The Montreal Canadiens have not exactly wowed anyone during the first month of the new season.
Aside from embarrassing the Winnipeg Jets at their home opener, the Habs got off to an extremely disappointing start with big losses against the Florida Panthers, the Calgary Flames and The Buffalo Sabres.
However, Montreal seem to have turned over a new leaf – with a demolition of the Philadelphia Flyers and back-to-back wins over Stanley Cup champions – the Boston Bruins.
Although Montreal have impressed in their last three games, they must not get carried away. The Habs have been helped by both the Flyers and Bruins dipping in form. The Bruins haven’t had an electric start to their campaign, having gone 3-7 in October – propping up the Eastern Conference. The Flyers struggled to adapt without Chris Pronger who missed the game against the Canadiens with an eye injury.
However, credit is due to the Canadiens. Their change in fortune may have been brought on by the controversial sacking of assistant coach Perry Pearn. The coach, given the boot prior to Montreal’s three-game winning streak, was used as a scapegoat for Montreal’s dismal start to the season.
Carey Price came under some criticism in the opening weeks of the season. In fact, so did most of the Montreal team. However, if the last three games are anything to go by, the Canadiens have shown they can compete with the best in the league.
The return of Mike Cammalleri has helped. However, it is the form of Max Pacioretty and Andrei Kostitsyn that appear to be paying off. In the Canadiens’ demolition of the Flyers, Pacioretty grabbed two goals and an assist and has been very bright so far this season. David Desharnais has also impressed – having four points in his last three games.
Montreal’s defense will not remain watertight for long. There is much inexperience and with a few more injuries – they could be in real trouble. The Canadiens have been very quiet on the status of Andrei Markov, and they need to prepare for life without the Russian for a while yet.
There has been speculation the Canadiens were looking to offload Kostitsyn to bring in a veteran blue-liner in Markov’s absence. However, with Kostitsyn’s bright start to the season and several other teams looking for defensemen – Montreal may have to stick with what they have.
The Habs don’t play until Friday when they visit Ottawa, looking to build on their three-game winning streak. It won’t be easy, however, as the Senators have won their last six games.