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2016-17 NHL Season Preview: Montreal Canadiens

2016-17 NHL Season Preview: Montreal Canadiens

It still feels like the season just ended, but with the draft and free agency already behind us, it's time to look forward to the 2016-17 season. We will preview every team in the NHL throughout August and take a look at what the new season may hold.

Team: Montreal Canadiens

How they did last season: 38-38-6 (82 points), 6th in the Atlantic, 13th in the Eastern Conference. Did not make the playoffs.

Notable acquisitions: G Al Montoya, RW Alexander Radulov, D Shea Weber, F Andrew Shaw

Notable departures: D Tom Gilbert, C Lars Eller, D P.K. Subban

When they will play the Caps: Dec. 17 in Washington; Jan. 9 in Montreal; Feb. 4 in Montreal


Analysis: The 2015-16 season for the Montreal Canadiens proved a cautionary tale for teams that build almost exclusively around a single player. When that player goes down, you’re in trouble.

Montreal finished with the second best record in the NHL in 2014-15, but did not make the playoffs the following year as an MCL injury limited star netminder Carey Price to just 12 starts. He was 10-2 in those games. Without him, the Canadiens were 28-36-6.

So what was general manager Marc Bergevin’s solution this summer? To fix the locker room by trading away P.K. Subban for Shea Weber.

I wrote about this in the season preview for the Nashville Predators, but the trade was a bad one for Montreal. Even if you’re not a Subban fan or think both he and the Canadiens are better off turning the page, Montreal didn’t get close to equal value by trading away a superstar in his prime for a 30-year-old with 10 years remaining on his contract. Plus, all that talk about fixing the locker room rings hollow when you turn around and sign a player like Alexander Radulov, a player who causes headaches wherever he goes.

That’s not to say signing Radulov won’t work out — the Canadiens are in desperate need of a pure goalscorer — but the timing of it all seemed curious.

In addition to Subban, the Canadiens also traded away Lars Eller, a very talented player who was horribly mismanaged by head coach Michel Therrien. Considering all the times Therrien has been critical of Subban in the past, trading away Subban and Eller may have more to do with the head coach than it does with either player.

Season prediction: The acquisitions of Radulov and Andrew Shaw should bolster what has been an inconsistent offense for Montreal, but it’s hard to know exactly what the effect of losing a player like Subban will be to the offense. Plus, Radulov has the potential to be a total flop. The Canadiens tried a similar move when they signed Alexander Semin last year and he managed only four points in 15 games before the team finally pulled the plug.

Weber still has a few good years left in him and should be a good fit for Therrien’s system but everything still revolves around Price. As he goes, so goes Montreal.

Is the team in front of Price better? Considering Radulov and the loss of Subban will be such wild cards, it’s too soon to tell. Even if it is, however, it won’t be enough to take the weight off of Price’s shoulders.

If Price is healthy again, Montreal is easily a playoff team, but still likely too one-dimensional to challenge for the Stanley Cup. If not, Therrien lacks the flexibility and creativity to adjust his roster and the Canadiens will most likely miss out on the postseason again.

It all depends on Price.



Pacific Division
— Anaheim Ducks
— Arizona Coyotes
— Calgary Flames
— Edmonton Oilers
— Los Angeles Kings
— San Jose Sharks
— Vancouver Canucks

Central Division
— Chicago Blackhawks
— Colorado Avalanche
— Dallas Stars
— Minnesota Wild
— Nashville Predators
— St. Louis Blues
— Winnipeg Jets

Atlantic Division
— Boston Bruins
— Buffalo Sabres
Detroit Red Wings
Florida Panthers
— Ottawa Senators (coming Aug. 20)
— Tampa Bay Lightning (coming Aug. 21)
— Toronto Maple Leafs (coming Aug. 22)

Metropolitan Division
— Carolina Hurricanes (coming Aug. 23)
— Columbus Blue Jackets (coming Aug. 24)
— New Jersey Devils (coming Aug. 25)
— New York Islanders (coming Aug. 26)
— New York Rangers (coming Aug. 27)
— Philadelphia Flyers (coming Aug. 28)
— Pittsburgh Penguins (coming Aug. 29)
— Washington Capitals (coming soon)

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3 stars of the game: A lethargic loss in Philadelphia


3 stars of the game: A lethargic loss in Philadelphia

Playing three games in four days takes a toll on even the fittest athletes, and it was their sluggish start that doomed the Capitals in a 6-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. 

After being noncomittal about his starting goalie all weekend, Coach Barry Trotz put Philipp Grubauer in net. Grubauer ended up making 29 saves on 34 shots. Offensively, the Caps got goals from Alex Ovechkin, Chandler Stephenson, and John Carlson. Carlson's third period goal cut the Flyers' lead to two with a little over three minutes to go, but a Jakub Voracek empty-netter a few moments later was the nail in the coffin. 

Here are your three stars from the game: 

1. Travis Boyd had the play of the game for the Capitals. Boyd carried the puck into the Flyer's zone, cut through multiple defenders and fired a slick shot to a streaking Ovechkin, who burried the puck in the back of the net. Check it out: 

Not only was the play nice on its own, but it was Boyd's first NHL point. Not a bad way to get it. 

2. Shayne Gostisbehere​ got the Flyers going with his goal in the first period. The defenseman had one goal on five shots along with being an intimidating force in the defensive zone. After going six weeks without scoring, today's goal was Gostisbehere's second goal in three games. 

3. Wayne Simmonds was the best offensive player on the ice on Sunday, scoring twice - both in the final period. It was the 22nd and 23rd goals of the season for the 29-year-old winger. It was also the first multi-goal game for Simmonds since Opening Night, when he had two against San Jose. 

The Caps hit the ice next on Tuesday, when they welcome the Dallas Stars to the Capital One Center. 

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Game 72 Capitals at Flyers Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

Game 72 Capitals at Flyers Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Philadelphia Flyers

Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pa.

When: 5:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Flyers will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Flyers game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.


The Capitals (41-23-7) take on the Flyers (36-25-11) Sunday, March 18 at 5:00 p.m. ET in Philadelphia.


The Capitals-Flyers game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

4:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
4:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
5:00 p.m. — Capitals at Flyers
7:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
8:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
9:00 p.m. — Caps in 30


The Capitals-Flyers game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.


Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.