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Team Reset

Montreal Canadiens season snapshot

Struggles at home, inconsistent play has team on outside of playoff race

by Jon Lane @JonLaneNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

With the NHL pausing the 2019-20 regular season on March 12 due to the concerns surrounding the coronavirus, NHL.com is taking stock of each of the League's 31 teams.

Today, a snapshot of the Montreal Canadiens at the pause:

 

Montreal Canadiens 

Record: 31-31-9, 71 points

Playoff position: 10 points behind Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets for first wild card into Stanley Cup Playoffs from Eastern Conference

Despite an inconsistent season, optimism was high around the Canadiens leading up to the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline on Feb. 24. Following a 2-1 overtime win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 8, Montreal's third straight and fifth in six games, it appeared the Canadiens were on course to make a run at the Stanley Cup Playoffs, sitting six points behind the Carolina Hurricanes and Philadelphia Flyers for the second wild card from the Eastern Conference. 

That optimism disappeared after Montreal lost its next five games and 10 of 14 (4-8-2) entering the pause, increasing the likelihood of missing the playoffs for a third consecutive season.

Turnovers have been an issue for the Canadiens, who committed 807, third most in the NHL behind the New York Islanders (896) and New York Rangers (827). Montreal was 14-17-6 at Bell Centre -- the 34 points at home second fewest in the NHL, ahead of only the Detroit Red Wings (26) -- and it lost an NHL-high six games when leading after the second period. 

Veteran forwards Ilya Kovalchuk, Nate Thompson, and Nick Cousins, and defenseman Marco Scandella were traded before the deadline, leaving the Canadiens in a state of flux and wondering who will join 20-year-old rookie forward Nick Suzuki to lead the next generation.

 

More Canadiens season snapshot coverage: Awards | Fantasy honors | Memorable moments

 

Breakout player

Joel Armia: He was viewed as a depth forward when he was acquired by the Canadiens in a trade with the Winnipeg Jets on June 30, 2018. However, Armia, who was selected by the Buffalo Sabres with the No. 16 pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, signed a two-year contract one year later after he scored an NHL career-high 13 goals in 57 games in 2018-19. He raised his game even higher this season with 16 goals and a career-high 30 points in 58 games.

Video: Top 10 Canadiens Plays ... Thus Far

 

Statement win

Canadiens 2, Maple Leafs 1, Feb. 8: The Canadiens held the Maple Leafs to one shot in the third period, a goal by John Tavares that gave Toronto a 1-0 lead. Scandella tied it 1-1 with 2:33 left in the third, his only goal in 20 games for the Canadiens, and Kovalchuk won it at 1:43 of overtime to give Montreal its ninth win in 12 games. 

Video: Kovalchuk's OT goal lifts Canadiens past Maple Leafs

 

Most compelling game

Rangers 6, Canadiens 5, Nov. 23: The Canadiens were 11-6-5 and third in the Atlantic Division but had lost three straight. Montreal took a 4-0 lead early in the second period before New York scored three times in a span of 3:20 to make it 4-3 entering the third period. Artturi Lehkonen scored his second goal of the game at 5:20 to put Montreal ahead 5-3, but the Canadiens allowed the next three goals, including a shorthanded goal to tie it 5-5, to continue what would become an eight-game skid (0-5-3).

Video: NYR@MTL: Lehkonen snaps home wrister from the slot

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