Capsule: Montreal Canadiens
Montreal In 2012-13:
Winning the Northeast Division title in 2012-13 with a 29-14-5 record for 63 points, the second-seeded Canadiens were upset by the seventh-seeded Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals four games to one. The Habs’ captain, Brian Gionta, Bradon Prust, Ryan White, Lars Eller and starting goalie Carey Price all succumbed to injuries as Montreal made an early exit in postseason play.
Tampa Bay has recorded a 31-33-6-6 record all-time verse the “Original Six” team in 76 games since the Lightning entered the NHL for the 1992-93 regular season. Last earning a 2-1 win against Montreal on February 28, 2012, the Lightning have suffered four straight losses to the Habs, posting a 0-2-1 record last year.
Forward Max Pacioretty led Montreal’s offense last season with 39 points (15 goals, 24 assists) in 44 games, while blueliner P.K. Subban followed close behind by matching his best point count to date with 38 points (11 goals, 27 assists) en route to the James Norris Memorial Trophy. Netminder Carey Price manned the crease for the Habs last season and ranked seventh in the NHL for wins (21), while posting a .905 save percentage and a 2.59 goals-against average, but saw those numbers drop in the postseason, recording a .894 save percentage and a 3.26 goals-against average in four games (0-2-1).
Key Acquisitions and Departures:
One of the least active teams during the offseason, Montreal’s most notable pickup was former Philadelphia Flyer Danny Briere, who was bought out by the Flyers this summer. Briere will enter his 17th season in the NHL with Montreal in 2013-14 after signing a two-year contract with the Canadiens.
In The System:
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Not making their first pick until late in the first round of the draft, the Canadiens made three selections in the top 40 in 2013, with the initial pick going to right-winger Michael McCarron in the first round (25th overall). Highly-touted center Alex Galchenyuk was drafted by Montreal in the first round (third overall) of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and made his NHL debut with the Habs last season, tallying nine goals and 18 assists in 48 games and also adding one goal and three assists during the Canadiens’ postseason run. A member of Montreal’s 2010 draft class, right-winger Brendan Gallagher was a nominee for the Calder Memorial Trophy, awarded to the NHL’s Rookie of the Year.
Tampa Bay Ties on the Habs:
Canadiens center Jeff Halpern, who was claimed off waivers in March, joined Montreal for the remainder of the 2013-14 season and previously spent the 2007-08 season to midway through 2009-10 with the Lightning when the Bolts sent the Washington, D.C. native to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for Teddy Purcell and a third-round draft pick in 2010. Netminder Dustin Tokarski, who was acquired by the Habs during an in-season trade between the Canadiens and the Lightning in exchange for goaltender Cedrick Desjardins last year, was originally drafted by Tampa Bay in the fifth round (122nd overall) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. Tokarski spent 2009-10 to the 2011-12 season splitting time between the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals and the Lightning, while being crowned the Calder Cup champions in 2011-12.
The Canadiens will join the Lightning for the first season as part of the Atlantic Division, which is a product of the newly-aligned Eastern Conference that now includes two eight-team divisions. Tampa Bay is slated to face Montreal four times in 2013-14, including twice at the Bell Centre in downtown Montreal on Tuesday, November 12 and Saturday, February 1. The game scheduled on November 12 will be the first meeting between the two clubs during the regular season. The Bolts will host the Canadiens for the first time on Saturday, December 28 and again on April 1.