In what was suppose to be a rebuilding season for the Montreal Canadiens in a lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, the Canadiens with first-year coach Michel Therrien surprised many and including probably themselves by winning the now defunct Northeast Division, and being the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference with 63 points. While the regular season went better than expected, the playoff run was disappointing and short-lived as they lost to the Ottawa Senators in five games in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Now entering the 2013-14 season, the Canadiens are a young team who one should reasonably assume will get better individually and as a collective unit as they retain a core group of players who should be ready to take that next step this season. The Canadiens did not lose any key players from last season’s squad as they only lost Michael Ryder, Yannick Weber and Frederic St. Denis to free agency, while the bringing in Daniel Briere via FA and George Parros in a trade as their main offseason acquisitions to provide some veteran leadership and presence to a young team.
Looking at the Canadiens’ schedule, it sets up early for them to be able to get off to a fast start as they play eight of their first 13 games at home. This includes a five-game stretch of home games to be played between Oct. 17-26. In the middle of the season, the Canadiens play eight road games in the month of December with a five-game road trip between Dec. 19-31. As the Canadiens close out the season, they play five games in conference with the lone non-conference game being against the Chicago Blackhawks on April 9.
With the Canadiens schedule in mind and looking at the type of team they possibly can end up being, this is a team in which could end up winning between 47-55 games. They have the talent in each line to be able to accomplish winning at least two-thirds of their games this upcoming season.
The Canadiens now find themselves in the newly created Atlantic Division where the teams whom they will be competing for the top spot of the division are the Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings. In the end, I see the Canadiens finishing at best with a record of 48-24-10 which would give them 106 points, assuming they play as well as they did last season and progress accordingly as a team.