Montreal Canadiens: The Difference Makers

Most Hab fans will agree that the 2018-19 season was cut short; that the Canadiens played well enough through the 82-game schedule to qualify for the post-season. Though the organization didn’t reach their ultimate goal, there’s plenty of positives to take away from this edition of the Canadiens and the exclamation point came courtesy of 20-year old Ryan Poehling on the very final day of the calendar for Montreal. Let’s take a look at five forwards directly responsible for the Canadiens’ bounce back season.

To say the Canadiens exceeded expectations this season would be an understatement, and the man leading the way as far as playing above what most expected is none other than Max Domi. I for one saw Domi as an energy 3rd line winger at the time of his acquisition; well aware of the success he had in Juniors but, I wasn’t convinced he would ever become the point producer he would turn into in his very first season as a Hab. Domi has without a doubt become a fan favorite after just one season and has left fans wanting more of the same for many years to come.

What can be said about Brendan Gallagher that hasn’t been said already? The work ethic is contagious and the diminutive winger has become an irreplaceable leader on a team filled with youth. He followed up an improbable 31-goal season in 17-2018 by notching 33 this time around, recording his first NHL hat trick in the process against the Philadelphia Flyers. Standing at 5’9″, Gallagher was among the league leaders in scoring opportunities from the slot area, always willing to pay the price and never backing down from much bigger defenders. The on they call ‘Gally’ is without a doubt the straw that stirs the drink for this team.

What a difference a year can make… at this time last year, winger Andrew Shaw was a forgotten man, often injured as he only managed 20 points in 53 games. But the Belleville, Ontario native turned his fortunes around and put up a career year for the Canadiens in 2018-19. Moved up and down the lineup, Shaw was a spark plug for a team who was in desperate need of some positives heading into the campaign. A lot of question marks still remain regarding his health but he managed to stay relatively healthy for most of the year and made a case for himself as a valuable member of the forward group.

(Photo: Canadiens.com)

Tomas “Tuna” Tatar was always a consistent top-6 winger; good for at least 20 goals a season, but his move to Montreal has turned him into a rockstar. Another of many players reaching career highs this season, Tatar was regarded as somewhat of a salary dump in the Max Pacioretty trade prior to the start of the season. However, ┬áit didn’t take long for him to establish himself as one of the go to guys on the offensive side of the puck. And let’s not forget that he also holds the distinguished honor of having the best nickname in all of hockey.

The youth movement is clearly in effect in Montreal and leading the way was 18-year old Jesperi Kotkaniemi. The 3rd overall selection in this past draft, Kotkaniemi didn’t put up record breaking statistics in his first season at the pro level, or even numbers that would have him in the Calder trophy conversation. But the potential was clearly on display and fans got a glimpse of what they hope will turn into a very good two-way center. All while finishing only 5 points off the best total by an 18-year old in team history with 34.

Now we look to the draft and free agency before the Canadiens embark on what should be another exciting season. In the mean time, enjoy the playoffs and what should be an eventful summer for the Montreal organization.

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2 Responses to Montreal Canadiens: The Difference Makers

  1. Very well said.

    Brian May 5, 2019 at 11:53 pm Reply
  2. unfortunately we have Drouin who has no defensive abilities whatsoever and can not play a full 60 minute game.he will never be the next great French Canadian player that Bergevin anointed him when he did the trade..we really need to cut our loses and trade him..

    baybye May 6, 2019 at 7:29 am Reply

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