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Where do the Bleu-Blanc-Rouge stack up in an Eastern conference that had a busy offseason?
As you may remember the Montréal Canadiens missed the 2018-2019 playoffs by 2 points. This was obviously not the end we wanted.
Now as we head into the 2019-2020 season, what can we expect from our Habs?
Their offseason started with an offer sheet to young centerman Sebastian Aho of the Carolina Hurricanes. While it didn’t work out, they ended up with a solid shutdown defenseman in Ben Chiarot, who will fit nicely with offensive defenceman Jeff Petry.
Now moving to their competitors in the Atlantic Division with the ever-threatening Ottawa Senators. Sorry I couldn’t type that seriously; no, this team will most likely finish last in the Atlantic and maybe even in the league. Now we can move on to another team that may not have high hopes but interesting development, the Detroit Red Wings. This team could be intriguing on offence but their defence and goaltending are too spotty for this team to even make a run.
Next up the Buffalo Sabres, the team with the biggest drop off since November. This team has a solid offence with star centerman Jack Eichel and 40 goal scorer Jeff Skinner. A much better defence with the additions of Colin Miller and Henri Jokiharju, the Sabres look to be more competitive this year although their only caveat is goaltending. I can’t trust Carter Hutton for a full season and that’s why I don’t believe in them going far beyond 80 points, meaning no playoffs.
Now this next team completely revamped their goaltending, getting them back to the playoffs for the 2nd time in this decade. Of course, I’m talking about the Florida Panthers and their signing of all-star goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. This team, with their all-star level offence, solid defence and top 5 goaltending, this team will make a serious run for the division even to the point of challenging their interstate counter parts, the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Speaking of them, their offseason was mixed losing Stralman but the return of everyone else. They will still be a string contender once again, I don’t believe they will obtain 62 wins like they did last year, which could be a good thing in the long run.
Now we will observe the offseason of the Habs loudest rival (and most obnoxious) the Toronto Maple Leafs. Their main issue was defence and they fixed it by adding more offensive defenceman in Tyson Barrie and Cody Ceci, not the strongest defensively and that could be a problem for them.
Now the Habs biggest rival, the Boston Bruins. They will be icing practically the same lineup as they did during their Stanley Cup Finals run. This team’s main issue will be the fact that the core is getting older which could also affect the enigma that is Tuukka Rask.
Now, knowing all this about all the Eastern Conference teams where do I think the Montreal Canadiens will finish? Honestly, with a full season with Shea Weber and Carey Price laying like he did, this team could very well make a wild-card but not by much. Get ready Montreal, another emotional season is coming.
Originally Published in Bandersnatch Vol.49 Issue 07 on December 4th, 2019