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30 in 30

Prust, Armstrong fill out Canadiens' bottom six

Thursday, 08.02.2012 / 3:00 AM / 30 in 30

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

Last season was a disaster in La Belle Province. The Montreal Canadiens lost seven of their first eight games, and coach Jacques Martin eventually was replaced by Randy Cunneyworth. Montreal finished last in the Eastern Conference, and it led to sweeping changes in the organization.

Some of the problems in Montreal last season were bad luck. Scott Gomez, Andrei Markov and Brian Gionta -- three of the team's four highest-paid players -- played 82 games combined. The fourth, Mike Cammalleri, was traded to the Calgary Flames.

The Canadiens scored 2.52 goals per game but were incredibly inconsistent. They scored one or zero goals 26 times, and were 0-24-2 in those games. To compare, the Los Angeles Kings scored fewer than two goals 27 times but managed to collect 13 points (3-17-7). Montreal also lost a League-high 12 games in the shootout.

Habs hope changes trigger return to playoffs

Thursday, 08.02.2012 / 3:00 AM / 30 in 30

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

In the last calendar year, the Montreal Canadiens have dealt with more hardships, turmoil, and upheaval than perhaps any other 12-month period in the organization's long and successful history.

Since August of 2011, the Canadiens waved goodbye to two head coaches (Jacques Martin and Randy Cunneyworth), a general manager (Pierre Gauthier), a former playoff hero (Michael Cammalleri), two veteran defensemen (Hal Gill and Jaroslav Spacek), an underachieving, yet talented forward (Andrei Kostitsyn) and – most importantly – the team's four-year streak of playoff appearances.

In just a two-year span, the Canadiens went from being one of the final four teams left in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs to finishing last in their conference for the first time in franchise history.

Galchenyuk leads Habs' list of top 10 prospects

Thursday, 08.02.2012 / 3:00 AM / 30 in 30

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

It wasn't so long ago that the Montreal Canadiens had one of the deepest prospect pools in the NHL.

Over the last few years, however, the Habs have consistently been on the playoff bubble come trade deadline time, leading the team to trade away valuable draft picks for immediate help that ultimately led to spots in the postseason.

The result was that the Canadiens did not pick in the both the first and second rounds for four straight years leading into the 2012 NHL Draft, holding just seven picks in the first three rounds over that four-year span.

Habs need Bourque to regain scoring touch

Thursday, 08.02.2012 / 3:00 AM / 30 in 30

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

The Montreal Canadiens will enter training camp for the 2012-13 season with a glaring hole among their top six forwards, one the team hopes can be filled internally.

There aren’t too many candidates to fill the need for a fourth scoring option on the wing, but if Rene Bourque can get back to being the player who scored 27 goals in back-to-back seasons with the Calgary Flames, he would fit the bill quite nicely.

Bourque scored just five goals in 38 games after he was acquired by the Canadiens in exchange for proven goal-scorer and playoff performer Michael Cammalleri – a trade finalized during the second intermission of a Jan. 12 Habs game in Boston.

Markov, young stars among six questions facing Habs

Thursday, 08.02.2012 / 3:00 AM / 30 in 30

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

The Montreal Canadiens are coming off one of the worst seasons in franchise history, and that alone would suggest the questions facing this club for the upcoming season are numerous.

But with a new general manager in Marc Bergevin, a vastly revamped front office and a new coaching staff led by Michel Therrien, the potential for questions grows exponentially.

Narrowing that list is no easy task, but here are the top six of what is a long list of questions the Canadiens face heading into the 2012-13 season.

1) Can Andrei Markov still be the Andrei Markov of old?

No player among the Montreal Canadiens' skaters is as important to the team's success as Markov.

Firstly, re-inserting Markov as the team's No. 1 defenseman has a ripple effect on the remainder of the defense. P.K. Subban would no longer be leaned on as hard to both shut down the opposition's top forwards and also produce offensively, perhaps allowing him some latitude to further exploit his exceptional offensive gifts. Tomas Kaberle would become a third pairing defender and second power-play unit quarterback, which makes him a luxury.

Zubrus, Clarkson could move to Devils' top line

Wednesday, 08.01.2012 / 3:00 AM / 30 in 30

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

The 2011-12 regular season had some highlights for the New Jersey Devils -- Ilya Kovalchuk settled in and rebounded after a disappointing start to his tenure with the team, Adam Henrique became a Calder Trophy candidate, David Clarkson reached 30 goals -- but the campaign obviously will be remembered for what happened in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

New Jersey finished fourth in the Atlantic Division but rolled past two archrivals -- the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers -- to reach the Stanley Cup Final for the fifth time in 17 years. Though defeating the Rangers to reach the Final was cathartic for some longtime Devils fans, a fourth championship did not follow. New Jersey became the last of four teams to be steamrolled by the Los Angeles Kings en route to their improbable title.

It was a great year for the Devils, but the offseason brought tense times. Nearly everyone, including franchise icon Martin Brodeur, was retained, but the most important free agent, captain Zach Parise, left for the Minnesota Wild and a 13-year, $98 million contract.

Devils' top 10 prospects led by Merrill, defense

Wednesday, 08.01.2012 / 3:00 AM / 30 in 30

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

The last time the Devils were forced to dip into their prospect pool in earnest was just last season, when center Travis Zajac suffered a left Achilles tendon injury during an offseason workout. That opened a window of opportunity for Adam Henrique.

The 22-year-old native of Brantford, Ont., took full advantage, leading all NHL rookies with 35 assists and finishing third with 51 points en route to becoming a finalist for the Calder Trophy as the League's rookie of the year. The Devils always have taken a slow approach to grooming their young players, although defenseman Adam Larsson, the fourth pick of the 2011 draft, was thrust into the spotlight last season and performed admirably on defense.

It appears as though the Devils' pipeline currently is loaded with quality defensemen and goalies, but there also were several forwards who impressed during July's development camp at AmeriHealth Pavilion in Newark, N.J.

How to replace Parise one of Devils' six questions

Wednesday, 08.01.2012 / 3:00 AM / 30 in 30

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

The New Jersey Devils came two victories short of winning the fourth Stanley Cup in franchise history last season, but a key member of that run no longer is with the organization.

How the club overcomes the loss of Zach Parise via free agency certainly will go a long way in predicting their playoff fortunes. While it may be the million-dollar question, it's one coach Peter DeBoer doesn't seem too concerned about. The second-year coach is confident his club can overcome the departure of last season's captain and, in the process, build upon last season's success.

"[Parise] was obviously an important part of our team, but this League allows you to feel sorry for yourself for about two minutes and then you have to pick yourself up and come up with a plan moving forward," DeBoer said. "I think that's where we're at now … moving forward."

Healthy Zajac ready to contribute for Devils

Wednesday, 08.01.2012 / 3:00 AM / 30 in 30

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

New Jersey Devils fans must be relieved when they think about how much better off their team will be with its No. 1 center, Travis Zajac, in the lineup for a full season.

Zajac missed 67 regular-season games and the team still qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. There's no question having the 6-foot-3, 200-pounder in the lineup from the get-go will go a long way in helping the Devils not only qualify, but potentially solidify home-ice advantage in the opening rounds. As the sixth seed last spring, the Devils were forced to win their opening three rounds in the Eastern Conference without the benefit of home-ice advantage.

Devils set to begin life without Zach Parise

Wednesday, 08.01.2012 / 3:00 AM / 30 in 30

Brendan Shanahan - Special to NHL.com

The New Jersey Devils have certainly had a busy offseason after giving their fans plenty to cheer about during the 2011-12 regular season and Stanley Cup Playoffs.

First and foremost, captain Zach Parise departed for a 13-year, $98 million contract with the Minnesota Wild on July 4. While the departure of one of the most respected players in team history was a tough pill to swallow, Devils coach Peter DeBoer is confident his team will persevere.

"We have to," DeBoer said. "I think the thing we've shown last year and even in prior years here is this program is bigger than individual people, and we found a way over the years to fill holes."

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