MONTREAL -- Coming off one of the city’s shortest summers since ‘93 thanks to a lengthy playoff run that ended just shy of June, we’ll forgive Habs fans if it feels like swimming pool season has turned into hockey pool season in a hurry.
But with training camp now less than a month away, we’re already eager to trade-in our Speedos for stat sheets – just like we have every year over the last six seasons – to offer fans a quick look at what the ‘experts’ have been saying about the 2014-15 edition of the Canadiens.
Armed with five magazines in total: Hockey Le Magazine, The Hockey News, Sportsnet NHL Pool Guide, The Sports Forecaster and Hockey Pool Pro, we gazed into the crystal ball for the upcoming year, and we started at the very end.
But one year into the new divisional formats, final standings are still the murkiest to call, with only Hockey Le Magazine willing to get its feet wet in the post-playoff pool. The French-language publication gives this year’s Stanley Cup to last year’s runner-ups, forecasting Chicago to go all the way, while closer to home, Montreal is slotted for a third-place finish in the Atlantic Division.
RDS commentator Pierre Houde, meanwhile, sees the Habs en route to an Eastern Final date with the Pittsburgh Penguins, while The Sports Forecaster predicts another third-place finish in the Atlantic – but that’s about as much as anyone is willing to tie their name to.
Shifting focus to something a little more personal, don’t hesitate to save a first-round pick in your pool for the Habs’ leading scorer from 2013-14, as Max Pacioretty is prime for a 59 to 69-point campaign this year, depending on who you ask. Likewise among defensemen, P.K. Subban is expected to put up potential career numbers this year --anywhere from 57 to 62 points -- and The Sports Forecaster even predicts a team scoring crown for the newest long-term Hab.
Pacioretty's usual partner in crime David Desharnais is likewise in the mix for a career year according to Hockey Le Magazine, which has penciled in the Laurier-Station, QC native for a 62-point season.
And following a modest 31-point sophomore campaign for Alex Galchenyuk a season ago, all signs now suggest a breakout year is on the horizon for the Habs' 2012 NHL Draft pick, who pundits agree could rack up anywhere from 47 to 53 points in 2014-15.
There's little variation in the blue paint however, as all of the magazines are unanimous in one respect: Carey Price will have another excellent season, winning 35 to 37 games bolstered by five to eight shutout performances. Hockey Le Magazine even sees the Olympic gold medalist hoisting at least one piece of hardware next June -- the Vezina Trophy at the annual NHL Awards in Las Vegas.
Until then, sharpen your pencils and get ready. Hockey season is almost here!
Vincent Cauchy is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Steven Nechay.
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