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Canadiens Facing Unanswered Questions Heading In To Postseason

Posted by Don Melrose on 4/27/2013 12:57:30 AM

The Montreal Canadiens weren’t supposed to compete for a Northeast division title in 2013. After all, they are only one year removed from finishing with the worst record in the Eastern Conference, they were still too small, and they lacked the scoring talent to make up for that lack of size. However, that wasn’t the case at all for the Canadiens this year. Montreal competed with the Boston Bruins for the best record in the Northeast, and became a much tougher team to play against along the way. The Canadiens also started scoring more goals, climbing all the way to sixth in the NHL in goals per game. However, Montreal has really struggled down the final stretch, going 4-6-0 over its last 10 games. That has the Canadiens facing several unanswered questions heading in to the postseason, with the biggest concern being whether or not they can break out of this funk.

Goaltending has been the biggest problem for the Canadiens over this final stretch, as they have allowed five goals or more in five of their last six losses. While the defense hasn’t looked as good as it did earlier in the year, Carey Price was pulled in back-to-back games for the first time in his NHL career during that stretch and his goals against average has climbed to 2.59, while his save percentage has dipped to .905. Considered one of the top goalies in the league at the beginning of the year, Price was expected to be the one staple that Montreal could rely on this sports betting season. Now the Canadiens are wondering what they will get from him in the playoffs, and which Price will show up?

As poor as Price has played down this final online betting stretch, the defense hasn’t been very good either. The Canadiens lack the size to wear opponents down, and it has only gotten worse as the year has gone by. PK Subban, Josh Gorges, and Francis Bouillon are solid but they aren’t very big and they don’t land too many big hits. Alex Emelin has missed time, and that has really left Andrei Markov and the rest of the defense exposed. Montreal has the talent on its back end to help the offense, but is it physical enough to survive in the postseason?

The final question that the online sportsbook sites have to consider is, can the forwards hold up in the playoffs? The Canadiens lack size up front, and while Brian Gionta, Tomas Plekanec, and rookie Brendan Gallagher have managed to put up some decent numbers during the regular season, they won’t have nearly as much room in the playoffs. The additions of Brandon Prust and Colby Armstrong might help a bit in that department, but the Canadiens still have a lot of work to do in order to build a team that is much tougher up front. Montreal has already exceeded expectations just by making the playoffs, but with the opening round right around the corner there are several unanswered questions still hanging over this team.

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