It was another summer of change for the Montreal Canadiens.
Following a mostly successful regular season and then a disappointing first-round exit from the playoffs at the hands of the New York Rangers, general manager Marc Bergevin had an eventful summer re-tooling his team.
The Canadiens said goodbye to their longest-tenured member (Andrei Markov), one of their best players from a year ago (Alexander Radulov) and a couple of other role players (Alexei Emelin, Nathan Bealieu). In their place will be an exciting young forward (Jonathan Drouin), a couple of lottery tickets on veterans Ales Hemsky and Mark Streit, and a risky big-ticket free agency in Karl Alzner.
They also made starting goaltender Carey Price one of the highest paid players in the NHL.
Are those the changes the Canadiens need to get over the hump?
Or will it be more of the same in 2017-18 where they only go as far as Price can take them?
Today at PHT we will focus on all of the key storylines impacting the Montreal Canadiens as NHL training camps get closer.
“Must win game” is something that gets thrown around a little too loosely at times in sports, but Friday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens certainly qualifies as one for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
If they win, they get to fight another day in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
If they lose? Their playoff chances are officially finished.
You can see all of the action on NBCSN starting at 7:30 p.m. ET or on our Live Stream.
Click here for the Live Stream.
Lightning look to keep slim playoff hopes alive.
While the Washington Capitals guaranteed their spot as the top seed in the Metro/East/NHL, we also now know with certainty that the New York Rangers will take on the Montreal Canadiens in the first round.
The Canadiens clinched the Atlantic Division while the Rangers are the first wild card.
The Rangers won the most recent series between the two teams, defeating Montreal 4-2 (with some controversy) in 2013-14. We’ll get to see Henrik Lundqvist vs. Carey Price, not to mention a revamped Rangers offense squaring off against a Habs team adjusting to life with new head coach Claude Julien.
The Atlantic Division teams took care of business on Monday, so it only makes sense that the division title was locked down. The Montreal Canadiens did just that tonight after beating the Florida Panthers 4-1.
The Canadiens are now at 46-24-9 with 101 points in 79 games after this, their fifth-consecutive win.
Artturi Lehkonen was the difference-maker in that win tonight, scoring consecutive goals as Montreal scored three unanswered tallies to finish off Florida.
Now Claude Julien has an interesting opportunity.
With the Metro title winner virtually assured of the East’s top spot, Montreal doesn’t have much to gain (beyond pride) in winning its final three games. That would, then, be a good opportunity to rest players; perhaps heavy workload-type like Carey Price and Max Pacioretty could use a breather?
Whatever the case may be, the Canadiens bounced back from last season’s letdown in a big way, even after changing coaches. Next step: topping all of these accomplishments in the playoffs.
The Chicago Blackhawks are battling for the Central Division crown while the Montreal Canadiens hope to get a stronger lead on the Atlantic’s top spot.
A Blackhawks – Canadiens game has lure just in the teams’ rich histories, but when both teams are contenders? Even better.
You can watch the game on NBCSN, online and via the NBC Sports App.
Click here for the livestream.