At times this season, the Montreal Canadiens looked to be primed as ever to emerge from the Eastern Conference and make their first Stanley Cup final appearance since 1993. Rolling into the postseason as a No. 2 seed, the Habs were presented with a great chance to announce their ascension in drawing the Ottawa Senators, who have mostly dwarfed their Canadian neighbor’s accomplishments in the 21st century.
However, the Habs would fall short of the second round for the third consecutive year as the Sens claimed country bragging rights by pulling the 7-over-2-seed upset in just five games.
Practically every phase of play failed the Canadiens as they fell short of their 3.04 goals-per-game average — good for fourth during the NHL regular season — in each of the five contests. Both the defensive side and goaltending unraveled as well, particularly during the 6-1 loss that concluded the first-round series.
At the very least, at least Habs fans can see whether young defenseman P.K. Subban will take home Norris Trophy hardware in the coming weeks. Subban presents one of the key young components that could help this club take another step forward next season. The Norris Trophy finalist just turned 24 this week.
Also, not to make excuses, but this recent squad wasn’t the same Montreal team that showed so much promise in 2013. The way injury struck starting goaltender Carey Price, captain Brian Gionta and center Lars Eller along with Brandon Prust and Ryan White is just an unfortunate break, and even the Canadiens would attest to that in stopping short of blaming it.
“In the last two weeks we had a lot of bad luck,” Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said, via NHL.com. “But for us and my approach with the team and their approach since day one, that was not an excuse. I don’t think the players, with their attitudes, used that as an excuse because every game, the way they were preparing themselves, the way they started the game, I could tell that was not an excuse.”