2011-12 Montreal Canadiens: a Team on the Bubble

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2011-12 Montreal Canadiens: a Team on the Bubble
Marianne Helm/Getty Images

The Montreal Canadiens had a good 2010-11 NHL regular season. They avoided their usual end-of-season scramble to make the playoffs and nosed out the Buffalo Sabres for the sixth seed last year.

This despite depending on youngster Carey Price to carry a disproportionate load in net and season-long injuries to core defenseman Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges. Throw in an injury-shortened season by premier sniper Mike Cammalleri and half-point-a-game seasons by the mostly healthy top six (?) forwards Scott Gomez, Andrei Kostitsyn and Brian Gionta and it's hard to understand how the Canadiens made it into the playoffs as handily as they did.

Once in the playoffs they had a game effort in the series with the eventual Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins. They won the first two games in Boston and took the Bruins to seven games. Three of the Bruin wins came in overtime including Game 7.

The Canadiens have a line up this season that looks younger, but not necessarily better, than the team from last year. They will be hard-pressed to make the playoffs this year especially with improvements in personnel that seem to have occurred within their own division. Improvements in Buffalo and Toronto and the confidence that the Bruins have gained should make it difficult for Montreal to duplicate the 14-7-3 they managed in their own division last season.

This looks to be a season where every win will count.

The Canadiens are 1-2 so far this year. They will want and need to get every point they can. Carey Price looks to keep them in most games again this season. That might be enough to ensure a fifth straight season in the playoffs.

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