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It’s Montreal Canadiens day on PHT

Aug 7, 2013, 9:03 AM EDT

pksubbangetty Getty Images

Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team?  The Montreal Canadiens.

After the Montreal Canadiens finished 2011-12 with a disastrous 78 points, they shook up their front office by bringing in Marc Bergevin to serve as the new general manager. Bergevin in turn hired former Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Michel Therrien to once again serve as the team’s bench boss.

Bergevin and Therrien’s first season saw the Canadiens improve by leaps and bounds for a number of different reasons. For one thing, top-tier offensive defenseman Andrei Markov enjoyed his first healthy campaign in years and P.K. Subban took another step forward en route to winning the Norris Trophy. The duo played a prominent role in Montreal going from one of the worst power-play teams in 2011-12 to the fifth best last season.

Montreal was also led by a youth movement, including rookie forwards Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk. In fact, four of the team’s top six scorers and five of their top eight are 24 years old or younger.

With their improved offense, Montreal managed to capture the Northeast Division title, but they imploded against the Ottawa Senators in the first round. Goaltender Carey Price struggled towards the end of the season and that carried over into the playoffs.

After dropping three of Montreal’s first four games against Ottawa, Price was held out of Game 5 due to a knee injury. Backup Peter Budaj proved to be equally ineffective against the Senators and thus the Canadiens’ postseason run ended with a 6-1 defeat.

Offseason recap

The Canadiens have plenty of young players in their core and they’re on an upward trajectory, so Bergevin wasn’t inclined to make major changes this summer. That being said, they did make one big splash by signing Danny Briere to a two-year, $8 million contract after his previous deal was bought out by the Philadelphia Flyers.

At the same time, they watched 2013 midseason acquisition Michael Ryder walk as an unrestricted free agent. He ended up signing a two-year, $7 million deal with the New Jersey Devils.

Montreal claimed forward Michael McCarron with the 25th overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.

Related:

Introducing: PHT’s ‘Team of the Day’ summer series

  1. stepanup - Aug 7, 2013 at 11:09 AM

    Pageau!…Pageau-Pageau-Pageau!…Pageau!….Pageau!

    One of the best memories from the playoffs was that 6-1 drubbing while the Habs humiliated themselves. Complete embarassment.

    • cweez2 - Aug 7, 2013 at 8:18 PM

      Speaking of embarrassment, how did it feel to get the middle finger from your captain?

  2. kaptaanamerica - Aug 7, 2013 at 11:37 AM

    The Habs will challenge for first in the division, along with Bruins Wings and Sens. They’ve got a good team and are addressing the size issue through the draft and maybe by trade at the deadline.I hope Rene Bourque has a solid season.

  3. 19to77 - Aug 7, 2013 at 11:51 AM

    I don’t get why Briere was worth four million a season to them, but Ryder wasn’t worth three and a half. Ryder’s a more productive scorer and they have three top-six centres already. And that’s if Eller doesn’t keep improving. He might max off as a #2C himself based on what he did last year. Briere adds depth at a position they’re deep at, is undersized and not physically dominant, and has been steadily falling in point production for several years. I feel like they signed him simply because he’s French Canadian and they needed a Francophone plan B to missing out on Vinny Lecavalier.

    • kaptaanamerica - Aug 7, 2013 at 1:43 PM

      Briere is solid in the playoffs and comes through with big goals and points every post season.he will make the team better and harder to play against on the special teams.

  4. endusersolutions2013 - Aug 7, 2013 at 12:02 PM

    The big question seems to be, what have they done regarding goaltending? I know they hired the hawks goaltending coach (bummer as a Hawks fan).

    Anything else? Promissing AHL goalie?

    • greenmtnboy31 - Aug 7, 2013 at 1:29 PM

      Excellent point and one area where they need the most improvement. Briere signing was just plain dumb.

  5. stepanup - Aug 7, 2013 at 12:05 PM

    Top 9 of Max Pac, Plekanec, Gionta, Galchenyuk, Desharnais, Bourque, Eller, Briere, Gallagher, and a top 4 D of Subban, Markov, Emelin and Gorges. Competitive, but not in the ranks of the Bruins or Wings. They’ll be in it for the 7 seed. They could really user Cole back.

    • 19to77 - Aug 7, 2013 at 12:13 PM

      Cole’s over the hill. He didn’t do much in Dallas either. Letting Ryder go was a poor move, he’s good for 30ish goals in a full season. And Briere doesn’t add anything they didn’t already have in spades. Definitely some odd moves there, to me. Continued improvement from Galchenyuk and Gallagher could go a long way, though. Gallagher was superb last year.

      As for D, Beaulieu, Tinordi and Ellis should all take steps forward and compete for roster spots next season, so they have more depth and physicality there than some might expect.

      I really wonder about continuing to rely on Price, though. He looks more like a middle-of-the-road, hot-and-cold goalie every year. The bigger the sample size gets, the less impressive he seems to be.

    • greenmtnboy31 - Aug 7, 2013 at 1:33 PM

      They beat the Bruins all year long last year and they’ll do it again this season. The Bruins overachieved big time last year; watch for the big fall in Beantown. If Montreal had made a move to improve their goaltending, then I’d say they’ll compete for 1st in the East, but they’ll have to settle for winning their division and then ride lady luck as far as she’ll take them in the playoffs. The only season they made any noise in the playoffs since Price arrived, was back in 2010 when they had to rely on Halak.

    • kaptaanamerica - Aug 7, 2013 at 1:40 PM

      Habs won the division last season and shows they are a solid regular season team.the young guys will be even better with a year under their belts. Add in the goalies coach, and more centre depth in Briere. habs are in the hunt for first in the division.

      • phillyphanatic77 - Aug 7, 2013 at 2:32 PM

        I think Habs fans will be in for a rude awakening when their team falls back to earth this season. They had a hot two months at the start of last season then they fell completely apart. Their potential probably falls somewhere in between those two extremes. They’re not an elite team in the East. And Briere will not provide the type of production Habs fans are hoping for. First off, he’s missed 86 games over the past 5 seasons, and that will only get worse. He’s breaking down, and at 5’8″ he’s easily taken off the puck. He used to be able to compensate for his size by using his speed and excellent change of direction, but he’s losing those capabilities. You’ll be lucky to get 15-20 goals if he plays a full season. And, this point is made ad nauseaum but it’s true… they’re way too small up front. Yeah they drafted size but it won’t help them immediately. And the obvious x-factor is Price. If he plays to his potential the Canadiens are a playoff team. If he plays like he ended the season, they’re not. It’s that simple. Budaj cannot be relied on to save the day.

      • kaptaanamerica - Aug 7, 2013 at 8:22 PM

        having a Norris winner and an elite talent & solid guy like markov can’t be over rated. Their team is greater than the sum of the parts.

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