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MHH Previews the Lesser 29: Montreal

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Welcome to a new installment where we will preview each of the other NHL teams who simply make up the bulk of the league the Avalanche play in. Today, we preview the Montreal Canadiens.

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Their head coach: Michael Therrien. I’m still shocked the Canadiens didn’t fire him after how much of a debacle last season became. More on that and his future below. The man himself has been leading the Habs since the start of the 12-13 season. In that time, the Canadiens have gone 1st round, East Finals, 2nd round, miss the playoffs. Not awful, but he’s the coach in Montreal, so since he hasn’t won 4 Stanley Cups, he’s done a lousy job.


Their captain: Max Pacioretty. I always chuckle at how the captain of the Canadiens is an American. I might be the only one, but I just always find that funny. Like, he’s not even Canadian, but he’s leading the Canadiens. Folks! I’ll be here all night. Anyways, the former Michigan Wolverine superstar has spent his entire NHL career in Quebec and blossomed into quite the player. 30 goals every season is the norm for Maxwell. Zdeno Chara nearly ended his career by running him into a stanchion five years ago, but that’s just the Bruins being the dirty team they are. Luckily, Pacioretty has fully recovered and become one of the league’s most solid players.


Their 15-16 season: They started the season 8-0, running the table and having a seemingly perfect beginning. Things stayed at a good pace by playing the month of November in 8-2-3, and then everything went straight to the deepest depths of hockey hell. 20-34-3 to finish the season, Carey Price got hurt, everyone got mad at one another, P.K Subban got criticized… It was something to behold. My words don’t do it justice.


How did they do against the Avs? Very bad! The Avs straight up stomped the puck out of them in the Bell Centre in November. Colorado took that contest 6-1. That was when the Canadiens were good too! When they fell off the map and visited Colorado in the spring, Mikhail Grigorenko maybe made the play that sent PK Subban to Nashvillel when the Avs beat them 3-2 on the heels of Grigs forcing a turnover and setting up the game-winning goal on the resulting break.


When do they play the Avs this season? At Montreal on December 10th and in Denver on February 7th.


Will they be good? I need to know Carey Price’s health to answer this question. If he’s healthy all season, this is a playoff team. If he isn’t, this team may pick 1st in the 2017 draft.


3 Questions with their SB Nation blog, Eyes On The Prize:


-A couple months removed now, what are your thoughts on the Weber-Subban trade, and do you like the move or not? Well, most Habs fans absolutely loathe the move, I'm certainly no different, and published a pretty scathing indictment of it. It makes the team older, slower on the back end, and even if it pays immediate dividends, it stands to hurt in the long run.


That being said, we've reached the point of acceptance, as there really is no use crying over spilled milk. I think most of us are over it for the time being, and willing to wait and see exactly what Weber brings to the team.



-Carey Price is obviously this team’s most valuable player, so what’s the Canadiens’ ceiling and floor if Price is healthy all season? On the other hand, what’s the floor and ceiling if he misses more than half the season again? With a healthy Carey Price for 82 games and beyond, the sky is the limit. They could win their division, possibly the conference, and could go for a healthy run in the playoffs. Price is such a factor for them that the floor is probably still the playoffs, even if he's not at the absolute top of his game. If they had him for 82 games last year, they'd likely have made it in.


If the injuries happen again, it's really hard to say. It would depend on the relief goaltending, which was not good last year. I think with Al Montoya and one of Charlie Lindgren and Mike Condon they can get to the playoffs as a wild card team, but the floor is probably lottery territory. Simply put, it's not something any Habs fan wants to go through again.



-What does Michael Therrien need to do this season to keep his job? Pretty simple, he needs to make the playoffs for sure, and probably even win at least a round. Missing the playoffs twice in a row is a big issue in Montreal, so I can't see how he'd survive that. Marc Bergevin appears to have tied their fates together as well, so if they don't get in, it could be a whole new team running the show moving forward.


Then again, if Carey Price goes down again, management might just hide behind that like they did last year, and we'll be right back where we are now in 2017-18.


Thanks to Matt Drake for taking the time to answer!