The Montreal Canadiens are the next team up in our previews. They got smoked by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup Final, but reached it for the first time since they last won in 1993. That was also the last a team up north won the cup. The Montreal Canadiens have a foundation in place. But, with the divisions returning to normal, the path will not be easy. Can the Montreal momentum be sustained? Let’s break it all down.
According to Daily Faceoff, here are the current lines for the Habs:
First line – Tyler Toffoli, Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield
Second line – Jonathan Drouin, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Brendan Gallagher
Third line – Mike Hoffman, Jake Evans, Josh Anderson
Fourth line – Artturi Lehkonen, Cedric Paquette, Joel Armia
That first line is good. It really paid dividends to bring Caufield up and pair him with Suzuki and Toffoli. Kotkaniemi did well in the playoffs. However, can that second line take the pressure off the top line? The addition of Hoffman makes sense. He still has a rocket of a shot. On one hand, it may be worth trying him out on the second line at some point just to see what happens. At the same token, bottom six scoring can be hard to come by sometimes and Hoffman is getting older. The fourth line right now is probably not in the upper class of shut down lines, but Lehkonen and Armia play hard. Corey Perry is heading to Tampa so Paquette will be a new addition.
Montreal has a huge problem here. There is a lot of age, which means lack of speed. Here are the pairings and goalies also according to Daily Faceoff.
Joel Edmundson and Jeff Petry
Alexander Romanov and David Savard
Ben Chiarot and Chris Wideman
Goalies: Carey Price and Jake Allen
Romanov is the only young defensemen at age 21. Everyone else is in their late 20s or in their 30s. Savard coming over from Tampa doesn’t make a lot of sense. Shea Weber is out for the season and he may be done playing entirely. Older defense cores are at risk of getting blown right by.
Back to the regular divisions for this new campaign means the likes of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, Brayden Point, and Nikita Kucherov are coming for them. We all know how great Carey Price is, but he is no spring chicken. He needs some help back there. You can’t help but think that maybe Price missed out on his best chance of winning the cup. Overall, the Habs aren’t in horrible shape. But, a lot will have to go in their favor to make it back to the playoffs in what will be a very tough Atlantic Division.
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