The Canadiens Don't Care About The Standings

Columbus Blue Jackets v Montreal Canadiens
Columbus Blue Jackets v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

Expectations are sure to increase for the Montreal Canadiens heading into the 2024-25 season and one thing has become certain, this club shows no quit.

Despite injuries and a three-goalie carousel that left many scratching their heads, the Habs have stood toe to toe with the league's best. Teams destined to run the table in the Stanley Cup playoffs have been pushed to overtime by the young squad. The Boston Bruins were another example of a team that should be blowing out Montreal.

But that wasn't the case, Nick Suzuki tied his career best with his 26th goal of the season to draw even with the Bruins in the second period. The Canadiens' youngest player, Juraj Slafkovsky worked a give-and-go with the captain. Suzuki fired home a perfectly placed shot, and the game remained deadlocked after 60 minutes.

Aside from a 4-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, the Habs proved game to hang with some of the NHL's best. A 4-3 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers to close out February followed by another against the Tampa Bay Lightning was a true eye-opener. Then just getting narrowly edged by the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Bruins showed a ton of grit from the young Habs.

Without a true second line and minimal scoring depth throughout the bottom six, this Canadiens squad has shown real grit. Since Roy has been in the lineup, there's a fair argument to be made that he has been the fourth-best forward. Now that can be taken with a glass-half-full mentality or half-empty, considering he is the second youngest player on the team.

But Alex Newhook has formed chemistry with Roy, playing centre, a spot where he will likely not stick next year. When Kirby Dach returns he will likely assume the second-line centre role. And with Roy and Newhook on either wing, the Habs could have themselves a pretty solid one-two punch in their top six.

Playing this competitive now will only add some callouses to this young group. A sure sign that there are more positives than negatives. With a lot of help coming through wings, significant draft capital and Kent Hughes calling the shots, who knows what's to come?

But one thing has become abundantly clear, this team is building a strong foundation and the culture runs deep. Year two of the rebuild has had its fair share of bumps and bruises. But the team on the ice has done an admirable job of playing until the last whistle, regardless of the team on the other side of the ice.