After falling to Toronto in a shootout last night, the Montreal Canadiens have now played 72 of their 82 games and are still comfortably in a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Their 36-29-7 record which equates to 79 points has them tied with Ottawa and Philadelphia for the #5 seed, with Philly having 1 game in hand, and Ottawa having more wins. With 10 games remaining, there are 2 burning questions that the team has to have answers for by the time playoff roll around.
What does the lineup look like when Cammalleri and Bergeron return?
My take – normally I wouldn’t be so quick to say that the Habs desperately need Bergeron back, but after watching their PP struggle in his absence, the Habs desperately need Bergeron back! Begeron will likely be used on the fourth line as a forward and on the point on the PP. Mike Cammalleri naturally steps right back in as the #1 LW on the depth chart. Here’s my projected lineup:
Cammalleri – Plekanec – A. Kostitsyn
Pouliot – Gomez – Gionta
Moen – Moore – S. Kostitsyn
Bergeron – Metropolit – Lapierre
Scratches : Pyatt, Darche
The defense will remain the same. However, if, and that’s a big IF, the PP continues to struggle, it would not surprise me to see the Habs call up PK Subban to play a regular shift in the playoffs.
Who’s the #1 goalie?
My take – Halak has outplayed Price this year and right now he is the #1, despite a below average performance in Toronto. He has been stellar since the Olympic break and deserves a ton of credit for where the team is today. But, things can change very quickly in the NHL. Monday night’s game featuring the Sens and the Habs will be Price’s last chance this year to step up and “Carey” the team. If Carey Price starts (and no one ever knows with Jacques Martin) and delivers on Monday, he will have a chance in the final 10 games to re-assert himself as #1. If he crumbles, then I believe the net will belong to Halak for the rest of the year and for the start of playoffs, assuming at this point that they’ll make it to the postseason.
Keep an eye on the Habs this week. With 2 impact players returning, the possible resolution to this year long goalie controversy and a PP that is expected to improve ASAP; there could be major lineup changes at every position over the next 10 games.
GO HABS GO!
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.