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Prust, Armstrong fill out Canadiens' bottom six

by Corey Masisak

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.

2012-13 Canadiens Fantasy Team Preview

Under-valued: Carey Price - Despite a sub-500 record, Price still delivered with a 2.43 GAA, .916 SV%, four shutouts and is the backbone of the Canadiens -- look for him to return to his 2010-11 winning ways.

Over-valued: Tomas Plekanec -
Production dipped for a third straight season, to just 17 goals and 52 points to go along with a career-worst minus-15. Use caution when drafting him.

Sleeper: Andrei Markov - Hasn't appeared in more than 45 games since 2008-09, but if he can stay healthy, the 33-year-old's history shows he can be productive from the blue line.

-- Matt Cubeta

New general manager Marc Bergevin added some depth and a new (sort of) coach, Michel Therrien. The Canadiens will need more from their top players this season, and that starts with better health. With strong play from goalie Carey Price and some better luck, it could be a quick turnaround.

Here's what the Canadiens' lineup could look like on opening night:


Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Erik Cole

Rene Bourque - Tomas Plekanec - Brian Gionta

Travis Moen - Lars Eller - Brandon Prust

Colby Armstrong - Scott Gomez - Louis Leblanc

Petteri Nokelainen


Josh Gorges - P.K. Subban

Andrei Markov - Alexei Emelin

Tomas Kaberle - Raphael Diaz

Francis Bouillon - Yannick Weber


Carey Price

Peter Budaj

NOTES: Pacioretty, Desharnais and Cole were one of the League's most lethal lines when they were put together, so it would make sense for Therrien to leave them alone and figure out the rest. The Canadiens are going to need more from Bourque. The emergence of Desharnais and Eller last season doesn't leave a lot of room for Gomez, and Leblanc and Brendan Gallagher could move ahead of him in the pecking order for prime ice time. A lot of eyes will be on 2012 first-round draft pick Alex Galchenyuk in training camp, but he missed almost an entire year of development with a knee injury. Unless he clearly earns a spot in the top six, he'll return to the junior ranks for 2012-13.

If Markov is healthy, he's going to play a lot. Where Kaberle fits is more of a mystery. Emelin and Diaz are promising, and Boullion was a solid addition. It is already crowded on the back end, so 2011 first-round pick Nathan Beaulieu is in a position similar to Galchenyuk.

Price is a proven workhorse, but like others, a little less could mean more. If Therrien's staff doesn't trust Budaj or he struggles, the addition of Cedrick Desjardins could prove to be a nice one. Injuries have derailed him a bit, but there's plenty of potential in Guy Boucher's former American Hockey League netminder.

Follow Corey Masisak on Twitter: @cmasisak22

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