The Montreal Canadiens were definitely one of the most surprising teams in the NHL return to play in July. They barely made it as the 24th seed in a 24-team return. That being said, they played the highest-seeded team from the East who did not have a guaranteed playoff spot. Many expected the Pittsburgh Penguins to walk all over Montreal in the five-game set.
However, Montreal took down the Pens in four games. So, they made the standard 16-team bracket as Pittsburgh was sent home early. The Canadiens’ next challenge was the number-one seed Philidelphia Flyers. The Flyers were cup contenders and were expected to make quick work of Montreal. However, Price was able to keep the Canadiens in games and pushed a seven-game set to six games. Even though they lost, the Canadiens made a statement in the return to play.
The New North Division
This offseason a realignment allowed for an all-Canadien division. That’s right all teams North of the border exclusively play each other. Although it only includes seven teams and all other divisions have eight, the North has proven to be one of the most tightly-packed divisions so far. With twelve games under their belt, the Canadiens hold a top-two spot in this highly contested division. They hold an 8-2-2 record and .750 point percentage. Also, they have the best goal differential in the North.
Their early success can be attributed to offseason-acquisitions Josh Anderson, Tyler Toffoli, and Jake Allen. Toffoli and Anderson are wingers on the second-line with young-center Nick Suzuki. Anderson and Toffoli have a combined 23 points through twelve games.
The Canadiens strong finish in 2020 and an amazing start in 2021 are major indicators that they are contenders this season. They also have a talented prospect pool that may allow them to acquire a talented return who can help them win now. Also, they have a generational talent in the net who can steal games for them.
Carey Price can be a brick wall, especially in the playoffs. In the 2020 playoffs, Price had an outstanding .936 save percentage and a 1.78 goals-against average. Their recent performance and acquisitions make them formidable contenders in the North.