Eastern preview: Habs added needed punch

Eastern preview: Habs added needed punch
September 2, 2013, 9:00 am
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MONTREAL CANADIENS

2012-13: 29-14-5, 63 points

Where they finished: 1st in the Northeast; 2nd in the East; 4th in the NHL

Coach: Michel Therrien (2nd season)

Key additions: C Danny Briere, RW George Parros, D Douglas Murray

Key subtractions: RW Colby Armstrong, RW Michael Ryder, D Tomas Kaberle, D Yannick Weber

Projected Lineup

Forwards

Max Pacioretty – Tomas Plekanec – Brian Gionta

Alex Galchenyuk – Danny Briere – Brendan Gallagher

Rene Bourque - David Desharnais –Michael Blunden

Brandon Prust – Lars Eller – George Parros

Defense

P.K. Subban – Andrei Markov

Raphael Diaz – Alexei Emelin

Josh Gorges - Douglas Murray

Goaltenders

Carey Price – Peter Budaj

Our take: Under first-year head coach Michel Therrien the Canadiens were lights out in last year’s lockout-shortened season but flared out in a five-game playoff loss to the Senators. The Habs added a playmaking center with the free-agent signing of Danny Briere, but he’ll need to prove he is completely recovered from the concussion that plagued him last season in Philadelphia.

Montreal also added a physical force and locker room leader in George Parros, giving the Habs a frightening fourth line along with agitator Brandon Prust and center Lars Eller. There is a lack of defensive depth, but if Calder Trophy runner-up Brendan Gallagher can build off his strong rookie season and goaltender Carey Price continues on the upswing the Habs again will be in the hunt for a division title in the new Atlantic Division.

Offseason Grade:  B

Will they make the playoffs in 2013-14:  Yes.