The Montreal Canadiens: Losing Key Players and Key Match-Ups

The Montreal Canadiens were eliminated from the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 22nd, losing to a strong New York Rangers team. Their physical play, and decent goal scoring, were not enough to overcome the Wildcard team from the Metropolitan Division.

It’s safe to say that the headlines started early for the Canadiens; earlier than most teams that is. As soon as the trade market opened up for this season, the Canadiens went to work and broke a lot of fan’s hearts: PK Subban was no longer a Canadien.

Gone But Not Forgotten

When the Canadiens traded away Subban to the Nashville Predators for veteran Shea Weber, fans were not happy. Subban was a force to be reckoned with in the Montreal community, always donating to charity and was often seen visiting children’s hospitals around the area, always bringing other teammates with him.

Not only was he a force off the ice, but he was one on the ice. A very physical player, he had gotten the reputation of a strong player on the ice, but a “teddy bear” off the ice. In his final season with Montreal, he racked up 102 hits. This year with Nashville, he had 78.

Fans, after hearing of the trade, replied accordingly:

In return, they received Weber, an aging veteran, who has a hard slap shot. While he does seem to score more than Subban, and is a lot more physical with 140 hits, Subban is definitely much more of a leader on the ice.

He helped lead Nashville to a 4-0 sweep of the Chicago Blackhawks, while Montreal went to the golf course after their first round against the Rangers. A positive trade result was gaining Jordie Benn from the Dallas Stars; but he did not perform as well as they thought he would. He played 13 games and only had two points (2 G).

Players weren’t the only ones that left the team, as Michel Therrien was relieved of his duties as head coach. He was with the team since 2012, and coached 352 games (194-121-37). Replacing him was Claude Julien, who was relieved by the Boston Bruins earlier in the season. This is Julien’s second time in Montreal, after taking the reigns from 2003-2006.

Good, But Not Good Enough

Carey Price was a top performer in the short playoff run for the Canadiens. Despite the poor performance from his offense and defense, he still had some of the top statistics from the first round of the playoffs. When a losing goaltender has a 1.89 Goals Allowed Average, and a .933 Save Percentage, you can’t put the blame on the goalie. The blame has to go to the offense and defense, who can’t get it past the opposing goaltender (in this case, Henrik Lundqvist who was a mad man on the ice).

The Canadiens would be stupid to not re-sign Price, after such a strong performance both in regular season and post-season. He is going into the final season of his very large contract. If he can put up those kind of stats in playoffs while they’re losing, imagine what kind of stats he could have while they’re winning.

Until Next Time, Montreal

For now, Montreal must wait until October to try to get things sorted out. The team has some thinking to do with the offensive standpoint, in order to produce even more goals and offense during next season and hopefully the playoffs. They forced 11 goals, but allowed a huge 14 goals.

Claude Julien will be at the helm of the team next year, and the Canadiens will have a new face to work with; this could potentially be a fresh start for the team.

The Canadiens haven’t made it to the Stanley Cup Finals since the 1992-1993 season, when they defeated the Los Angeles Kings in the finals 4-1. If Price does not sign an extension to his deal before the season starts, will the pressure of a contract year crack Price or fortify him to the levels of Patrick Roy carrying the team and coaching staff to dance with Lord Stanley one more time?

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