Montreal Canadiens: Hopes Too High?
Cinderella story this season?
Don't count on it.
Many may think the storied Montreal Canadiens have finally turned the corner are back into the Stanley Cup hunt for the first time in 15 years. But let's not get hopes up too high in this high-on-hockey centre.
Look where it got them in the 2008 Eastern Conference semis.
To be a player or coach of the Montreal Canadiens is one thing, but to play like the teams of Lafluer, Richard, and Dryden is something completely different. To do what those players did multiple times only once is not as easy as just snapping your fingers and predicting a championship year.
I'll give Habs some credit, they've got one of the most potent, young lineups in the NHL this season and foreseeably for the next few seasons. Along with two young netminders who have proven they belong with the big club and you've got your recipe for success.
But that one word - youth - will it be the achilles heal of the Canadiens?
Besides Alex Kovalev, Mathieu Dandenault, Patrice Briesbois, and Alex Tanguay the only members of the Canadiens ever to lift the Stanley Cup and veterans Robert Lang and Georges Laraque, who have made trips to the third and fourth rounds in their career, the Canadiens have inexperienced playoff performers, many who got their first taste of the bittersweet game known as the second season.
Saku Koivu has not even made it past the second round in his 12 seasons in Montreal, yet has 45 points in 50 career playoff games. Looking at Chris Higgins, Andrei Kostitsyn, his brother Sergei, Tomas Plekanec, Guillame Latendresse, Tom Kostopolous, and Steve Begin, not to mention the majority of their blueline besides Andrei Markov and Brisebois and the Canadiens don't have any players with more than 30 games of playoff experience.
Or maybe this will be a learning season for the Canadiens inexperienced.
Last season's second round playoff exit was a tough lesson to swallow, especially for the younger players. But with every disappointment comes growth, maturity, and a second chance.
And with maturity and growth, only one thing can happen - the younger will keep getting better and the veterans will only keep on leading.
With the more varied veterans in the dressing room this season with Tanguay and Lang, the younger will be learning from some of the best in the game. Now Tanguay and Lang are no Mats Sundin or Marian Gaborik or Brian Campbell, but they don't need to be.
Bob Gainey's got his team. His coach. And the rest will follow...
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