2015 NHL Awards - Press Room

It’s Montreal Canadiens day at PHT


If you wanted the story of Montreal’s ’14-15 campaign, all you had to do was watch the NHL Awards.

Or more specifically, the Carey Price awards.

Price was at the microphone four times to celebrate his banner campaign: Once for the Hart Trophy as league MVP, once for the Vezina as the NHL’s top netminder, once for the Ted Lindsay award as the most outstanding player as voted by the players, and once for the William Jennings Trophy as a goalie on the team that allowed the fewest goals in the regular season.

OK, he did have to share that last one with Corey Crawford. But you get the idea.

Simplistic as it sounds, Montreal’s season was mostly about Price, in that the Habs went as far as their star goalie would take them. Sure, other Canadiens played integral roles — Max Pacioretty scored 37 goals, P.K. Subban was a Norris Finalist — but for the most part, the 50 wins and 110 points and second-round playoff appearance was due to No. 31.

Which begs the question:

Can he do it again?

Off-season recap

GM Marc Bergevin’s spent most of the summer attending to in-house business. All three of his trade deadline pickups — Brian Flynn, Torrey Mitchell and Jeff Petry — were extended, with Petry scoring the biggest with a six-year, $33 million deal.

Youngsters Alex Galchenyuk, Michael Bournival, Jarred Tinordi, Christian Thomas, Greg Pateryn and Nathan Beaulieu were also given new deals, while veterans Mike Weaver, Sergei Gonchar, Manny Malhotra and P.A. Parenteau (via buyout) were sent packing.

As for new faces? Zack Kassian was acquired from Vancouver in exchange for Brandon Prust, while Carolina castoff Alex Semin was signed to a one-year, $1.1M deal after the ‘Canes bought him out.

At the draft, Montreal used its first-round pick to select WHL Everett blueliner Noah Juulsen 26th overall.

All in all, it was a perfunctory offseason for the Habs. Firmly in the mix as an Eastern Conference contender, the club didn’t feel the need to make a big summer splash — in fact, based on the Flynn and Mitchell and Petry contracts, it could be argued that Bergevin’s upgrading happened on Mar. 2, not July 1.

Risk Factors: Montreal Canadiens edition

Michel Therrien

From the same bunch of pessimists who brought you “Why your team won’t win the Stanley Cup,” PHT presents a new series called “Risk Factors,” i.e. three reasons to be worried about each NHL team in 2014-15.

Montreal Canadiens

1. Michel Therrien might not be the man to lead the Canadiens to the Cup.

Therrien guided Montreal to the Eastern Conference Final last season and with Carey Price in his prime and P.K. Subban entering his, now is the time for the Canadiens to take the next step. That said, Montreal is still an underdog to win the it all, despite having plenty of talent on its roster.

Part of Montreal’s underdog status comes from last year’s blemishes. The Canadiens had a 100-point campaign but struggled when it came to puck possession (based largely on the team’s Fenwick, which dropped from 53.51 in 2013 to 47.86 last year, per War On Ice.)

In other words, Montreal’s in danger of regressing at a time when it wants to be a serious contender.

How much blame Therrien deserves for Montreal’s puck possession problems is open for debate, but his teams have traditionally looked bad from an advanced statistics perspective, per Sportsnet.

Therrien’s usage of Subban has also come under question on numerous occasions. While both the coach and blueliner bristle at the notion of a frayed relationship, the numbers point to Therrien not fully trusting Subban in certain situations — specifically, late-game ones that require defensive responsibility and sound decision-making.

The 50-year-old bench boss also isn’t afraid to ruffle feathers by parking slumping players.

“If you’re hot, you’re going to play,” forward Lars Eller told NHL.com last season. “If you’re struggling, then you’re not.

“[Therrien] doesn’t care too much about the name on the back.”

That approach can cause friction. Daniel Briere, a veteran presence, was mired in the press box several times last year before getting shipped off to Denver (more on that below). Therrien took a similar approach with David Desharnais earlier in the season, making the diminutive forward a healthy scratch while he was slumping. Thomas Vanek, the club’s big trade deadline acquisition, expressed disappointment that Therrien reduced his role in the playoffs and messed with the chemistry developed on a line with Desharnais and Max Pacioretty.

All that said, it doesn’t appear as though Therrien’s going anywhere soon. Montreal committed to him in June by signing him to a four-year extension. He still remains a controversial coach, though, and one that has overseen a fair number of talented teams — but without leading any to a championship.

2. Andrei Markov isn’t getting any younger.

Subban and Price might be the leaders in Montreal, but there’s no question that Markov still plays a vital role. He averaged 25:14 minutes per game last year and was leaned on heavily both with the man advantage and while killing penalties. Markov rewarded Montreal with seven goals, 43 points, and a team-high plus-12 rating.

Problem is, Markov turns 36 in December — which comes in the first of his three-year, $17.25 million extension. The Russian rearguard has only missed one regular season game over his last two seasons, but also has a lengthy history of knee problems.

The Canadiens probably appreciate those risks, but they re-signed Markov anyways for a very simple reason: They couldn’t afford not to. They relied so heavily on Markov last season that replacing him internally was out of the question. Saying that, if Markov were to get hurt or significantly decline this year, the Canadiens would have a very difficult time finding a capable fill-in.

If the goal is for Montreal to compete for the Stanley Cup now, then its chances will be far bleaker if Markov isn’t able to do his part.

3. P.A. Parenteau might not have a bounce back season in him.

Parenteau had 18 goals and 43 points in 48 games with the Colorado Avalanche during the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign, but fell out of Patrick Roy’s favor last year. Parenteau felt he was never part of the rookie coach’s plans and, subsequently, was limited to 14 goals and 33 points in 55 contests last season.

Montreal looked to have taken advantage of the situation by acquiring Parenteau and a 2015 fifth round pick in exchange for Daniel Briere — but the trade might not be the victory the Canadiens are hoping for.

Parenteau, who was born in Hull, Quebec, will be under far more pressure now than he has been at any other point in his career. The 31-year-old was a late bloomer as he didn’t firmly establish himself until the 2010-11 campaign with the Islanders. Starting with that season, he only played for teams that failed to make the postseason until the 2013-14 Avalanche and has never played in anything close to a market like Montreal. Briere’s homecoming was a bust — will Parenteau’s be the same?

To that end, the Canadiens hoping he’ll stay healthy after he battled knee problems last season. But that’s not off to a great start; Parenteau recently sustained a lower-body injury and while it’s not believed to be serious, it might be an early warning of things to come.

It’s Montreal Canadiens day on PHT

Boston Bruins v Montreal Canadiens - Game Three

Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Montreal Canadiens.

The Montreal Canadiens enjoyed a deep playoff run after a solid regular season in 2013-14, even if they ended up facing a few “What if?” questions considering Carey Price’s injury during an entertaining Eastern Conference semifinal series against the New York Rangers.

To get there, the Canadiens swept division mates the Tampa Bay Lightning and managed to beat hated rivals the Boston Bruins in a seven-game series.

P.K. Subban was especially brilliant against the Bruins, collecting seven of his team playoff scoring-leading 14 points in that series alone. Price’s injury punctuated a season that was brilliant even if it was marred by ailments, including the issues he dealt with while helping Canada win gold at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

The Canadiens got a little younger in the offseason as Brian Gionta left town while Daniel Briere was traded for P.A. Parenteau. Adding Tom Gilbert and Manny Malhotra could pay off as subtle tweaks for a team that showed some promise last season, particularly when Michel Therrien really let the team loose.

While the Habs entered last season as a team with tempered expectations, hockey-mad Montreal will probably expect quite a bit in 2014-15, especially from Subban on the heels of his massive raise. There are plenty of reasons to believe the player and team can deliver amid those high hopes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be easy.

WATCH LIVE: Montreal Canadiens at New York Rangers (Game 6)

Chris Kreider Dustin Tokarski

Will the Rangers win “the most important hockey game in New York in 20 years” or will the Canadiens send this series back to Montreal for a decisive Game 7?

We’ll find out on Thursday night as Game 6 takes place at Madison Square Garden. You can watch the game on NBCSN and/or by streaming it via the link below.


The Canadiens won a wild Game 5 in Montreal on Tuesday and carry momentum from one of their best performances of this series. While Dustin Tokarski hopes to have a better night, there are plenty of Habs players who want to repeat their performances, especially Rene Bourque after his impressive hat trick.

The Rangers are one loss away from remarkably finding themselves in three seven-game series in these playoffs. The question is: will Henrik Lundqvist continue to come up short in elimination games where only the other team’s season is on the line? It’s an odd distinction yet the numbers are pretty stark.

This has been a fantastic and odd series, with plenty of heat and hot air coming from both sides. We’ll see if this series ends tonight or if we’ll get the treat (and tension) of a Game 7 soon enough.

WATCH LIVE: New York Rangers at Montreal Canadiens (Game 5)

Benoit Pouliot,  Alexei Emelin, Thomas Vanek
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The Montreal Canadiens face the New York Rangers with their season on the line on Tuesday as they attempt to extend this conference final series beyond Game 5.

Both teams probably see significant room for improvement, especially when it comes to special teams (Montreal wants to be more efficient on the power play while the Rangers want to avoid giving the Habs so many chances). Game 5 airs on NBCSN and can also be streamed via the link below.


The Rangers have been strong in elimination games, although it seems like they’ve been better when their own season has been on the line. They failed to knock off the Philadelphia Flyers in a Game 6, but won that Game 7 plus three straight against the Pittsburgh Penguins. There’s plenty of motivation to avoid a long series after a lengthy run in the postseason so far.

The Canadiens might not be at their peak of confidence, yet Dustin Tokarski has been brilliant at times and they could be a tough out at home. It all shapes up for an intriguing matchup, even if the yapping died down a bit between the two sides.