The Montreal Canadiens are one of the most storied franchises in the NHL. Founded in 1909, they took the ice for the first seven years in the NHA before the founding of the NHL in 1917. The Canadiens have eight conference championships, 24 division championships and 24 Stanley Cup titles. Montreal has had 15 numbers retired with 65 Hall of Famers suiting up for the Canadiens at some point in their careers. Going through a drought, their last playoff round won was in 2014-2015 and haven’t hoisted the Stanley Cup since 1992-1993.
After a solid 44-30-8 campaign in 2018-2019, it appeared the Canadiens were on the rise heading into the 2019-2020 season. Montreal was involved in a wild start, losing a 4-3 game in a shootout to Carolina, followed by a 6-5 shootout win over Toronto. A 5-4 overtime win at Vegas highlighted a 7-4-2 month of October. An eight-game losing streak from November 16 through December 1, including an 8-1 thrashing at the hands of the Boston Bruins, put the Canadiens at 11-10-6.
The inconsistency continued for Montreal in December, winning seven of ten before a nine-game slide at the end of the month into 2020 put the Canadiens under .500 at 18-20-7. A 5-4 shootout win over Vegas as part of a 5-3 stretch inched Montreal back above .500. After two straight overtime victories to start February, another five-game skid hit. A nice 6-2 win against the Islanders and 4-3 overtime triumph over Carolina appeared to get the Canadiens back on track before losing three heading into the suspension of play due to COVID-19.
In total, 12 games were cancelled and the Canadiens finished fifth in the Atlantic Division at 31-31-9 and 12th in the conference. Looking at the Canadiens injury report it seemed the team would find it difficult to win but the team shocked the number 5 seed Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Qualification round, winning three games to one. During the round of 16 against number one seeded Philadelphia Flyers, the Canadiens won two games by 5-0 and 5-3 scores. However, they were shutout in back-to-back games and lost four games, each by a goal, ending the season.
During the regular season, Tomas Tatar tied Brendan Gallagher for team lead in goals with 22. His eight power play goals, 39 assists, and 61 points, also led the team. Max Domi, who had 72 points last season, saw his production drop to 44 points. Center Nick Suzuki made the most of his 13 goals, six of them coming on the power play. Phillip Danault paced the team in plus/minus with plus-18, while defenseman Ben Chiarot led the team with 61 penalty minutes. In the net, Carey Price posted a 27-25-6 record with a 2.79 goals against average and .909 save percentage.
A few off-season moves have already been made to help the Canadiens heading into 2020-2021. Joseph Blandisi, a 26-year old, who split time between Montreal and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre of the AHL, was signed to a one-year contract. Defenseman Jeff Petry, signed a four-year contract extension. Petry has scored at least 40 points each of the last three seasons, tops for the team for a defenseman. He also had 177 hits and 30 takeaways.