Habs Looking to Right the Postseason Wrongs of Last Year
With strong goaltending and well-balanced offense, the Habs finished second in the East with a 29-14-5 record. Unfortunately, the team's success in the regular season did not carry over into the Stanley Cup playoffs as the club was knocked out in the first round by the seventh-seeded Ottawa Senators.
The Habs have once again had a solid regular season in this year's NHL campaign. As of this writing, the team has clinched a playoff spot in the Conference's Atlantic Division and are currently tied with the Tampa Bay Lightning for second in the division with 93 points.
For the Habs to do well in the postseason, several things are going to have to happen. It all begins with the goaltending of Carey Price.
When Price, 26, is on top of his game, he is one of the league's premiere puck stoppers. This season, Price is 32-19-5 with a 2.36 goals against average (12th in the league), a .925 save percentage (fifth in the league) and five shutouts (third in the league).
In the postseason, Price is going to have to be like he was with Team Canada in the Winter Olympics and that is at his very best. This means that his movements between the pipes will be controlled, he will be in position for first, second, and third shots, he will keep the play at the top of his crease, and he will play with a lot of confidence.
In the playoffs in his career, Price has been extremely inconsistent. If the Habs want to make some noise come April, that is going to have to change.
The team is also going to need to get consistent goal scoring if they want to play well when it matters most. For the Canadiens, this means guys like Max Pacioretty (35 goals and 19 assists for 54 points), Tomas Plekanec (20 goals and 21 assists for 41 points), Brendan Gallagher (19 goals and 21 assists for 40 points), and Brian Gionta (15 goals and 21 assists) are all going to have to be able to put the puck in the net with some kind of regularity.
The club will also need its depth players to step up as well and produce. Players like Daniel Briere (13 goals and 12 assists for 25 points), David Desharnais (15 goals and 34 assists for 49 points), Alex Galchenyuk (12 goals and 17 assists for 29 points) and Lars Eller (11 goals and 12 assists for 23 points) will need to provide secondary scoring as the Habs make their march towards hockey's Holy Grail.
On the other side of the puck, the Canadiens are going to have to do a much better job of keeping the shots against down. The Habs are currently 21st in the league in averaging just over 30 shots against per game.