Washington Capitals Vs. Montreal Canadiens: 2015 Opponent Outlook


Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Capitals and Montreal Canadiens have two of the best goaltenders in the league. How do the rest of their rosters stack up?

The Washington Capitals and Montreal Canadiens enter the 2015-2016 season after being eliminated in the second round of the 2015 playoffs. Despite playing very different styles of hockey, both teams have high hopes for the upcoming season.


Last season, the Washington Capitals and Montreal Canadiens played each other three times. All three games required extra time. The Canadiens took two of three games. The Canadiens won the first matchup 2-1 in a shootout on October 9th. They also won the second 1-0 in overtime on January 31st. On April 2nd, the Washington Capitals avoided the season sweep with a 5-4 shootout win. 

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It was each team’s leading defenseman that came up big in this season series, as John Carlson led all Capitals skaters with three points, and P.K. Subban led all Canadiens skaters with four points. The Capitals and Canadiens will see each other three times again in 2015-2016. The Capitals travel to Montreal on December 4th. The Canadiens come to DC December 26th and February 24th. With both goalies shutting the door in net, which offense will be able to come through for their team?

Previewing the Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens finished the 2014-2015 season first in the Atlantic Division, and second in the NHL with 110 points. Despite having the league’s 20th best offense, which was worst among all playoff teams, Vezina trophy winner Carey Price’s pure dominance carried them to the playoffs. However, it was not enough to beat the highly talented Tampa Bay Lightning. Tampa sent the Habs packing in the second round of the playoffs. 

The Canadiens remained relatively quiet this offseason. They elected to add depth rather than top talent. They signed former Capitals forward Alex Semin to a one-year contract. Semin’s ability to drive possession should help Montreal immensely. They also invited former Capitals forward Tomas Fleischmann to a player try-out. They also traded hardworking Brandon Prust for Canucks’ forward Zack Kassian in a questionable move. Kassian certainly has more skill, but he’s also injury-prone.

A big storyline for the upcoming season will be the play of highly touted Alex Galchenyuk as he makes his transition to center. Carey Price, P.K. Subban, and recently named captain Max Pacioretty make the Montreal Canadiens automatic contenders. However, I’m not sure they’ve done enough to compete with the significantly improved teams atop the Eastern Conference.

Three Questions About the Montreal Canadiens

I had the chance to chat with Mat Germain of A Winning Habit about the Montreal Canadiens. Here’s what he had to say:

ME: As a Caps fan, I’m very familiar with Alex Semin. Do you think he will maximize his offensive potential with the Habs this season, or will he disappoint?

MAT: The Habs have Semin skating with Alex Galchenyuk at C and Lars Eller at LW. Both are young and offensively talented, despite Eller’s lack of scoring while on the 3rd line. I’m not going to predict a 40 goal season yet, but I do know that if he works hard and stays with that line in 2015, we should expect a min of 20 goals and high of 30. If he doesn’t work hard, he’s signed at such a low cost that the Habs can easily move him or cut him loose. Low risk, high reward!

ME: It’s going to be extremely tough for Carey Price to duplicate his 2014-2015 season. Which player (or players) needs to step up the most this season to help him out? 

MAT: Players that need to step up for the Habs this season include: Lars Eller and Alex Galchenyuk, Jeff Petry, and David Desharnais. The latter will be center on the 3rd line, a new and more defensively focused task he hasn’t faced before. The others all need to be the ones that help the Habs PP out and make them more balanced offensively. Zack Kassian has the potential to really boost the size and front-of-the-net presence. Nathan Beaulieu could be the biggest surprise of all on the blue line with his booming shot.

ME: The Canadiens had a relatively quiet offseason. Do you think they are still among the best teams in the Eastern Conference?

MAT: It’s going to be all hands on deck, but I know the Habs will be better for one simple reason: they have more depth ready and waiting for the call in the AHL than ever before. In particular, Charles Hudon, Mike McCarron, and Nikita Scherbak are itching for a shot while older vets like Sven Andrighetto and Daniel Carr are also there. I think the defensive grouping is ready to help Carey Price repeat and may be one of the most solid groups in the NHL when all’s said and done.

Did they add enough? I still wish they’d add someone who’s won the Cup before and is a strong presence on the 3rd line. Someone like Eric Staal or his brother Jordan. I absolutely believe Marc Bergevin will make 1 or 2 significant deals before the trade deadline, with the likely players sent out being David Desharnais and Tom Gilbert.

The Capitals and Canadiens should play three low-scoring games this season. Check out our friends at A Winning Habit for more Canadiens coverage!


Next: NHL Goalie Power Rankings

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