Our Montreal Canadiens Preview 2021 observes that last season this team finished fifth in the Atlantic Division with 71 points. The team record was 31-31-9. As a result, they were 12th in the Eastern Conference. Last season, the Canadiens were 19th in goals for with 2.93 PG and 19th in goals against giving up 3.10 PG. The Canadien powerplay ranked 22nd (17.7%). They were 19th on the penalty kill at 78.7%. This season, Montreal plays in the North Division, which is comprised of all seven NHL teams that are located in Canada. They should have a decent shot at the playoffs. Last season, the Canadiens, who were the final team in the conference to make it into the postseason, beat Pittsburgh three games to one in the Qualifying Round. However, in the First Round, the Canadiens lost to the Philadelphia Flyers four games to two.
Tomas Tatar, Phillip Danault, and Brendan Gallagher all return. Last year, the three totaled 57 goals and 94 assists. Danault, who was plus-18, takes center, while Tatar plays left wing and Gallagher right. Also, Tatar, who was +5, scored eight PPG and notched six PPA. Adding to those totals are Gallagher’s one powerplay goal and four assists while posting a plus/minus of eight.
On right wing, Josh Anderson joins the second line. Anderson, who was acquired from Columbus, was signed to a deal that will ensure his with Montreal through 2027. In 2028-2019, Anderson played 82 games with the Blue Jackets scoring 27 points, dishing off 20 assists while posting a plus/minus of 25. Plus, Anderson recorded 214 hits, 46 takeaways, and 40 blocks. However, last year due to numerous shoulder injuries and surgery, he played just 26 games. He did come back for the playoffs.
Center Nick Suzuki and left winger Jonathan Drouin complete Montreal’s second line of front men. Last season, despite carrying a -15 +/-, Suzuki was good for 13 goals and 28 assists while recording 14 points on the powerplay. Last season, Drouin missed over 40 games due to various nagging injuries. When healthy, he good for 45-plus points.
Finally, on the third line, Jesperi Kotkaniemi plays center. Last season, his second in the NHL, Kotkaniemi was limited to 36 games due to a spleen injury. In his rookie year, he played 79 games, scoring 11 goals and notching 23 assists. If he can get back to form, he’ll be a valuable asset. On left wing, Tyler Toffoli comes to Montreal after playing 68 games last season with the Kings and Canucks, scoring 24 points and recording 20 goals. On right wing, Joel Armia was good for 30 points last season.
Montreal Canadiens Preview 2021 – Defense
On the blueline, Ben Chiarot and Shea Weber take the right and left positions respectively. Weber, who was +8, scored 15 goals and dished off 21 assists while making 112 hits and 114 blocks. Like Weber, Chiarot is an aggressive, physical player. In 2019-2020, he recorded 128 blocks and 152 hits while scoring nine goals and recording 12 assists. This duo is solid.
Petry and Brett Kulak also return to man the blueline. Although Petry, a longtime vet, recorded 40 points, he was also -10. However, the D-man also posted 79 blocks and 177 hits. Kulak made minor contributions and is destined for the third line at best.
Alexander Romanov and Joel Edmundson join the team from the KHL’s CSKA Moscow and Carolina respectively. Romanov struggled in the KHL, but performed well in the 2020 World Juniors scoring two goals and recording 12 assists. Romanov has a three-year, entry-level NHL contract. Edmundson is another physical player. In 68 games last year, he was good for 118 hits and 91 blocks. He scored seven goals and made 13 assists while ending the season at +7.
Last season, Carey Price was 40th in save percentage posting a .309 mark and 38th in goals against with a 2.79 average. In 13 seasons, those were some of Price’s worst stats in those categories. His .534 win-percentage was the lowest of his career as he went 27-25-6. Price definitely needs to step it up this season.
Our Montreal Canadiens Preview 2021 observes that the arrival of former St. Louis netminder Jake Allen gives this team a younger but experienced and quality go-to backup who can certainly be a starter. Last season with the Blues, he was 21-12-6 with a .913 save percentage and 2.50 GAA.
Montreal Canadiens Preview 2021: Outlook
Our Montreal Canadiens Preview 2021 observes that this team has made some significant upgrades in all areas. Plus, in net, Price can be impenetrable. But he must find his mojo again. If he can’t, Allen is a fine replacement. This is a deep team which can certainly make a run for the Cup.
2021 Montreal Canadiens Season Preview: Projection
Record: 27-23-6, 60 points
Finish: 4th in the North Division