The Montreal Canadiens relied on steady defense and consistent goaltending as they recorded 29 wins, won the Northeast Division and started the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs as the second seed. They now find their season over, after dropping their first round series 4-1 to the Ottawa Senators, as their defense and goaltending fell apart when the stakes were the highest.
Star goaltender Carey Price’s history of following up a great regular season with a disappointing postseason continued, as he finished the series with a 3.26 goals-against average and a .984 save percentage. When Price went down with a mysterious injury in game four, backup Peter Budaj was forced into action. He would fare no better, and was victimized six times by the Senators in game five. Budaj finished the series with an 0-2 record, 6.72 goals-against average and .774 save percentage. Those are discouraging numbers for the Canadiens, after they signed Budaj to a two-year deal following a 2013 season that saw him post an 8-1-1 record.
Price is now 9-17 in his career in the playoffs, not exactly a confidence-boosting mark for the Canadiens. His career regular season goals-against is 2.56, but in the playoffs he has allowed just under three goals per game on average. The Canadiens know that Price gives them a great body of work in the regular season, but they still need to see him elevate his game in the playoffs at some point in his career.
Every Canadiens defenseman finished the series with a negative mark in plus/minus, and after having a huge impact on the offensive end during the regular season only P.K. Subban was able to continue that success. Subban’s two goals and four points were second on the team, but Andrei Markov managed just one assist. Blaming goaltending or defense alone isn’t fair either, as the Canadiens forwards didn’t exactly help out. Only Brendan Gallagher and Rene Bourque managed more than one goal in the five-game series, and Tomas Plekanec led the team with four points.
Another early playoff exit will leave the Canadiens with many questions in the offseason, as a very promising regular season ultimately didn’t lead to playoff success.