Season preview: Maxim Lapierre
While a few of his teammates struggled through injuries or unexpected scoring droughts in 2008-09, Lapierre’s season was more of a coming out party. The speedy center not only cemented his spot with the big club last year, playing 79 games in Montreal without any stints on the farm in Hamilton, he also carried his share of the offensive load with a career-high 28 points.
The feisty forward also discovered his scoring touch last year, posting more goals than assists during his third NHL campaign. The 6-foot-2, 207-pounder even notched his first career hat trick on December 29, carrying the Habs to a 5-2 win over the Panthers while adding a shorthanded marker to his trio of goals during the outing in the Sunshine State.
Lapierre was clutch with the game on the line in a shootout
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Last year’s Jacques Beauchamp Molson Trophy winner as the team’s unsung hero, Lapierre had his chance to lift the Habs to a shootout win on three occasions, including two perfect outings on the road. Finding the back of the net on 66% of his chances, including a highlight-reel change of speed backhander against the Sens on January 17, the 24-year-old led the Canadiens in shootout efficiency in 2008-09.
More than a one-trick pony, as good as Lapierre was on the offensive side of the puck last year, he was even better in the D zone. Capping off his impressive campaign with a plus-9 differential, the gritty center had the third best plus-minus differential on the team and was second among forwards in that category just behind Alex Tanguay.
With the stress and experience of his first full NHL season now successfully behind him, the sky is the limit when it comes to just how high Lapierre can carry the team in 2009-10.
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com
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