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Habs hitting their stride, just at the right time

HKN Canadiens Senators

Montreal Canadiens’ Andrei Markov, left to right, Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais celebrate a third period goal against the Ottawa Senators during NHL hockey action in Ottawa on Friday, April 4, 2014. Pacioretty scored a hat-trick helping the Canadiens defeated the Senators 7-4. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Sean Kilpatrick)


In Carey Price, they’ve got one of the best goalies in the game. In P.K. Subban, they’ve got the reigning Norris Trophy winner. They added a dangerous winger at the deadline, in Thomas Vanek, to go with the dangerous winger they already had, in Max Pacioretty. And since the middle of March, they’ve won 10 of 13.

We are, of course, talking about the Montreal Canadiens. Or, as they’re known in Canada, the team that made the playoffs.

“The way they’re playing right now...this is a team that can challenge for a Stanley Cup,” said Islanders coach Jack Capuano, whose club will take on the Habs tonight.

Montreal is set to face Tampa Bay in the first round of the playoffs, probably with home-ice advantage. Beat the Lightning, who could be without goalie Ben Bishop for that series, and another battle with their historical rivals from Boston -- a team they’ve already beaten three times this season -- could be next.

Not to suggest the Habs don’t have their issues. Five on five, they’ve been mediocre or worse much of the season. On Price, they’ve been overly reliant at times.

But there’s no question they’ve been trending in the right direction.

Which is to say, there’s legitimate hope for Canada’s only hope.