pacioretty registered 40 points in 66 games with Vegas this year. He had a slow start and the injury to his line-mate and friend Paul Stastny more than likely didn't help. He eventually found his game though and has had a brilliant start to the playoffs sitting third in the league with 6 points in 3 games while his two line-mates Paul Stastny and Mark Stone are tied in first with 8 points.
It's a small sample but it sure looks like Pacioretty is better suited to playing in Vegas and being on of the stars instead of being the headliner. As I write this, the Knights are leading the Sharks 2-1 in that series but the San Jose outfit at least has a strong Twitter game:
Best of luck to Pacioretty and his teammates in their quest for the Cup. I must admit that I didn't pick them to win this series but I won't be upset if they do, they are quite an interesting team to watch.
Finally, I feel it's worth mentioning that Noah Juulsen has received the all-clear and will be back in action next season for the Tricolore. That's a very welcome update indeed since the Habs blue line can hardly afford to lose a good young d-man.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding his injury, @noahjuulsen knew all along he’d eventually get the green light to play again.