Top 5 Storylines Going into the 2013-2014 Canadiens Season

Photo: John Kenney, THE GAZETTE

Photo: John Kenney, THE GAZETTE

There are many deciding factors that go into the success of a hockey team over an 82 game season. Here are 5 important storylines that will undoubtedly contribute to the success or demise of the 2013-2014 Montreal Canadiens.

 

Number 5: Jarred Tinordi

Montreal’s 22nd overall pick in the 2010 entry draft looked very comfortable in his second go around with the big club last season. Tinordi stepped into a difficult role, making his playoff debut before reaching the 10 game mark in the NHL. Nevertheless, he looked very comfortable (if that’s possible) against Ottawa and all but solidified himself in the top 6 as they await the return of Alexei Emelin, who could be out until the New Year. What makes Tinordi such a unique player, is that he possesses a skill set that does not exist on the Canadiens blue line, aside from the aforementioned Emelin. He will make mistakes, no doubt, but he needs to be making them in Montreal and not in Hamilton. With guys like Gorges, Diaz, Boullion and Markov, there is no doubt that the time is now for the young Minnesota native defencemen to show he belongs. His in your face gritty style, along with his 6’6 & 220lbs frame is something the Canadiens desperately need, given the division they play in. With the lack of activity on defense by the Canadiens brass this off-season, you would have to think that they believe he has the tolls to step in next season and make a difference.

 

Number 4: Daniel Briere

I am perhaps in the minority who think that the Briere signing was a good one, simply by looking at what was else was out there. I have no trouble saying goodbye to the worst 30 goal scorer in the league in Michael Ryder. If he doesn’t score, he is the most liable player on the ice, something the Canadiens can do without. I will tell you right now, if Danny Briere can stay healthy and play 60 games, he will finish in the top 3 in scoring on the team, which is pretty good for a guy that people thought didn’t belong in our top 6. He brings energy, good attitude and a professional approach to the rink each day. This is something you need when you have one of the youngest teams in the league. He can produce on the power play, an area in which the team took a step back last season and his 109 pts in 109 playoff games is something to lean on, should they make it back to the postseason. Whichever side of the coin he falls on, it will certainly impact the success of the team this season.

 

Number 3: David Desharnais

It seems like light years ago that DD put up 60 points in 81 regular season games and lived up to the hype of being “One of the best players not in the NHL” (long time buddy Max Pacioretty said after Desharnais 78 point and +30 rating season in 2009-2010 with the Bulldogs). After a sub par 2013 season, it appears that fans have anointed Desharnais as the new Scott Gomez, although his $3.5 cap hit is nowhere near Gomez’s $7 million. Desharnais has proven to be a solid power play guy and his chemistry with Pacioretty allows him to be penciled in as a top 2 centermen, a spot that seems to be in demand this season. There is no doubt that Desharnais needs to be better this season and he likely will be. He is 2 years removed from a solid campaign and he seems to be motivated to prove people wrong that he is deserving of the contract offered to him last year by Marc Bergevin. Look for him to be a key contributor early and often as he will likely start the year between Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher.

 

Number 2: Alex Galchenyuk

Two words come to mind when I think of Alex Galchenyuk and this year’s version of the Montreal Canadiens. MANAGING EXPECTATIONS.

It’s been a long time since Hab fans have had a player as explosive and electrifying as #27. The sky is the limit with this kid and in a world of instant gratification, it seems like everyone is just waiting for him to explode. Let us remember that he has played a total of 94 hockey games over the past 3 years as he missed most of the 2011-2012 season with a serious knee injury. There is no doubt that he, along with fellow sophomores Brendan Gallagher and Jared Tinordi are the future of this team but just because the Canadiens have not had a superstar since Guy Lafleur and a 50 goal scorer since Stephane Richer, it does not mean we need to speed up the process for this kids development. Therrien and his staff did an excellent job managing Galchenyuk’s ice time last season and seemed to find ways to put him in favorable situations, which undoubtedly lead to his team leading +14 rating. It will be interesting to see how the 19 yr old manages an 82 game campaign and deals with the ups and downs of his first full professional season. If he handles it well and can stay healthy, watch out!

 

Number 1: Carey Price

For Carey Price this could be the season we have all been waiting for… An off-season wedding, new goalie coach, Olympic orientation camp and its same old same old for the often scrutinized 26 year old goalie. Many people said last year that the Canadiens won in spite of Carey Price. I could not disagree more with that assessment. Price was in the top 3 in goaltending wins for most of the season and until a forgettable month of May, he was still regarded as one of the top young goalies in the league. You win as a team and loose as a team but in Montreal, if you play in the blue paint, it doesn’t always work like that.

No one has more to prove than Carey Price going into this season; but with a 5-11 post season record, along with a .894 save % and a goals against of over 3.00, you wonder how long this relationship could last. Price’s career regular season winning percentage is .543 and in the playoffs its .278. There are a lot of factors that go into that record but at the end of the day winning 1 out of every 4 playoff games is just not going to cut it. If Price can get off to a good start and catch lightning in a bottle for the early stretch of the season (Canadiens start the season with 9 of 13 at home) he will be in a strong position to grab one of the three goaltending spots for Steve Yzerman’s Team Canada. There is no doubt that the experience he could gain by playing for team Canada will do wonders for his confidence and help him come playoff time when the games mean so much more. As Price goes, so do the Canadiens. It will be very interesting to see how the first 20 games goes for Carey Price as I believe it will play a large factor in the success of the team and perhaps his development going forward.

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5 Responses to Top 5 Storylines Going into the 2013-2014 Canadiens Season

  1. he Habs are stuck with Price for 3 or 4 more years until Fucale develops. They will dump a salary and Fucale will be the goalie to win a cup

    yoshii August 22, 2013 at 7:52 pm Reply
    • I don’t see how you can say that about Fucale when we have not even seen him at the professional level.

      Michael Gomez August 22, 2013 at 8:34 pm Reply
  2. Good piece and these five names are the ones I would include in a piece like this. Spot on.

    Jared Horner August 29, 2013 at 10:12 am Reply
  3. you don’t know hockey you probably never really played that much or went further than local dud

    you just like this blog gig because it makes you feel important, you must be lacking koodos at the homefront…

    Richard Oberon March 11, 2016 at 8:59 pm Reply
    • This comment is embarrassing.

      Michael Gomez March 12, 2016 at 11:35 am Reply

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