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Posts Tagged ‘Montreal Canadiens’

2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview Bonanza

In Hockey on April 16, 2014 at 6:35 pm

5281948Oh hey there, playoff hockey. Welcome back. Please, come in. Can I take your coat? Would you like a beer or are you more of a wine fan? Excellent, now please stay forever.

That’s right, we get playoff hockey back and I’m ready to actually do some writing for you loyal readers along with the binge drinking that comes with it. But as usual, work and video games got in the way of doing detailed breakdowns so I’m cramming everything into one post. I have avoided any preview material on the internet, so no one can alter my thoughts.

This is the part where I’m supposed to insert something funny before we get going, but I got nothing. I’m tired and the games are on, so let’s get this over with.

Eastern Conference

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
The fun and loveable Blue Jackets have a chance because Marc-Andre Fleury will be in the Pittsburgh net during the playoffs and damn it, it will make for an entertaining series at the very least. But too much Sidney Crosby and not enough support for Columbus’ Sergei Bobrovsky means the Pens move on. Don’t worry, their fans will still find plenty to complain about. Penguins in six.

New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia Flyers
I have bounced back and forth on this series several times. Henrik Lundqvist vs. Steve Mason feels like it should be enough for me pick the Rangers alone, but I can’t help myself. Claude Giroux has been nuts after the team got off to a terrible start and he carries it over to the playoffs. Flyers in seven.

Boston Bruins vs. Detroit Red Wings
If any team in the East might give the Bruins a scare in the opening round, Detroit is the one that could do just that. This is great for the game because it throws the Red Wings into a series with someone that they could develop an intense rivalry with. It should be deja vu for the Bruins as far as round one goes this year, but the result will be the same. Boston is too good. Bruins in seven.

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Montreal Canadiens
Everyone is sleeping on this series but I think it will be an entertaining slugfest featuring the game’s best goal scorer and Canada’s only hope. Early advantage goes to Montreal as they boast one of the best goalies in the world while the Bolts’ MVP (Ben Bishop) is out for at least game one. That’s enough for me to take the Habs. Montreal in six.

Western Conference

Colorado Avalanche vs. Minnesota Wild
Everyone in hockey has been waiting for the Avs to come crashing back to Earth based on their unsustainable fancy stats numbers and a goalie playing out of his mind. They’ll play former division foe Minnesota who would be primed for an upset if there wasn’t a giant question mark in the net. Avalanche in six.

St. Louis Blues vs. Chicago Blackhawks
Norris Division, we have missed thee. This series won’t be a throwback to the chaos that ensued during the Black and Blue Division’s heyday, but it’s going to be a war. St. Louis had the President’s Trophy in their sights before crapping the bed late in the year, giving us the matchup we all wanted one round early. St. Louis has been bad in every aspect of the game as of late and they’re going to need to get up for the Hawks before it’s too late. Chicago is too deep and the Blues have too many questions in net and on offense. Blackhawks in six.
Ed. Note: It was REALLY difficult to not rip on the Blues during that. Don’t worry, I’ll do plenty of that on Twitter.

Anaheim Ducks vs. Dallas Stars
Fire wagon hockey will be present in every single game of this series as both teams love to get up and down the ice. Dallas has been a blast to watch and they have the edge in net with Kari Lehtonen over, well, whoever the hell the Ducks decide to play in net. Both teams have a superstar duo and plenty of secondary scoring. But the Ducks have Cam Fowler. That’s enough for me to make my pick. Stars in six. #CamSucks

Want to read an actual preview of the series? Check out our buddy Pierre Canard’s in-depth preview.

San Jose Sharks vs. Los Angeles Kings
My preview for this series is that I drink a lot and wind up in the fetal position because Antti Niemi can’t keep the puck out of the net. Yeah, I’m not going into much detail. Let’s just say I’m not optimistic and I don’t wanna talk about it and JUST LEAVE ME ALONE. Shit. Kings in six.

That’s it. If you want something more in-depth, I’m sure you can find about 5,283 articles on each series. Want more of an in-depth answer from me on the series in the West? Follow me on Twitter and I’ll be sure to answer. Also, follow along for the retweets, especially if you don’t like the Blues.

Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview: #2 Montreal Canadiens vs. #7 Ottawa Senators

In Hockey on April 28, 2013 at 11:53 pm

In a series that features two of the league’s feel-good stories of the year, there’s a guarantee that at least one Canadian market will go to the second round of the playoffs! So congratulations, Canada. Enjoy it while it lasts, because it probably won’t last past the conference semis.

After one of the worst years in franchise history, Montreal backed into the 2-seed because of Boston’s inability to close a division they probably should have ran away with. Youth has paved the way for the Habs this year with P.K. Subban elevating his game to a Norris Trophy caliber level and rookies Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk giving the team a much needed shot in the arm. And although he hasn’t been anywhere close to great over the last month, Carey Price is still one of the league’s top goalies. He’ll have a chance to hit the reset button in preparation for the Sens, and could take the next step toward being the next great Habs goaltender. One guy that has been phenomenal now that he’s healthy is Andrei Markov, who has stabilized the back end and re-claimed his spot as one of the league’s top power play QBs.

I have absolutely no idea how the Senators are in the playoffs. They’ve dealt with injuries to all three members of their top line, lost their top two young defensemen for a considerable amount of time, and they lost Craig Anderson who was poised to make a charge at the Vezina. Paul McLean has kept this team together with gum, duct tape and bailing wire, and this Sens playoff run is even more incredible than their berth last year. In order to advance, all of those players that gained valuable experience during the season to will have to keep up their stellar level of play.

Montreal will win if:
Carey Price re-gains his early season form. Goaltending is always the focal point during the playoffs, and Montreal has the edge in net on paper. Like I said earlier though, Price hasn’t been good as of late. His lone great playoff series came in 2011 when he was very good in a first round loss to the Bruins. This year is as good of a time as any for Price to firmly put himself in the top tier of NHL netminders.

Ottawa will win if:
They win the physical battle. It is no secret that the knock on Montreal over the years is a lack of team toughness. The Habs upgraded in that department with the addition of Brandon Prust, but I feel that they’re still lacking a touch in the physical department. Ottawa can get up and down the ice with the Habs, and that will help when it comes to wearing Montreal down.

Prediction:
There’s no way in hell Carey Price keeps playing as bad as he has over the last month. Throw in the major home ice advantage the Habs will have, which is a sizable one. Expect plenty of scoring in this series, but I see Price stealing a couple games in this one to send the Sens to the golf course. Canadiens in 6.

Although I threw this together in a short period of time, I am Ryan Thomas, and I approve this post. Follow me on Twitter @rthomas_22 and yell at me not watching enough East Coast hockey. Make sure you tag all insults with #LeftCoastBias

2011-12 NHL Season Preview: Montreal Canadiens

In Hockey on August 31, 2011 at 10:30 am

A Look Back at 2010-11
There was magic back in Montreal after the Habs made a surprise trip to the Eastern Conference finals in 2010. Expectations were high for the whole team, but for no one more than Carey Price. After the trade of Jaroslav Halak to St. Louis, Price assumed control of the team and was absolutely spectacular. The Canadiens were a small group that looked to beat you with skill over power, and had the eventual champs on the ropes after two games in Boston. They then lost four of five games to Boston, including two games in double OT. Since no one knew how Price would fare as the full-time starter, Habs fans had to be pleased with how the team finished. They did struggle to score goals at times, and it hurt them in the end against Boston. Grade: B- (Carey Price had a lot to do with ranking them this high.)

A Look Ahead to 2011-12

Erik Cole brings some physicality to the Montreal group of forwards

Forwards
Once again, the forward for this Montreal unit will be small (no one stands taller than 6’2) but fast and skilled. They have a very good top center in Tomas Plekanec, who led the team in points last year and has five straight seasons of 20+ goals. Scott Gomez needs to be better for the Habs. He has been absolutely dreadful since the Rangers signed him to a contract, and was at his worst last year scoring only 38 points. If Montreal wants to go back to the playoffs, he has to be better. There remains some decent firepower on the wings, but the one guy that can’t have another slow season in Mike Cammalleri. Cammy was a playoff hero back in 2010, but his goal total fell to only 19 last year. He was signed to score, but he could also benefit from a healthy season. Team captain Brian Gionta will occupy the top spot on the right side for Montreal, and he works well with Plekanec on the top line. The Habs added Erik Cole from Carolina as a way to add some physicality to combat the beating they took from Boston throughout last year. Andrei Kostitsyn, Lars Eller and Max Pacioretty make up a third line that should be able to absolutely fly around the ice. They also add a dangerous option on that third line because they could see the opposition’s bottom defensive pair. Mathieu Darche, Travis Moen, Michael Blunden, David Desharnais and Ryan White round out the forwards. This team needs size and physicality in a big way up front and it’s not coming from the minors. Grade: C+ (The lack of bigger forwards is alarming. A team like Boston could throw them around with ease.)

Andrei Markov needs to stay healthy for the Canadiens to make a playoff push.

Defense
The lack of size on offense is made up for on defense. All but one of the team’s current defensemen stands 6’0, with Hal Gill being the biggest at 6’7. This unit can put up the points, provided Andrei Markov stays healthy for a full year. When he is healthy, Markov is one of the best defenseman in the game. That hasn’t been the case for a while, and for the Habs to be a player this year, they need him healthy again. Fortunately for Montreal, the offensive slack was picked up by P.K. Subban last season. Subban was great once he put everything together in the second half of the year, gaining a reputation for himself in the process as someone who plays with a lot of cockiness. That doesn’t matter since he does produce on defense and log some important minutes. He’s a keeper. Also, unlike the forwards, the Habs’ defense has two guys that will throw the body and play a physical game in Gill and Josh Gorges. The Habs lost Gorges for the playoffs last year, and it hurt them in the end. Jaroslav Spacek is another veteran presence for the Habs to send out each game, and he can still contribute offensively. Yannick Weber is the only other defenseman under contract that has played in the NHL. Not a bad unit, but they could definitely use some depth and more physicality. Especially if Markov gets hurt again. Grade: B-

Carey Price met his lofty expectations last year.

Goaltending
For all the uncertainty the rest of the team has, in goal isn’t one of them. Carey Price was an absolute beast last year for the Habs and was event in consideration for the Vezina Trophy at one point. Despite all of his brilliance, Price was forced to play in 72 games because his team needed him every night. That can wear a goalie out. However, Price was also brilliant against Boston, he just got no help from his offense. As good as he is, he’s going to have to steal games for the Habs once again. Filling his role of backup is Peter Budaj, who comes over after five years in Colorado. Budaj won’t play much, but has shown that he can handle a heavy workload if need be.  All is good in the Montreal nets right now. Grade: A- (If Price gets hurt, they will be in a lot of trouble.)

Prediction
The East is getting bigger by the year, and the Habs aren’t. There are too many injury-prone skaters, not much depth, little to no physicality and streaky scoring for me to buy stock in the Canadiens this year. Unless Carey Price suddenly becomes Patrick Roy, they won’t make the playoffs this year. 4th in Northeast, 9th in East.