The Montreal Canadiens celebrate a preseason win.
As the defending Northeast Division champions, expectations are high in Montreal. The Habs are expected to compete in the new Atlantic Division and improve on last year's first-round playoff exit.
Here is the complete 2013-14 season preview for the Montreal Canadiens.
Daniel Briere was Montreal's top offseason signing.
- Daniel Briere
- George Parros
- Douglas Murray
Daniel Briere was general manager Marc Bergevin's key acquisition in the summer of 2013, signing for two years and $8 million. The 35-year-old will slide right on to Montreal's top line with David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty. He'll look to rebound from a career-worst 2012-13 lockout season.
Bergevin obviously wanted to become a tougher team, and trading for enforcer George Parros was one way of doing so. The 6'5", 228-pound fighter has 149 regular-season fights to his name, according to HockeyFights.com, and should provide much-needed physicality to a small Canadiens lineup.
Murray was a late offseason signing and will provide veteran defensive depth.
- Michael Ryder
David Desharnais will open the season centering Montreal's top line.
The Montreal Canadiens will open the season relatively healthy, with only two injuries on defense. If the final practices of training camp were any indication, here's what the lines should look like against Toronto on October 1, via Stu Cowan at Hockey Inside/Out.
|Max Pacioretty||David Desharnais||Daniel Briere|
|Rene Bourque||Tomas Plekanec||Brian Gionta|
|Alex Galchenyuk||Lars Eller||Brendan Gallagher|
|Travis Moen||Brandon Prust||George Parros|
Extra forwards on the 23-man roster:
- Micheal Bournival
- Ryan White
|P.K. Subban||Josh Gorges|
|Andrei Markov||Raphael Diaz|
|Francis Bouillon||Jarred Tinordi|
Extra defensemen on the 23-man roster:
- Davis Drewiske (shoulder injury)
- Alexei Emelin (recovering from knee surgery)
- Douglas Murray
Carey Price is Montreal's X-factor this season.
Carey Price is coming off a subpar 2013 season. His 2.59 goals-against average and career-worst .905 save percentage just weren't good enough.
The Canadiens were able to win the Northeast Division despite his struggles. Don't expect that to happen again, however.
His ability to bounce back and put up the kind of numbers he's capable of will directly correlate with Montreal's team success.
There's no questioning the talent is there. The 26-year-old is already a three-time NHL All-Star and has the ability to sport a 2.35 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage (like he did in 2010-11).
If Price can indeed put up those kinds of numbers in 2013-14, Canadiens fans could be in for a treat.
Alex Galchenyuk celebrates a goal.
As far as the regular season goes, winning the Northeast and finishing second in the Eastern Conference was just about the best scenario Montreal fans could have hoped for last season.
But then the playoffs happened, and the worst-case scenario became a reality after just five games.
For 2013-14, the best-case scenario is obviously winning the Atlantic Division, finishing first in the Eastern Conference and making a deep playoff run.
Last year's squad proved that they can succeed. They'll aim to prove it was no fluke in 2013-14.
In a hockey-mad city like Montreal, the worst-case scenario is the same each and every year: not making the playoffs.
Montreal is a city that thrives in the spring while the Canadiens play postseason hockey. The entire city suffers from depression when they don't.
After last year's success, Montreal's sights have to be set on winning the conference. If they don't, however, winning a couple of playoff rounds will surely make up for it.
The Montreal Canadiens have a tough road ahead of them under the new NHL alignment. The Atlantic Division features some tough opponents.
The defending Eastern Conference champion Boston Bruins are always a tough test, while the up-and-coming Ottawa Senators will look to build off of their playoff upset over Montreal last season. The pesky Toronto Maple Leafs also tend to give the Canadiens fits.
The Atlantic Division will also welcome the Detroit Red Wings. All they've done is made the playoffs for 22 consecutive years.
While an Atlantic Division championship would be the best-case scenario, it might not be the most realistic.
The Canadiens will be competitive in 2013-14. They should finish second in the Atlantic Division and fourth in the conference. They'll then win the opening round of the playoffs in six or seven games before bowing out graciously in the second.