Many teams in the NHL have a balance of youth and older, players—which is a great thing if you know how to mix the two types up and generate the maximum result for the team.
Issues are often raised when the wrong Captain has been selected or cliques are formed in the locker-room. To avoid these situations, a Coach must be acute to this and call upon his most experienced players to squash such conflicts at the earliest possible time.
This was the case last year with Montreal. You had the non-North American player in one clan and the Quebecers in the other one. The premature departure of Ribiero was the result of the separation amongst the teammates (at least in my opinion). This was a sad time for Montreal.
Fortunately for both parties, it worked out fine. Ribiero is a much improved player, as well as a lot more mature, and Montreal is finally playing together.
Montreal is at the same point as last year before the Holiday break, with the exception that most players—if not all—are now healthy and still seem to play as a team.
Kovalev is out of this world and produces more than just goals. His linemates are learning a lot from his freestyle, creative playing ways, and others want to prove that they belong on the same team. It's a Win-Win situation.
Koivu is playing better, and maybe with a little bit of welcome fear of not being with the team by the trading deadline. His market value is at its peak, and Montreal could benefit from a blockbuster trade.
All the second and third year players are performing well. Pushed by Chipchura and Sergei Kostitsyn, Andrei's younger sibling, nobody wants to lose their job with the big team.