Coming into this season, not much was expected of the Montreal Canadiens.
In fact, the only thing that was probably expected was that they were going to be bad. They don’t exactly have a lot of offense, no one knew what Carey Price they would be seeing between the pipes, and overall, they just don’t have an appealing roster.
Despite all of things going against them, the Canadiens have defied the odds and are playing quite well this season. As of this writing, the team is 16-11-5.
Believe it or not, this team is currently holding down the second wild card spot and is five points up on the team behind them (Pittsburgh Penguins). This certainly is not was envisioned prior to the start of the season.
One reason why the Habs are off to a great start is that they have found a way to put the puck in the net on a somewhat regular basis. The team is currently 11th in the league in goals scored with 101 goals in 31 games, which means they are averaging just over three goals a game.
Leading the way for this hockey club is Max Domi. Domi, who was acquired in the Alex Galchenyuk deal with the Arizona Coyotes, currently has 32 points (14 goals and 18 assists) and is a player that is involved in every game and does what he needs to in order to help this team win hockey games.
Behind Domi on offense are players like Jonathan Drouin (27 points), Tomas Tatar (24 points), Brendan Gallagher (20 points), and Andrew Shaw (19 points). In total, this team currently has nine players who have at least 15 points, which is great considering the fact that this team was not supposed to be too good offensively this season.
What’s also surprising is that this team is currently averaging 34 shots a game. Again, for a team that was not expected to be productive on offense this year, they sure do put plenty of pucks on net on a nightly basis, which is why they are 11th in the league in goals scored.
Another reason why the Habs have been good this year is because they now play hard every night. In years past when they had high expectations placed on them, there were some games where they simply did not have the energy or the will to compete.
That has not been the case at all this season. They work hard, they battle for pucks, they go hard to the net, they play physical, and they know how to battle back.
Lastly, they are playing with a lot more confidence this season. My guess is that because they do not have a lot of pressure on them this season, they can just go out and play their game.
When a team does not have any expectations out there, they can let things fly. Look at what the expansion Vegas Golden Knights did last season. No one in hockey expected anything from them and all they did was go out and go all the way to the Stanley Cup Final.
The Habs may not be an elite hockey club, but they are one that is staying competitive in an unbelievably tight Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference and they are showing the rest of the league that they are not to be taken lightly.
*Photo: Buffalo News