For a team that has a comfortable gap in the standings, the Montreal Canadiens have been consistently inconsistent through over a third of their schedule. There have been multiple bright spots and some concerns that need to be addressed if the Canadiens hope to top their conference finals appearance from last season.
The bright spots
- The emergence and development of Alex Galchenyuk: When a player with Galchenyuk’s skill and mindset is picked so high in a draft, it’s only a matter of time before you see more than just the potential you’ve heard about. Playing in-between Gallagher and Pacioretty has finally allowed the Canadiens to form a clear cut top line with the strongest offensive players.
- The Canadiens were a below average face off team during the 2013 campaign, but now at the 35 game mark, with the additions of Manny Malhotra and emergence of Lars Eller in the dot, the Canadiens boast the leagues best face off percentage
- PK Subban. Whats not to like about him? He controls the pace of a game and his team is significantly better when he is on the ice.
- Tomas Plekanec: Being placed into a more offensive role this season, Plekanecs has thrived and put up 23 points in 35 games to go along with being a +6. Being paired with Pacioretty on the Canadiens second penalty killing unit has also been an important strength for the Canadiens
- Did you think I was going to forget the Canadiens MVP, Carey Price? Price has single handedly stolen at least 4 games and without him its difficult to see the Canadiens being a top the Atlantic Division. The argument is able to made that Price is in the running for the Hart trophy as it truly is hard to figure out where the Habs would be without him. Price has 19 wins to go along with a 2.23 G.A.A and a fantastic .926 save percentage
- The defense besides Andrei Markov, PK Subban, Tom Gilbert and Nathan Beaulieu. The bottom pair has been filled with question marks the entire season and until the Canadiens coaching staff begins increasing Beaulieu and Gilberts minutes, the Canadiens back end will continue to struggle
- Having a PP with so many weapons is great thing, but when the system in place isn’t working, change is needed. The Canadiens hold the leagues 23rd best powerplay and if they want to keep a top the Atlantic division, this statistic needs to improve
- Michel Therrien’s usage of his players. If the Canadiens want to continue being amongst the NHL’s best, Therrien needs to utilize his best players and increase their ice times
- Getting more offense throughout the lineup. The Canadiens have a ton of depth but in order to succeed the right combinations need to be formed and the whole lineup needs to contribute as that is the way the Canadiens were built
The Canadiens have had an ideal start to the season in regards to where they sit in the standings but there is still a lot of room for improvement both from the coaching staff and the players.