2011-2012 Preview: Montreal Canadiens

Posted: September 15, 2011 by Dan M in Montreal Canadiens, Season Preview
Tags: , , , , ,

Last season:44-30-8, 96 points. 6th East, lost in first round to Boston (4-3).

Additions: G Peter Budaj, RW Erik Cole, RW Brian Willsie, D Jeff Woywitka

Losses: G Alex Auld, C Jeff Halpern, D Roman Hamrlik, D Alexandre Picard, LW Benoit Pouliot, C Tom Pyatt, D James Wisniewski

Offense: Tomas Plekanec scored 20 goals for his fifth straight year and remains one of the Habs’ best offensive weapons. Captain Brian Gionta continued his Montreal revival, scoring 28 goals. Mike Cammalleri only had 19 goals last year, but is only two years removed from netting 39 with Calgary. Erik Cole (26 goals with Carolina) was signed to give the Habs a physical presence on one of their top lines. Max Pacioretty only played 37 games before he was injured in a game against Boston, but had 14 goals in his limited time. As long as he’s healthy, he should continue to produce. Andrei Kostitsyn continued to be a reliable goal scorer, hitting the 20 goal mark for the third time in four years. Scott Gomez scored 7 goals, but considering he was paid over $1 million for each goal, it wasn’t enough.  Mathieu Darche could see more penalty killing time with Jeff Halpern departed.  Youngsters David Desharnais and Lars Eller will compete with each other for more playing time.

Defense: Montreal’s defense took a hit when they lost both Hamrlik and Wisniewski, but hopes to get Andrei Markov back for a full season. Markov and Josh Gorges missed a significant part of the season with knee injuries. With both of those two healthy, the blueline should not miss the former two as much. Also helping with the loss of those two is the continued development of PK Subban. Subban had a good first year, earning a spot on the NHL’s All-Rookie team. Yannick Weber is an up and comer who should have a full time role this season. 37 year old Jaroslav Spacek’s numbers have decreased vastly since signing with Montreal in 2009. The 6’7 Hal Gill is an immoveable object, which sometimes leads to him being referred to as a pylon.

Goaltending: Carey Price broke out as one of the top goalies in the league last season, after struggling the two previous seasons. Despite struggling, Montreal made him the #1 when they traded Jaroslav Halak, and Price rewarded the team, winning 38 (T-1st in the NHL) games with 8 shutouts (3rd). He also posted career highs in GAA (2.35, 10th) and save percentage (.923, 7th). Peter Budaj was signed to be Price’s backup. Budaj played solid at times with the Avalanche, but never could keep the number one job in six seasons with the club.

Standout Player: Carey Price
Price had a breakout season last year and should continue his path to stardom.  As he goes, the team will go.  He only had a 2.11 GAA in the first round last year as he almost willed the Canadiens to an upset himself.

Prediction: 3rd Northeast, 6th East
Montreal is going to be in a tight three team mix (Boston, Buffalo) but ultimately fall short. Price will be strong and the team has a solid top six, but the bottom six and defense are question marks.

  1. Dan MacNeal says:

    Of course now it’s reported that Markov had a setback. Another blow to that D

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