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The Montreal Canadiens can win the Stanley Cup this year. Yes, we said it, and we’re prepared to back that statement up with concrete reasons as to why they can go all the way and finally end years of Playoff pain by bringing a championship back to Montreal for the first time since the 1992-93 season.
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That is a long, long time without postseason success for any team, but it is an absolute eternity for a storied franchise such as the Montreal Canadiens who boast a rich history and are one of the most renowned brands in all of sports. They haven’t made it past the First Round since the 2014-15 season and they’ve consistently punched well below their weight class.
So, why will it be different this year? Well, for starters, General Manager Marc Bergevin seriously retooled and upgraded this roster during the offseason, making this team bigger, stronger and faster while adding depth up and down the lineup. He signed a legit scoring punch in Tyler Toffoli in Free Agency, while the young prospects he either drafted and developed or acquired in trades are on the cusp of taking that next giant leap.
It has resulted in an impressive start to the 2020-21 season with the Canadiens 7-2-2 on the year, ranking first in the NHL in Goals For Per Game (4.18) and eighth in Goals Against Per Game (2.64). Yes, they dropped a tough one to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night but, that blemish aside, they have looked every inch an absolute juggernaut so far this year and they are built to win. So, without further ado, Inside The Box is going to delve into the precise reasons as to why the Montreal Canadiens can win the Stanley Cup this season.
Why The Montreal Canadiens can win the Stanley Cup in 2020-21
They have elite goaltending
Everyone who follows hockey knows that, in order to be a legit contender and to win the greatest prize in all of sports, you have to have elite and reliable goaltending and the Montreal Canadiens certainly have that in Carey Price who, while he may not quite be the same player he was in his prime, he’s still a high-end goalie in the NHL and he’s more than capable of backstopping a team to a championship.
Price has been pretty solid to start the 2020-21 season with a 4-1-2 record to go along with a 2.81 Goals Against Average and a .899 Save Percentage, and he should only improve and get better the longer the season goes on. And, there’s also not as much pressure on Price during the regular-season given that he now has a more than reliable backup in Jake Allen, who was acquired in a trade from the St. Louis Blues during the offseason.
Allen can still be a decent starter in the NHL and he’s off to a good start in Montreal with a 2.02 GAA and a .930 SV%, and he will be able to split the load with Price in a shortened 56-game season in order to ensure that the latter is as fresh as possible for the postseason. Plus, Allen has proved time and time again that he can come in and perform in key moments so he could be hugely important in the Stanley Cup Playoffs too, and the fact that the Montreal Canadiens now boast one of the best goaltending tandems in the National Hockey League should give them every chance to embark on a deep run and compete for the Stanley Cup this year.
They pack one hell of an offensive punch
Currently ranked first in the NHL in Goals For Per Game, averaging 4.18 goals a game, the Montreal Canadiens can light the lamp at a deadly rate and they boast an abundance of firepower up and down the lineup, possessing the kind of secondary scoring and depth scoring that any contender needs in order to go all the way.
Tyler Toffoli, who was signed to a four-year, $17 million contract in the offseason, has been a perfect fit in Montreal so far and is off to a hot-start with 13 points (9 G, 4 A) in 11 games, providing a real potent scoring punch from the third-line. The Canadiens lacked a scoring threat from off the wall and they now have that in Toffoli, who also brings speed, skill and creativity to the table.
Defenseman Jeff Petry has also been a major offensive contributor with five goals and eight assists for 13 points in 11 games, providing the kind of contribution from the blueline that any contender needs, while Josh Anderson, who was acquired in a trade from the Columbus Blue Jackets during the offseason, has chipped in with nine points (7 G, 2 A) and high-end stud Nick Suzuki has three goals and eight assists for 11 points. Basically, players up and down the lineup have come in and contributed at key moments, meaning that there isn’t as much pressure on the top-line to carry this team given that all four lines can provide offense.
Currently boasting an Expected Goals For of 13.1, way above the league average, and with 51 High-Danger Chances for so far, the Montreal Canadiens are an incredibly dangerous team in the offensive zone and they can score in a number of different ways, which is the key here. And, the scary thing for the rest of the NHL is the fact that the likes of Phillip Danault will likely only hit their stride soon while this fast-paced, heavy metal style of hockey is just built to produce offense. And lots of it.
They are loaded with depth
There is depth and there is quality depth and the Montreal Canadiens certainly have plenty of the latter. Not only did GM Marc Bergevin significantly upgrade this roster with some big additions during the offseason, but he also added some-much needed depth to this roster from Jake Allen between the pipes to Joel Edmundson on the backend and grizzled veteran Corey Perry, who can provide toughness and secondary scoring in a bottom-six forward role.
Both Perry and Michael Frolik are currently on the Canadiens’ Taxi Squad at the moment, which illustrates perfectly the depth on this roster with the likes of Jake Evans stepping up and playing a key role for this team. Couple that with the emergence of rookie defenseman Alexander Romanov, who looks at home on the backend, and the continued development of studs in the ilk of Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi, then this is arguably the most loaded lineup in the North Division, and one of the most stacked rosters in the entire NHL.
Bergevin has also done an outstanding job of adding young and exciting pieces to a core that can still compete with the likes of Shea Weber, Jeff Petry, Brendan Gallagher and Jonathan Drouin all huge parts of this franchise and all making huge contributions so far in 2020-21. So, overall, those are just some of the reasons as to why the Montreal Canadiens could win a Stanley Cup this year and the 2020-21 could be their best opportunity in years to finally end their lengthy-championship drought given that they seemingly now have all the pieces in place.
On yesterday’s Inside The Box we looked at why the Edmonton Oilers owe it to their stars to finally rectify a fatal flaw.