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Before our readers turned their attention away from the Canadiens for the summer, Habsworld conducted one last poll for the season to determine Montreal's 3 Stars for the 2011-2012 season. Though there weren't many positive things to take away from the season, HW's readers managed to find some reasons for optimism and voted accordingly. Without any further ado, here are the HW 3 Stars for the year, as chosen by you:
1 - Erik Cole (82 GP - 35 G - 26 A - 61 P - +11 Rating)
When Erik Cole recorded a solitary assist in his first 7 games as a Montreal Canadien, many fans were left wondering if Pierre Gauthier's prized off-season acquisition would end up being a bust. After all, Cole's performance had suffered in the past when separated from Eric Staal, and without any powerplay time, it seemed that the power forward would have difficulties justifying his $4.5M salary. Fortunately, a gutsy reporter saw fit to openly criticize Jacques Martin's powerplay usage of Cole, and when he found himself playing with the man-advantage and with linemates, David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty, his season took flight. Playing in all 82 games (a rarity in his career), Cole set a career high in goals (35) and matched his career high in points (61), which was made all that more impressive on a low-scoring squad such as the Canadiens. The veteran forward's performance, no doubt, sparked the breakout seasons of his young linemates, and his +11 rating was the highest of all Montreal forwards. Even when the playoffs were out of reach, Cole never took a shift off, and his relentless drive to the net was a sight Montreal fans had long been missing for many years. A leader off and on the ice, Erik Cole is the well-deserving recipient of the Habsworld #1 star.
58% of 1st Star votes, 19% of 2nd Star votes, 8% of 3rd Star Votes
2 - Max Pacioretty (79 GP - 33 G - 32 A - 65 P - +2 Rating)
When Max Pacioretty had his neck broken by a reckless play by Zdeno Chara, there were more than a few Montreal fans that feared that he would never play another NHL game. To the surprise of everyone save perhaps Max, he used the opportunity to recuperate, pack on some muscle, and face the new year with a renewed determination. Publically forgiving Chara, and putting the incident behind him, "Patches" broke out to lead the Canadiens in points, despite serving a 3-game suspension. In addition to being nominated for the Bill Masterton trophy, Pacioretty's 65 points (tied with Alex Ovechkin) were good for 38th in the league, and a 41-point improvement over last season's totals. Furthermore, his 286 shots led the Canadiens while finishing tied for 10th overall in the league in this category. Only 23, it is shocking that Max may very well still have a lot of room to grow, and improve on his impressive totals from a low-scoring team. A role model off the ice as well, Max created his own foundation to help the MGH raise funds for a FMRI machine for their Traumatic Brain Injury Centre to help those who have suffered similar injuries to his own.
18% of 1st Star votes, 40% of 2nd Star votes, 21% of 3rd Star votes
3 - Carey Price (65 GP - 26 W - 28 L - 11 OTL - 2.43 GAA - 0.916 SV% - 4 SO)
Carey Price isn't likely to be mistaken for a Vezina trophy candidate this year, nor will he be considered for the Hart Memorial trophy. After all, Price's numbers were average for him, and he ranked in the bottom half of the NHL in most goaltending categories except for games played. Nevertheless, anyone watching Price play this season should be able to recognize what great significance he is to the team, and how his absence would have likely made the Canadiens finish lower than the Columbus Blue Jackets in the standings. Sidelined by a concussion near the end of the season, Price still managed to play in a ridiculous amount of games (only 9 goalies played more) as he tried his best to keep Montreal in the playoff hunt. More impressive, Price gave the Canadiens a legitimate chance to win most of those games, and was very seldom the clear reason for a loss. Many criticized Price's performance in shootouts this year, but with the lack of goal support in most of those instances, Price would have had to have been perfect. Though it had little to no impact on the actual season, Price's performance at the All-Star weekend was a bright spot at the rather ho-hum skills competition, and his personable demeanour quickly made him a fan-favourite, even with non Habs fans. Although the year may not have gone as planned, Carey did manage to record his 100th career win, and one can only hope that the next 100 wins are achieved sooner rather than later.
19% of 1st Star votes, 11% of 2nd Star votes, 22% of 3rd Star votes.
Thanks to all that voted, and enjoy your off-season!