Going into the season, many hockey pundits and fans alike thought that the Montreal Canadiens were going to be a bad team.
Can you blame them? The team does not have a lot of depth, does not have Carey Price backstopping them, and plays in the unbelievably high-octane Atlantic Division.
Believe it or not, the Canadiens have not been terrible this season. With that said, they have not been great, either.
As of this writing (Wednesday, December 28), the team is eighth in their division and 26th in the league with a 15-17-3 record. Again, not bad, but not great.
When looking at the good things going on with this team, you have to start with the play of youngsters Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield. Suzuki, the team’s captain, currently leads the team in scoring with 31 points (15 goals and 16 assists), while Caufield is right behind him with 28 points (19 goals and 9 assists).
Those two players are going to lead the team into the future. Other players like Kirby Dach (five goals and 17 assists for 22 points), Juraj Slafkovsky (four goals and six assists for 10 points), and Arber Xhekaj (four goals and six assists for 10 points) will need to continue to develop if this team wants to have success in the future.
Another bright spot for this team has been the play of netminder Sam Montembeault. As of this writing, Montembeault is 6-3-0-2 with a 2.89 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage.
Head coach Martin St. Louis has also had a positive impact on this hockey club. He has his team playing hard every night and is showing the rest of the league that despite being one of the youngest teams in the league, they are not going to be pushed around and that they will be a tough team to play against on a nightly basis.
Now it’s time for the bad. For starters, the team is currently 27th in the league in goals scored, as they have scored just 91 goals in 34 games.
The Canadiens also have trouble keeping the puck out of their net. The team is currently 25th in the league in goals allowed, as they have given up 122 goals in 35 games, which means they are giving up more than three goals per game.
Much of that has to do with the poor play of starting goaltender Jake Allen. While Allen certainly is not getting a lot of help, his numbers are pretty bad as he is currently 9-14-0-1 with a 3.26 goals-against average and a .900 save percentage.
This franchise has not made the Stanley Cup playoffs since going to the Final in 2020 when they lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning. This will more than likely be another year in which the team misses the postseason.
With that said, they have a bright future ahead of them. For now, fans just need to accept them for what they are – a team that is stuck in no man’s land.