Montreal Canadiens: Tough Week Ahead Will Reveal A Lot About Habs

Nov 2, 2023; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Montreal Canadiens right wing Brendan Gallagher (11) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal in the third period against the Arizona Coyotes at Mullett Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 2, 2023; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Montreal Canadiens right wing Brendan Gallagher (11) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal in the third period against the Arizona Coyotes at Mullett Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Montreal Canadiens were expected and predicted by most to finish near the bottom of the NHL standings this season.

It seemed like everyone just forgot to tell the players as they got off to a way better start than anyone expected. After eight games, they were showing a 5-2-1 record and their group of young defenders were playing great, the goaltenders looked awesome and the forwards were showing plenty of depth as well.

A three game road trip put a stop to their winning ways as they lost all three games on a recent road trip out west. However, the first loss was in a shootout against the Vegas Golden Knights who are the defending Stanley Cup champions and have beaten pretty much everyone this season.

The next loss was a tight 3-2 game that could have gone either way against the Arizona Coyotes. Their most recent game, a 6-3 defeat to the St. Louis Blues who were having tons of trouble scoring goals all season, was a bad one. But it was their first bad one.

Was that blowout loss a sign of things to come, or a small blip on the radar of a long season?

We will quickly find out. The Canadiens return home for their next game but find a tough lineup of games coming over the next week. They are off until Tuesday night when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning, but will then play seven games in just 12 days, including four difficult games in a six day stretch.

The Lightning are one of the league’s most difficult opponents as they have dominated the NHL for the past several years. They are just 5-3-3 so far this season but have an incredible roster yet again and are always a tough opponent.

The Habs next game is on Thursday on the road against the Detroit Red Wings who are one of the most improved teams in the league so far this season. They are second in the Atlantic Division with a 7-4-1 record and look like a machine with Alex Debrincat fitting in seamlessly into the lineup.

On Saturday night the Canadiens host the Boston Bruins who are atop the NHL standings yet again this season. How a team loses Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Taylor Hall and keeps clicking like nothing happened is a headscratcher, but these Bruins are still elite and will be a tough opponent.

The western conference’s biggest surprise team, the Vancouver Canucks, arrive at the Bell Centre on Sunday. They are 8-2-1 on the season so far and are a physical group with head coach Rick Tocchet leading the way.

That is a really tough stretch of games for the Canadiens. The Lightning and Bruins have been the class of the NHL for the past decade. The Canucks and Red Wings are off to two of the hottest starts in the league this season.

The Canadiens started 5-2-1 but quickly dropped to 5-4-2. Three of their wins came in extra time and the only teams they have defeated in 60 minutes are the Chicago Blackhawks and Buffalo Sabres. A tough week ahead would leave little hope after just 15 games.

However, even a 2-1-1 record in the next seven days would leave the Canadiens at a very respectable 7-5-3 record and on pace for 93 points on the season. That will be difficult to pull off, but if they can it will show us a lot about this year’s Canadiens.

If they flop and go 1-3-0 and have their record drop to 6-7-2 it would likely mean a long season ahead.

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