With a 5-4 overtime win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Montreal Canadiens earned a third straight win, and sit tied for third in the Atlantic division as of this writing. The surprising position that this team has found itself in has led many to question whether they have succeeded, and rebuild the team into a contender in short order.
I submit to you that while the rebuild is not yet over, it is definitely ahead of schedule.
As it stands, the team is outperforming expectations on every level. Statisticians readily await regression so they can say they told everyone so. Yet, this team keeps winning, and doing so on the back of a young core that stands to be their backbone through this rebuild.
Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield, and Kirby Dach currently sit as the top three scorers on the team. Suzuki is the oldest of the group at the ripe age of 23. This is a team expected to finish in the basement of the NHL, and they’re thumbing their noses at projections, led by players barely old enough to drink in the country of the currency in which they’re paid.
One of the biggest knocks against this roster so far has been their reliance on above-average goaltending. On Saturday, .833% was all they needed from Jake Allen to get the job done. It was just one win, but it flew in the face of the most significant argument against their success thus far.
This team isn’t ready to compete for a cup, but they are better than they were expected to be. Beating the Penguins on the second half of a back-to-back doesn’t scream Stanley Cup, but the way they did it screams pay attention. They’re coming up.
There is still work to be done, but the Montreal Canadiens are perhaps in for a shorter rebuild than originally expected.
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