Montreal Canadiens Season Preview

If this team wants to repeat their success from last year, they are going to have to grow internally.

The 2021-22 NHL season is gets started on Wednesday and one of the most interesting teams everyone is keeping an eye on is the Montreal Canadiens. This is a team that came out of nowhere last season and made a run at the Stanley Cup. However, as the new season is just about to get underway, many betting sites don’t have the Habs anywhere near the favorites to win it all this time around. 

Are the Canadiens again being overlooked or was last year just a magical run that won’t be approached this season? Let’s take a closer look.

What Happened Last Year

The Canadiens were down in the dumps early on last season and opted to fire their coach in February, deciding to hire Dominique Ducharme as the new lead man. Montreal then made a flurry of moves a little later at the trade deadline, grabbing Erik Gustafsson, Eric Staal and Jon Merrill. It culminated in their ability to squeak their way into the playoffs with a 24-21-11 overall record but most assumed they’d be first-round fodder. They lined up against the Toronto Maple Leafs rallied back from a 3-1 series deficit to advance onto the next round. They proved they weren’t a fluke as they then swept the Winnipeg Jets and advanced onto the semi-finals against the Vegas Golden Knights. Again, Montreal entered a series as the underdog but it didn’t matter as they edged the Golden Knights in six games. The Game 6 in overtime is a memory many Habs fans will remember for a long time. 

Unfortunately, they were unable to take that final step in their quest for the championship and lost in five games to the Tampa Bay Lightning. While it hurts to be bounced so close to their end goal, the team has to be proud of the way they came out and had proven everybody wrong all postseason.

Offseason Changes

Montreal took a lot of big hits over the offseason. Their team captain, Shea Weber, is reportedly not going to be out on the ice with the team by the beginning of the season due to a number of different injuries. One GM said that his career in the NHL could be over as well. Regardless of the final outcome, Weber not being on the ice is not likely a plus. Weber wasn’t their only loss, though. Montreal lost out on Philip Danault after he signed with the Los Angeles Kings and Jesperi Kotkaniemi as he signed with the Carolina Hurricanes. All they were able to bring back in to help negate the loss was Christian Dvorak, Cedric Paquette and Mathieu Perreault. Each of those guys are talented in their own regards but none have the type of game changing ability that Danault brought to the roster. This team needed more offense but they didn’t get it. As of now, they’re hoping that they can find more internally somehow.


Truth be told, these strengths have to emerge as strengths again if the Habs are to make a run.

As we saw last season, timely goal scoring was key and it again has to be there for this team. The lineup of Mike Hoffman, Nick Suzuki, Josh Anderson and Tyler Toffoli will all provide excellent scoring capabilities. All of them could end up combining for the majority of the teams’ goals in 2021. Goaltending is the other area that has to be a strength. We all got to see the excellence of Carey Price throughout that extended playoff run from a year ago and while he isn’t with the team right now, he is going to have to come back and be fresh for another run at it. Jake Allen didn’t get to play much last season but he performed great when given the opportunity. Now he’ll have to carry the load until Price is back in the fold.


Leadership could be lacking this season on the ice for Montreal. Weber was the team captain and was some of the glue that was keeping this group together. With him gone, somebody else is going to have to step up. Jeff Petry looks to be the right man for the job but we are going to have to wait and see how effective he is at fulfilling this role. The center position could also end up being a potential weakness. Losing Danault has been a huge hit for them and while Nick Suzuki and Dvorak are projected to be the starters filling in, this team need to add to their scoring and not lose everyone.

The other key weakness here is the absence of Price. He’ll rejoin the team at some point but for now, we’re not sure how they’ll perform in net. The good news is that Price was mostly ineffective in the regular season last year before turning back the clock for the playoffs.

Final Outlook

If this team wants to repeat their success from last year, they are going to have to grow internally. The roster needed help as it was last season but it feels like a mostly net neutral offense. Few people are looking at this roster and saying that management addressed the concerns. 

The reality is that the Canadiens are in a really tough division and might have a hard time even making the playoffs. It feels like they went on a magical run last year when everything just clicked in the playoffs. It’s hard to see that happening two years in a row. What’s more likely is that this team either just misses the playoffs or makes the cut, but gets bounced in the first round.