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Previewing the East: Montreal

Wednesday, 09.4.2013 / 6:00 AM ET / Features
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com
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Previewing the East: Montreal

DETROIT – The Red Wings are moving to the Eastern Conference next season where they will be reunited with a trio of Original Six rivals (Boston, Montreal and Toronto) in a division that also includes Buffalo, Florida, Ottawa and Tampa Bay.

Throughout the summer, DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose will take an analytical look at a different Eastern Conference team. This week it's the Montreal Canadiens:





MONTREAL CANADIENS

2013 Record: 29-14-5
Head Coach: Michel Therrien (fifth season, second straight)
Home Rink: Bell Centre
Red Wings All-Time Record vs. MON: 201-271-96-0
2013-14 Games: Jan. 24 @ DET; Feb. 26 @ MON; Mar. 27 @ DET; Apr. 5 @ MON.



Pending Unrestricted Free Agents: Centers Jeff Halpern and Petteri Nokelainen.
Pending Restricted Free Agents: None.
Free Agents Lost: Right wing Michael Ryder, defensemen Yannick Weber and Frederic St-Denis.
Free Agents Gained: Right wing Daniel Briere, center Nick Tarnasky, and defenseman Douglas Murray.

In five career starts against the Detroit, Canadiens goalie Carey Price has posted a 2-2-1 record with a 2.36 GAA. (Photo by Dave Reginek)

Not since 2007-08 have the Montreal Canadiens finished first or second in the Eastern Conference.

Though they didn’t have a single player finish among the NHL’s top 20 scorers, the Canadiens managed to tie for fourth in the league with 3.04 goals per game, and grabbed the No. 2 berth in the Eastern Conference playoffs. They had the most balanced offense in the league with eight different players registering at double-digit goals. No other team in the NHL had that many players with 10-plus goals.

However, the Canadiens struggled to keep the puck out of their own net late in the season and into the five-game playoff series against Ottawa. The Canadiens jumped out of the gate with a 20-5-5 record, allowing 2.5 goals in first two months of the season. But they really bottomed out in April, surrendered almost 3.1 goals in the final 14 games of the regular season.

In the off-season they acquired some toughness in George Parros from Florida. The 33-year-old fourth line winger, who will drop the gloves with anybody, is playing for his fifth team in eight NHL seasons. The Canadiens also signed Daniel Briere to a two-year contract after the Flyers cut ties with the Quebec native, who once amassed 95 points in a season.

Offensively, Montreal returns a solid top line that accumulated 43 goals between Max Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta. Plekanec is one of the best centermen in the league, winning nearly 51 percent of his face-offs last season, and Pacioretty is a dangerous sniper, finishing seventh in the league with 163 shots, just 10 behind the Red Wings’ Henrik Zetterberg.

The Canadiens also have a couple of rising stars in center Alex Galchenyuk and right wing Brendan Gallagher. The third overall draft pick in 2012, Galchenyuk was among six Canadiens to appear in all 48 games last season. He also led Montreal with a plus-14 rating while netting nine goals and a respectful 27 points. Meanwhile, Gallagher was a Calder Trophy finalist, who played juniors with Red Wings prospect Marek Tvrdon in Vancouver. Gallagher’s 15 goals tied him for the team lead with Pacioretty.

Clearly, if there’s a question about the Canadiens entering the upcoming season is might be with the goaltender. Veteran Carey Price finished 29th among NHL goalies with a 2.59 goals-against average, a category that he has lost traction in over the last three seasons. His .905 save percentage was worst, finishing tied for 34th in the league.

A positive on the defense is that Montreal has the luxury of returning the 2013 Norris Trophy winner in P.K. Subban, the first Montreal player to win the award as the NHL’s best defenseman since Chris Chelios won his first prize in 1989. The Canadiens need Andrei Markov to bounce back from a so-so season, and it certainly wouldn’t hurt for newcomer Douglas Murray to make an impact with his stay-at-home style.

FEEL GOOD STAT
14
– Montreal led the NHL in number of three-goal wins during the 2013 season, which equaled the Canadiens three-goal win production from the previous 82-game campaign. Six of the wins came against four different playoff-bound teams. Two of those teams – Toronto and the New York Rangers – they beat twice by three-goal margins.

TROUBLING STAT
242
– The Canadiens ranked No. 27 in the league in total penalties, including 201 minor infractions, which was third most in the NHL. Montreal averaged 13.2 minutes in penalties in ’13. Of course, the penalty kill suffered as opponents were 35-of-173 against the Canadiens’ special teams unit. … It didn’t get better in the playoffs, either, as the Canadiens collected 185 PIM in their five-game series against Ottawa.

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
P. Datsyuk 66 16 33 7 49
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80