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Montreal Canadiens 2014/15 Team Preview

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1 Montreal Canadiens 2014/15 Team Preview on Thu Jan 30, 2014 11:36 am

Division: Atlantic
General Manager: Mike Tokunaga
Head Coach: Mike Tokunaga

Last Year: In a season where most teams struggled to learn each other's first names, Montreal established a physical identity early in the year and thrived on it. Becoming one of, if not the most physical team in the league, the Canadiens wore teams down and by many third periods, the change in their opponent's willingness to engage in puck battles was noticeably different.

Not to be outdone, their offence grew as the season wore on. Led by John Tavares, the group became feared for their heavy and accurate shooting. Injuries capped a lot of career best seasons in Montreal, but opponents couldn't try to take away just Tavares or Landeskog as Saad, Coyle or Horton could make you pay just as dearly.

They finished the regular season 2nd in the Atlantic and dominated in their first round playoff series win. The second round didn’t go as well, as they’d lose to the eventual Stanley Cup champions. Even then, they accomplished something no other team did in the playoffs, defeating the Wings twice and dominated they physically all the way through the series before falling in 6 games.

This Year: Major offseason changes behind the bench and in the lineup will make it interesting to see if Montreal stays as dedicated to owning the physical play on a game in, game out basis. A major infusion of skill (Simmonds, van Riemdsyk, Doughty) as well as improvements from the younger players (Hopkins, Coyle, Saad, Gudbranson) should mean an increase in offensive production while they're hoping a change in net also means fewer questionable goals finding the twine. They also solidified themselves down the middle with the additions of Stoll and Handzus which will help them out on the PK and provide insurance should anything happen to Tavares or Hopkins.

Projected Depth Chart
Simmonds - Tavares - van Riemsdyk
Coyle - Nugent-Hopkins - Saad
Halischuk - Stoll - Bickell
Arnott - Handzus - Campbell

Doughty - Gudbranson
Hamonic - Cole
Braun - Murray

Pavelec - Helenius

Prospect Watch:
Mark Visentin (22):  The inclusion of Zach Fucale, a highly regarded prospect, in the deal for Drew Doughty was because of Visentin.  Currently the starting goalie for Montreal’s AHL club, Visentin shows just as much promise as Fucale does, but is further along in his development. He could be making a push for an NHL spot as early as next season.

Artturi Lehkonen (19): A left winger who has shown a comfort at both ends of the ice, Lehkonen still has a lot of growth to do before he is pushing for a spot on an NHL roster. Currently at 5’11” and 157 lbs, he will have to grow into his frame more to withstand NHL punishment, but already has shown a strong skating ability which will serve him well.

Darren Dietz (21): At 21, Dietz is getting to the point where he will have to develop his game in the next year or so to push his way into the NHL.  A 6’1” defenseman, he is 206 lbs, making him solidly built for the pro game.  Already possessing a hard shot and smooth skating ability, he still needs to work on the other parts of his game.

Carl Neill (18):  Neill was the Canadiens first pick of the last NHL draft.  Taken in the 2nd round, he is a bit of a risk as a 6’ defenseman.  However, he was drafted because of the offense he brings from the back end, possessing a hard shot and strong skating.  He has to show a lot of growth if he has a chance at being a regular in the NHL.

The Upside: Added skill to every level of the lineup while sacrificing very little in terms of physical play. Once again the Canadiens should challenge for supremacy in the East and be on the short list of Stanley Cup contenders.

The Downside: An odd offseason to say the least. How long will Tokunaga remain as the interim coach and would changing coaches during the season help or hinder this lineup? Will there be other fallout from the Therrien situation that could serve as a distraction going forward?

Our Prediction: 2nd in the Atlantic, 3rd in the East

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2 Re: Montreal Canadiens 2014/15 Team Preview on Thu Jan 30, 2014 3:40 pm

Stay tuned tomorrow as we'll post the Chicago Blackhawks preview.

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3 Re: Montreal Canadiens 2014/15 Team Preview on Thu Jan 30, 2014 4:39 pm

viran45

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ohhhhh exciting

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