Don Cherry: Canadiens not in NHL’s top echelon yet

Don Cherry joined Prime Time Sports to talk about everything going on in the NHL and how he would fare if he began his broadcasting career today.

The Montreal Canadiens grabbed the NHL’s attention early this season with their red-hot 9-0 start to the 2015-16 campaign.

Now boasting a record of 11-2-0 going into Tuesday’s game against the Ottawa Senators, it’s clear they’re on a mission to reach the next level.

But Don Cherry isn’t sold on them quite yet.

“If you look at all the games, [Carey Price] bails them out game after game,” Cherry told Prime Time Sports’ Bob McCown Tuesday.

Cherry zeroed in on the team’s very first game versus the Toronto Maple Leafs to highlight a problem: Montreal was outshot and leaned on goaltending too much.

Of course, the Canadiens won that game, and they wouldn’t suffer their first loss of the season until nearly three weeks later when they were defeated by the Vancouver Canucks.

“They’ve got a real good club, don’t get me wrong,” said Cherry, giving a nod to team leaders P.K. Subban, Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher. “And I like the kid from Boston, [Mike] Condon, he’s doing a good job too. But they’ve got a long ways to go.”

Condon will see extra playing time due to a lower body injury keeping Price out of the crease for at least a week. The Habs backup has won all four of his starts with the club, and has a .944 save percentage on the season.

“They’ve got one great scorer in Pacioretty, but to me, you’ve got to have more than that,” said Cherry. “They’ve got a great record now, I hope they keep it up. They’re the one Canadian team — other than Vancouver, I think — that’s got a real shot at the Stanley Cup, but it’s tough to put them with the top echelon, Chicago and guys like that yet.

“It’s a long season, as they say, before that.”

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