A new year, a new division and some new and/or enhanced rivalries. The NHL’s realignment to allow a season to happen during this pandemic will see all 7 Canadian based teams in the new Scotia North Division. In order to get you ready to this new normal, we’ve reached out to our pals from the other Canadian SBN sites to have a quick chat about their teams.
Jared Book from Habs Eyes On The Prize was kind enough to tell us what the deal is with the Montreal Canadiens.
1.- So... what’s new with you folks?
A lot, actually. This has been the most turnover we have seen in a while. The biggest additions may be Josh Anderson and Tyler Toffoli which completely change the depth of the forwards. There’s also Joel Edmundson, Jake Allen, Corey Perry, and Michael Frolik. Put it all together, and there are heightened expectations in Montreal this season.
2.- What’s the general mood amongst the fan base around this divisional realignment? Good, bad or otherwise? Are you mentally prepared for this many games against Toronto?
The mood is optimistic. The path to the playoffs is clearer than if they had to compete with Boston and Tampa Bay on top of Toronto. It won’t be easy by any means, but this team should make the playoffs in this alignment. I am also looking forward to the format and increased rivalries around Canada, especially with the talent in the division. I am definitely mentally prepared for the games against Toronto. I am, however, not prepared for the increased slate of late start times, including that forsaken 8pm Pacific start.
3.- The Habs did well in a surprising playoff run that saw them eliminate Pittsburgh and push Philadelphia to 6 games. Have they addressed the issues that can help them get further this season?
They absolutely have. During the post-season Max Domi was left without a solid role thanks to the emergence of Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi. They flipped him for Josh Anderson, which balances the lineup. They added Corey Perry, Tyler Toffoli, and Joel Edmundson which basically replace Dale Weise, Charles Hudon, and Xavier Ouellet. Most importantly, though, the post-season showed what a rested Carey Price can do. That, and a condensed schedule, makes Jake Allen all the more important.
4.- Corey Perry, huh? Apart from a sound business move in getting him on the cheap, what are the expectations for him with this team?
Depends on who you ask. Marc Bergevin’s favourite saying is that there are guys who can get you in the playoffs, and guys who get you through the playoffs. Perry was signed to help get the Canadiens through. I would expect a lower amount of regular season games in order to keep him fresh for the playoffs. He’ll be asked to play a bottom six role if the team is healthy, and maybe some power play minutes. The team isn’t going to ask him for big numbers. He’s there to make life difficult for the other team and provide leadership in the post-season.
5.- When the smoke clears, are the Habs in the top 4 in the shiny new Scotia North Division?
They better be… Marc Bergevin has set the gauntlet down. He hasn’t sacrificed the Canadiens’ future with his additions by going all-in, but he put his future on the line here. If the team doesn’t make the playoffs I wouldn’t be surprised if Bergevin does not return. This team should make the playoffs, though. It would take a lot of things going wrong for four teams to pass them though.
Thanks to Jared for taking time to chat with us, and make sure to check out Habs EOTP for all the info you need about our new divisional opponent.