Jan 18, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Montreal Canadiens defenseman Nathan Beaulieu (40) carries the puck against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre. The Maple Leafs beat the Canadiens 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Poll: Who Will Be The Montreal Canadiens Third Pairing Left Defenseman?

Our vote to predict the Montreal Canadiens starting lineup on opening night is winding down, with just a bottom defense pairing and a backup goaltender left to choose.

Thus far our roster looks like this:

Pacioretty – Desharnais – Parenteau

Galchenyuk – Plekanec – Gallagher

Bourque – Eller – Sekac

Prust – Malhotra – Weise

Markov – Subban

Tinordi – Gilbert

******* – ********

Price

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With only three spots left to vote on, we will focus on the third defense pairing, and first select who will be on the left side.

I really see only two candidates left for this job, and they are Alexei Emelin and Nathan Beaulieu, two defensemen who are almost polar opposites on the ice.

May 22, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers left wing Rick Nash (61) is checked by Montreal Canadiens defenseman Alexei Emelin (74) during the second period in game three of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Emelin is a very physical defender from Russia who throws thundering body checks with great frequency. He is a solid penalty killer and though he is not a perfect skater or puck handler, he keeps opponents aware with his physical presence.

Beaulieu on the other hand is a former first round pick from Ontario who is already a terrific skater, great passer and has offensive instincts that can’t be taught. He has toiled in the minors with the Hamilton Bulldogs for most of the past two seasons, and looks ready to take the next step to NHL regular.

Beaulieu had a brief audition in the postseason last spring, suiting up for seven games, after a lengthy layoff, and fit in very well immediately. Though Beaulieu would not offer much help on the penalty kill like Emelin does, he would provide a huge boost to the Habs second power play that featured Francis Bouillon much of last season.

Beaulieu and Emelin bring very different strengths to the Montreal Canadiens, but both would be valuable members to the lineup. Which one will start the year on the left side of the third pairing?

Who Will Be The Montreal Canadiens Bottom Pairing Left Defenseman Next Season?

  • Nathan Beaulieu (68%, 557 Votes)
  • Alexei Emelin (32%, 267 Votes)

Total Voters: 824

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Tags: Alexei Emelin Montreal Canadiens Nathan Beaulieu

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