Will the real Montreal Canadiens stand up? They’ve had a rocky ride over the last five seasons, even if they made the playoffs in 2019-20 and 2020-21. However, it’s difficult to see them breaking through the 2022-23 NHL playoffs because they seem to be lagging against teams in the Atlantic Division.
Expectations were low going into this campaign, with a lot of sportsbooks ranking them as amongst the teams with the longest odds in the NHL to contend for the Stanley Cup which perhaps raised a few eyebrows. But as it transpires, these predictions weren’t too far off the pace, with the Canadiens having a fairly disappointing start to the season.
Having said that, the Montreal squad isn’t without talent. Team captain Nick Suzuki is picking up where he left off from an All-Star season, leading the team on points at the start of the year. Kirby Dach and Sean Monahan also contribute to the attack, hitting their fair share of assists.
Cole Caulfield, Mike Matheson, and David Savard are also invaluable players to the Canadiens’ starting rotation, while Sam Montembeault’s save percentage is better than their division standing would suggest, letting in about 2.48 goals per game on average.
The Canadiens won 24 out of the shortened 56-game season due to COVID-19 in 2020-21. However, that was enough to earn them a playoff spot and a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals. Unfortunately, for fans in Montreal, they lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games.
They did not qualify for the playoffs last year as the season reverted to the standard 82 games. The Canadiens won just 22 games and finished eighth in the Atlantic Division.
Despite missing the playoffs in 2021-22, the Canadiens have enjoyed some success over the last decade. They’ve been to the Conference Finals twice and made the postseason in two of their previous three years.
The Canadiens are the only hockey franchise that existed before the NHL’s founding. The team was founded in 1909 and played in the National Hockey Association until 1917. The team joined the NHL that same year and was part of the Original Six that comprised the league from 1942 to 1967.
That period allowed the Canadiens to become one of the dominant franchises in the league. They have won 24 Stanley Cups, the most in NHL history. However, the last one came in 1992-93. The Canadiens also have eight conference championships and 24 division titles.
The Canadiens play home games at the Bell Centre, formerly Molson Centre. It replaced the Montreal Forum when it opened in 1996 and can accommodate up to 21,105 spectators for a hockey game. The team never fails to attract a crowd, as proven by their consistent sold-outs since January 2004. Visitors should expect high noise levels when the home crowd cheers for their beloved Habs.
Likewise, seeing the action won’t be a problem because the seats are steeply sloped to improve the line of sight.
The Canadiens are rivals with their fellow Canada-based squad, the Toronto Maple Leafs. They’ve met a total of 840 times, with Montreal leading the all-time series, 411-329-88-12. That figure also includes Montreal’s 46-32 edge in postseason games. Their last playoff encounter happened in the opening round of the 2021 season, with Montreal edging Toronto in seven games.
They also consider the Buffalo Sabres as their rivals. While this feud has gone quiet as of late, the Canadiens and the Sabres have been involved in over 150 hockey fights.
However, the Boston Bruins are perhaps the Canadiens’ most formidable rivals, and their feud is rich in history. They have met 931 times, and Montreal has the edge in the all-time mark, 469-348-103-11. The Canadiens also have a 106-71 advantage in postseason matchups, with the last series coming in round two of the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs. But as of late, the Bruins hold a seven-game winning streak against the Canadiens.