Could 2017 be the year that the drought ends in Montreal?
June 9th, 1993. This was the last time the Stanley Cup was won by the Canadiens or even a Canadian team in general.
I could give an abundance of statistics that would make it look like Montreal has good odds to win the Stanley Cup this year, or I could give an abundance of statistics that would make it look like they have a slim chance of winning it.
As of Friday, Montreal has a 28-13-6 record, putting them in sixth in the league. That said, their penalty kill percentage is sitting all the way down at 23rd in the league at 79.1 percent, a specialty team that the club needs to focus on. Their power-play, sitting at ninth in the league could also be improved.
Instead of just simply looking at the statistics like an abundance of other analysts, I went ahead and asked knowledgeable fans what they thought:
Fan, Brian Coughlin, feels the Habs to absolutely be contenders, but expects Washington or San Jose to win if Montreal fails to. He feels, “the best part of the Habs this year is the proof that they aren’t last year’s team. In many ways, the team no longer lacks leadership and no longer relies on Carey Price to win games.” Coughlin also went on to say, “Bergevin is known to make moves at the deadline and I fully expect him to make a move for a mobile defenseman.”
Tyler Dietrich, a fellow Habs’ fan and friend of mine, also weighed in on the situation:
“The best aspect of the Habs this season has been their flexibility to produce solid offence while they have been dealing with these injuries. To be at the top of their division and not be using their typical lines really proves that they can adjust to whatever the circumstance.”
Dietrich feels however that they really need to fix their inconsistency and that the team collectively having an off night once a week simply won’t do. In the playoffs, he expects six or seven game series for Montreal purely based on their inconsistency. Dietrich is not yet decided whether or not they will be serious Cup contenders but says:
“If the playoffs started right now, I think they would get put out in the conference final. When playing a top-tier team in a series, you can’t afford to have ‘off nights.’ They will take advantage of that and make you pay. So to improve, they need to figure out why they are so hot/cold and target that before playoffs roll around.”
Félix Lessard predicts the Canadiens to be a part of the Eastern Conference Final. When asked what the chances are of them winning the Cup this year, his response was:
“To win a Stanley Cup, you need to have every player heading in the same direction. I see this in this 16-17 edition of the Habs. The guys are having fun and believe in themselves.”
Lessard continues on to say that:
“If Bergevin isn’t able to finalize any trade, I would give more responsibilities to Michael McCarron and Charles Hudon. Those two young forwards have the talent to help Michel Therrien win hockey games. Michael would help with his size by going in front of the net and hitting hard. Also, Charles has proved in the AHL he is now ready to help the Canadiens. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Las Vegas has an eye on him.”
Another fan, Nicolas Quintero, when asked what he felt the worst aspect of the Habs to be this season, explained it to be, “the injuries. It has been sad to see so many talented players go down, particularly guys that drive the team forward such as Gallagher. Hopefully the team’s core will be good to go in the playoffs. “
Quintero feels the Habs to have a genuine chance at winning the Cup, but feels them to be missing a few keys pieces. “starting with a top six forward if Lehkonen or Plekanec don’t pick up steam. They absolutely need another defenseman that can eat up minutes and move the puck well.”
It seems everyone has a slightly different opinion but it all comes down to the team needing to improve some aspects of their game in order to better their chances of winning it all. In my opinion, the inconsistency is of utmost importance for Canadiens’ General Manager, Marc Bergevin, to address.
As much as a team is to bulk up and improve, come playoffs anything can happen; that is the beauty of it. Everyone can be betting against a team and assume them to be put out first round and they could prove them wrong game after game. Every team in the NHL possesses an abundance of talent and those who manage to make the all-important playoffs are the best of the thirty teams.
A bounce of the puck in a certain direction, a missed trip, a break of a stick, can all chance the game in an instant.
With this season being the National Hockey League’s historic 100th season, the most storied franchise in the league winning the Cup would be picture perfect.
My followers were also polled on what they felt the Habs’ chances of winning the playoffs to be and more specifically what round they felt the Canadiens would make it to:
Further, do you think the #Habs will win the Cup in 2017?
— Caitlyn Golem 🏒⚾🏋️ (@CaitlynGolem) January 18, 2017
What round do you predict the #habs to make it to this year in the playoffs?
— Caitlyn Golem 🏒⚾🏋️ (@CaitlynGolem) January 18, 2017
Back to the original question, will 2017 be the year the drought ends in Montreal? The playoffs much like predicting the weather is exactly that – a prediction. No one really knows what the future holds but that’s the beauty of it.