Even with some recent stumbles, the Montreal Canadiens head into 2017 in a pretty strong position. Still, they’ll need to navigate some tough waters ahead.
It’s not just injuries that might prove a challenge to the Habs, either. Only the New York Islanders have enjoyed a friendlier home-to-road ratio so far in 2016-17, but that will “correct” itself in a harsh way soon.
Take a look at how the schedule breaks to end 2016 and begin 2017:
Wednesday (Dec. 28): at Lightning
Thursday (Dec. 29): at Panthers
Saturday (Dec. 31): at Penguins
Jan. 3: at Predators
Jan. 4: at Stars
Jan. 7: at Maple Leafs
Jan. 9: vs. Capitals
Jan. 11: at Jets
Jan. 12: at Wild
Considering the three back-to-back sets and the fact that they have just one home game in that bunch, there are some legitimate challenges in those couple weeks.
While there are some elements that do relieve the tension a bit – getting a break after New Year’s Eve – it’s still a pretty tough haul.
With so much focus on narratives that are a little more abstract – like chemistry – we often lose sight of the influence a schedule can have on a team’s fate, especially in a salary cap era of parity. We could learn a lot about this rendition of the Montreal Canadiens over the next two weeks.