Montreal Canadiens: Biggest Questions Going Into 2023-24

MONTREAL, CANADA - JANUARY 12: Juraj Slafkovsky #20 of the Montreal Canadiens celebrates a 4-3 victory with goaltender Sam Montembeault #35 against the Nashville Predators at Centre Bell on January 12, 2023 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
MONTREAL, CANADA - JANUARY 12: Juraj Slafkovsky #20 of the Montreal Canadiens celebrates a 4-3 victory with goaltender Sam Montembeault #35 against the Nashville Predators at Centre Bell on January 12, 2023 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /
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Apr 1, 2023; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens goalie Sam Montembeault (35) looks towards the play against the Carolina Hurricanes during the second period at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 1, 2023; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens goalie Sam Montembeault (35) looks towards the play against the Carolina Hurricanes during the second period at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports /

The Habs have a good crop of young talent, but their chances of making the playoffs already seem slim. Many people, myself included, just don’t think they’re far along enough in their rebuild to compete. The talent isn’t entirely on par with other playoff teams, at least not yet. But health and big steps in development can change that really quick.

But perhaps the most significant question mark comes from between the pipes. Last season, the Canadiens got pretty good goaltending from Samuel Montembeault and Jake Allen. But if all my years watching hockey have taught me one thing, it’s that last year doesn’t mean much when talking about the current season, especially in regards to goaltending.

Can Montembeault and Allen deliver yet again and maybe even be better than they were last year? If the answer is no, it’s difficult to see the Canadiens making a run towards the playoffs. But if the answer is yes, then anything is possible.

Of course, the way the Canadiens play in front of their goaltenders is important, too. Poor defensive play at times last year saw the Habs ask too much from their goaltenders. It resulted in games in which they gave up three or four goals but still made 40+ saves.

Still, this will be a huge question mark regarding the success of the Canadiens in 2023-24, especially if the offence struggles at times, which has been a constant theme of the Canadiens for a very long time now. If the goaltending is good, playoffs are still a possibility. If not, you’re likely looking at another bottom-five finish.

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