Freeze … Don’t Move … Stop – I like the standings the way they are!
The way it looks right now, Montreal would finish in seventh place and would play the second place Washington Capitals. This is the one matchup that Montreal can take advantage of.
They wouldn’t beat the Devils in the first round. Their scorers are too good, their checkers can cause major headaches for the new Tanguay – Koivu – Kovalev line and their defense is too suffocating. Oh, and they also have the best goalie in the world.
They won’t beat the Bruins either. My favorite argument was when I asked someone to justify why the Habs can beat the Bruins, he said “because they always do!”. Sorry, that’s not good enough for me. First of all, when Markov-Komisarek matchup against Savard and Kessel, you know that Claude Julien will be putting Lucic on the left wing to wreak havoc on Komisarek. Not to mention, the Candiens top line will have to face Chara and Wideman! Unfortunately, the rest of the Canadiens defense is not deep enough to contain the rest of their top 9 forwards, which includes Wheeler, Ryder, Krejci, Bergeron, Kobasew and Axelsson. That list of Bruins’ top 9 forwards includes six 20-goal scorers. In case you were going to pull out the special teams argument, Boston has a better PK and PP this year.
The Washington Capitals, however, can be beaten. On offense, it’s really all about one line; Ovechkin-Backstrom-Semin. The rest of their forwards are good, but not good enough to change a series. The hope is that Markov and Komisarek handle those guys in a seven game series. The weaknesses of the Canadiens will not be exploited in this series. The Habs have poor depth on defense, but the Capitals are not deep enough offensively like the Bruins or Devils are, to take advantage of that. Montreal also tends to struggle against good defensive teams, because they too, are not exceptionally deep offensively. Washington’s defensemen are better offensively than they are defensively, meaning a shutdown tandem against the Habs top guns won’t be as effective as it would be if they were facing Zdeno Chara or Paul Martin. Mike Green is amazing and is one of my favorite D in the NHL, but he isn’t exactly dominant in his own zone. Last but not least, how can a team be confident with Jose Theodore in net? He is not even close to the caliber of Brodeur or Tim Thomas. The truth is that even though the Caps have 101 points through 77 games; they play in a very weak division, arguably the weakest in the NHL. At the end of the day, Washington’s bread and butter is there powerplay, and if Montreal can win the special teams matchup, they can win the series.
Mark my words; Montreal will beat Washington in 6.
About the Author
Written by Corey Krakower
I am the Director of NHL Content & Habs writer for ProSportsBlogging.com; I have spent 8 seasons behind the bench as a minor hockey coach; and I am the future GM of the Montreal Canadiens (according to my mom). I spend my days managing the Harrow Sports brand in my hometown of Montreal and I moonlight as a Hockey Advisor for Pi Athlete Management. Most importantly, I'll throw anyone under the bus for a laugh.