Breaking down the Montreal Canadiens ahead of NHL Trade Deadline Day.
The Montreal Canadiens will be: Spectators
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Though they’ve had some serious ups and downs, the Canadiens have managed to put themselves in a position where a post-season spot is highly likely. Montreal picked up 19 of 20 points during a hot 10-game stretch in November, then looked like a Jr. B team for a chunk of January, dropping five of six while giving up nearly five goals a game. Other than that, the Habs have pretty much been a middle-of-the-road outfit.
The non-negotiable in Montreal is top-notch goaltending from Carey Price, who is the clear backbone of the club. Without Price, this team would be in a world of hurt. One of the issues for the Canadiens has been the decreasing effectiveness of their power play. Earlier in the year, Montreal was getting good results with the man advantage, but as teams have worked to negate the big point shot from P.K. Subban, the Canadiens have struggled to find alternative ways to cash opportunities.
Scoring goals in general has been a problem for Montreal, which is one of the NHL’s weaker five-on-five teams. The result has been constant line juggling — including the defensive pairs — from coach Michel Therrien. The only consistently productive trio has been David Desharnais between Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher.
The Canadiens are notoriously small up front, which makes GM Marc Bergevin’s decision to sign Danny Briere in the off-season all the more curious. Montreal needs impact forwards with size — or in other words, exactly the type of player every team in the league would be loath to surrender.
Alex Galchenyuk, who figures to return from a broken hand at some point, has shown some brilliant offensive flashes. If the 20-year-old can even slightly boost his contributions, it will be a nice boon for the club.
The blueline could use a stabilizing force, as it tends to be hit and miss. Basically, nobody comes without some kind of asterisk. Subban is fantastic, but still prone to odd decisions. Andrei Markov is smart, but old and slow; young Nathan Beaulieu is fast, but clearly still learning the NHL game, and Alexei Emelin hasn’t been the same physical threat since returning from major knee surgery in November. Really, the Canadiens could use help everywhere except in the crease, but solutions are more likely to come via the draft and summer transactions than at the trade deadline.
Ales Hemsky, Edmonton Oilers
Matt Moulson, Buffalo Sabres
P.A. Parenteau, Colorado Avalanche