Canadians have more than a few reasons to be thankful on this Thanksgiving Day, but fans of the Montreal Canadiens have at least a few more thanks to the tremendous play of Tomas Plekanec and the three straight road wins the Habs took with them to kick off the new season.
The Canadiens centre had four goals and an assist through the first week of NHL action this season and was subsequently named the Player of the Week for his efforts, topping out one Sidney Crosby. The Pittsburgh Penguins captain had three goals and three helpers as his club had a pair of wins to open the season.
But it was Plekanec who took the crown, notching two goals on Wednesday when the Canadiens took down the Toronto Maple Leafs and adding another against the Washington Capitals on Thursday. By Saturday, he popped in another goal and added the assist as his Habs faced off against the Philadelphia Flyers and took the shootout victory.
Plekanec is one of many gifted centres the Montreal Canadiens have to show for themselves this season. It’s almost an embarrassment of riches, with David Desharnais, Lars Eller and Manny Malhotra adding to the depth. There’s also Alex Galchenyuk to consider, who has been slipped to the wing spot despite being a natural centre. Someone will likely be moved to accommodate him, but that’s another story for another day.
Right now, it’s Plekanec’s day. Malhotra’s presence and ability in the faceoff circle has taken some of the responsibility away from Plekanec, which in turn opens him up to a more offensively-focused role. That’s why you’re more likely to see Plekanec streaming in on the breakaway, which is exactly what happened when he scored a pretty one against Jonathan Bernier.
Plekanec has been playing with Galchenyuk, too, and that spells opportunity. This upgrade in linemates has been a long time coming for the Czech centre, who has often struggled to find a consistent set of teammates to vibe with.
So yes, Plekanec can have a solid year – to say the least. Some of the previous burdens are off his shoulders and he should be primed to open up offensively, benefitting from a set of quality linemates and some open ice. This could be his year and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Plekanec picking up more Player of the Week honours as this plays out.