The Habs have missed the postseason for two straight seasons. It's been 18 years since they missed three in a row. Are they doomed to go another year without making the playoffs?
The Montreal Canadiens came close last year. Oh-so-painfully close. In fact, they were the best performing team to miss the playoffs in almost a decade, with 96 points on the season. The pressure is on to make the extra effort this season and earn a place in the postseason. Both head coach Claude Julien and general manager Marc Bergevin will have targets on their backs if improvements don’t happen.
Montreal Canadiens Acquisitions and Moves
Remember that whole Sebastian Aho debacle early in the offseason? Unfortunately, that was the defining moment of the Habs’ trade moves. Aho was given an (arguably weak) offer sheet which was matched by his club, the Carolina Hurricanes almost immediately. The Canadiens had even gotten rid of Andrew Shaw to make the cap space available. The city was abuzz. And it all fell apart. Let’s take a look at who the Canadiens picked up, and who they said goodbye to.
Riley Barber comes in from the Hershey Bears in the AHL and could be a forward to watch. Ben Chariot and Nick Cousins have both been added to the roster, but those trades didn’t blow the doors off the building. One of the better acquisitions for Montreal is backup veteran Keith Kinkaid. Last year, Antti Niemi was simply not up to the task and was a big reason why the Habs missed the postseason. Kinkaid will make a better backup for Carey Price.
Montreal Canadiens 2019 NHL Schedule
For the full 2019-20 Montreal Canadiens schedule, click here.
A look at the analysis of the team’s strength of schedule lists the Habs at 0.599 in the Eastern Conference. The Canadiens have a similar strength of schedule to the Blue Jackets, and they’ll have some tough games this season, particularly in the final stretch, when they’ll meet the Blue Jackets, Jets, Lightning, Capitals and Maple Leafs. The goal for the Habs should be to try and rack up as many points as possible before the challenging stretch.
Montreal Canadiens 2019 NHL Odds
The Montreal Canadiens are fairly long shots to win the Eastern Conference, currently priced at +1800 to do so. As of this writing they are also long shots to take the Atlantic Division, with a listed price of +4000.
Montreal Canadiens 2019 Season Prediction
What can Canadiens fans feel excited about this year as their team tries to make the playoffs for the first time in two years? They can definitely feel amped up about some of the young players on the roster that will be much more developed this year. A prime example of that is Jesperi Kotkaniemi, a guy who could have a huge breakout this season. And of course, there’s first round draft picks Ryan Poehling and Nick Suzuki, two guys who could be huge assets to the Habs roster.
As always, fans can at least count on Carey Price. Price had the sixth highest overall save percentage last year, despite starting out sloppy and being way overused. He really needed a dependable backup which the organization has provided with Keith Kinkaid. A healthy Shea Weber would be cause for confidence as would Jonathan Drouin. Drouin tied his career-best in points last season with 53 and led his club with 16 points on the power play.
If this team wants to see the postseason, then they need to improve their powerplay. Last year they had the second worst conversion rate in the entire league. It isn’t outrageous to suggest that this issue is one of the biggest factors in the team missing the playoffs for the last couple of seasons.
Montreal is in one of the toughest division in the league, a division which could very well be home to five playoff teams. This year’s Montreal Canadiens will not be one of them and Mark Bergevin will lose his job when they miss the postseason for the third consecutive year.