Backhand Shelf’s previews for the 2013-14 NHL season are going to work like a choose your own adventure novel, because fans only hear what they want to hear anyway, so we might as well embrace it.
You’ll get the flippant barstool prediction, the push-the-glasses-up-your-nose numbers take, the team is going to be good take, the team is going to be bad take, and then we’ll try to bring it back full circle at the bottom. Let’s get to it.
Subtracted: Michael Ryder, Colby Armstrong, Yannick Weber
The Canadiens are going to be good
Few teams in the league are going to be able to hang with the depth of this squad. They’re coming off a year where they finished second in the Eastern Conference, and they’re only about to get better. Their forward depth is staggering. From Max Pacioretty (among the league’s top even-strength goal scorers over the past few years), to Tomas Plekanec (he of multiple 20+ goal seasons), to Brian Gionta (he of multiple 20+ goal seasons, including a 48-goal campaign), to Danny Briere (he of multiple 30+ goal seasons), to David Desharnais (on pace for 20 in a shortened season last year), to the 24-year-old Lars Eller (who’s been close to 20 and started with two last night), to Rene Bourque (he of multiple 20+ goal seasons), and on down to young super rookies like Alex Galchenyuk (27 points in 48 rookie games) and Brendan Gallagher (15 goals in 44 rookie games). I mean, isn’t that ridiculous? You can basically put talent like that in any order and offense is going to happen. They’re supported by workhorses like Brandon Prust, Travis Moen and Ryan White when things need to get gritty.
They’ve got a world class goaltender in Carey Price, who has a real shot of backstopping Team Canada in the upcoming Olympics, and he plays behind the defending Norris Trophy winner in the form of hard-shooting, hard-hitting, hard-playing PK Subban. Andrei Markov is also on the back-end and he’s healthy: the last time we’ve said that about him, he put up 58 and 64 points in full-seasons. They’ve got toughness in Alexei Emelin, they’ve got reliability in Josh Gorges…they kind of have it all. There’s no reason to think this won’t be one of the best teams in hockey this season.
The Canadiens are going to be bad