Kukla's Korner

The Upper Canadien

Habs thus far: 19-9-3

Now, I'm not one to read too much into numbers, but heading into tomorrow's game against the LA Kings, the Habs are 19-9-3. Look familiar to anyone? Add in the fact they play the Kings and, well, you know where I'm going with this. 

As the Habs chase their first cup in two decades, there are signs this team could contend. They're beating good teams, based on scoring depth, solid defence, and stalwart goaltending. Up and down the roster, players are overachieving. Young guns such as Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk are thriving under the pressue in hockey's birthplace, while veterans such as Max Pacioretty and Tomas Plekanec play some of their best hockey in a while - Plekanec may be playing the best of his Canadiens career, and that's saying something. Andrei Markov, as well, looks 5 years younger than his real age, playing the best hockey we've seen from him since his plethora of knee injuries started about 5 years ago. PK Subban is turning into, quite possible, the best defenceman in the NHL. To some extent, it really is an embarrassment of riches.

That brings us to Carey Price. As 26, Price is entering his prime, and looks the better for it, with a 1.95 GAA and a .938 SVP. He's the cornerstone of the franchise, and gives them a chance to win every night. Heck, even backup Peter Budaj is performing above expectations, and these two are a big reason the Habs are on the current run they are.

Looking back at the younger players, Alexei Emelin is a cog in the defensive wheel, and when he's in the lineup, the Habs win. Revisiting Galchenyuk, he now has 47 pts in his first 79 NHL games - and he's still 19. That's impressive for anyone, let alone a 19 year old. Did I mention it's an embarrassment of riches?

So are the Canadiens a Stanley Cup contender? I won't go that far. I predicted a top 5 finish in the East, and I still believe that's the case. However, with another solid forward, and a top four defenceman, this team could surprise come playoff time. They've got the depth, they've got the core, and they've got the talent to succeed. We're 31 games in. Let's see what Michel Therrien can get out of his team over the next 31.

Until then: 19-9-3.

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About The Upper Canadien

The Upper Canadien is your one stop shop for all things Montreal Canadiens. Since the summer of 2010, I've been providing Habs related news, notes, and most importantly, opinions. As a blogger, I don't believe it's my job to report the news, it's my privilege to comment on it. You may disagree with what I suggest. In fact, you most likely will. But that's the great part about blogging: it spurs opinion, comment and engages all involved. I've really enjoyed all the debate and commentary from readers thus far and I encourage everyone to respond with ideas on lineups, trades, logos, sweaters, mascots, whatever. The Upper Canadien is a conversation for all hockey fanatics.

I've come to Kukla's Korner with four years of campus radio and three years of sportswriting from my time at Mount Allison University on Canada's East coast. Not only do I not have any professional journalistic training, after five years in the corporate world, I've spent much of the past two years completing an MBA. Business by day, hockey by night, I'm a Canadiens fan through and through. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I do writing.

Questions or comments? theuppercanadien@kuklaskorner.com