Five Most Important Players For Montreal Canadiens

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Five Most Important Players For Montreal Canadiens

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The Montreal Canadiens are the second seed and second favorite in the Eastern Conference. With a 29-14-5 record in the strike shortened 2013 campaign, the Canadiens played consistently throughout the year. Their 3.04 goals scored average and 2.55 goals allowed average were good for third and sixth in the Eastern Conference, respectively.

Though they dropped game one – and lost home ice advantage – to the Ottawa Senators, the Canadiens are a strong road team and are still well-positioned for a long playoff run. Their biggest fear, besides getting through this first round series, is their eventual run-in with the number one seeded Pittsburgh Penguins. The Canadiens went 0-3 versus the Penguins this year, allowing a total of 14 goals in those three games. While the Penguins have shown their potent goal scoring ability early and often this season, the Canadiens will either need their scorers or goaltending to show up in elite form if they intend to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Canadiens’ five most important players represent the diverse skills and production they will need if they are to make such a run. Their leading goal scorer, leading assist man, leader in points, leader in time on ice, and goaltender will all need to be strong and consistent in order to come from behind in round one and make an extended run into the early summer. As the NHL playoffs tend to consist of a number of close games, here are the top five most important players for the Montreal Canadiens in the NHL's postseason.

Gabe Isaacson is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter: @gabeisaacson.

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5. P.K. Subban

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Subban is one of the Canadiens' two most pivotal defensemen. Leading the team in both assists and power play points, the Canadiens will need Subban to continue setting up goal scoring opportunities in the postseason. Additionally, his 57 PIM make him a pivotal piece of the Canadiens' toughness that they'll need to enforce their will against tough opponents.

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4. Max Pacioretty

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Pacioretty led the Canadiens in shots. Though he was the leader in points - and not goals - his ability to be a major contributor to goal scoring through goals, passes and generated rebounds, will be pivotal this postseason. Though they will hope that goaltender Carey Price can keep them in all games, there will be times that they'll rely on Pacioretty to generate offensive chances.

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3. Andrei Markov

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Markov will be Carey Price's best friend. Leading the Canadiens in average time on ice - with 24:08 per game - his leadership and ability at both ends of the ice will be crucial. With 23 of Markov's 30 points coming on the power play, he'll be a huge piece towards their ability to capitalize with the man advantage.

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2. Michael Ryder

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Michael Ryder led the Canadiens with 16 goals. Though the NHL playoffs are characterized often by hot goaltending, in an Eastern Conference with the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Canadiens will need to put the puck in the net. Coming in third in the East in goals per game, the Canadiens will need Ryder to continue his regular season production.

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1. Carey Price

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Playoffs come down to goaltending. Always. There are few hard and fast rules in sports, but the NHL playoffs are nearly always decided by a hot netminder. Price was very strong but inconsistent in the regular season. The Canadiens will need him to be at his best for the entirety of their playoff run if they want to return the Stanley Cup north of the border.

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