The Montreal Canadiens earned the number two seed in the eastern conference last year and were looking forward to a deep playoff run. They took care of business against Ottawa in the first round, but then struggled to handle the young Tampa Bay Lightning and ultimately fell in the second round. In 2015 they will be looking to push through the regular season and make a deeper run in the playoffs.
The Montreal Canadiens schedule begins with slowly, but quickly hits a difficult set of games. After three preparation games, Montreal faces a four game stretch against the Penguins, Rangers, Red Wings, and Blue, all of which were playoff teams a season ago. The New York Rangers were the only team to finish ahead of them in the standings and will provide an early test as to whether they can jump into the number one overall seed this year. In November, the Canadiens head for a New York trip. They face the Islanders in back to back games and then play the Rangers. Things do ease during the December portion of the Montreal Canadiens schedule as it moves away from former playoff teams to teams that struggled to find victories last year. They will have a good chance to build of some victories before the calendar turns to 2016, but not before they finally get a chance to meet up with the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Canadiens will try their luck against the team that knocked them out of the playoffs and hopefully can get a win to build their confidence on the reigning eastern conference champions.
Graphic via habsaddict
In January the Canadiens encounter another tough four game stretch. During this stretch they face the defending champion Blackhawks twice to go along with games against the Blue and the Penguins. Montreal must bring their best defensive effort during this trip. Towards the second half of the season the Canadiens schedule eases up. Things are much more pleasant down the stretch except for the season finale. The Canadiens will go into the playoffs fresh off of another matchup with Tampa Bay. They will get to relive the hurt from a year ago before they embark on another playoff journey. A win in the final game of the regular season against the Lightning would do wonders for their confidence going into the playoffs where they would be likely to face them again. Overall, the Montreal Canadiens schedule is not overly challenging. It does have it difficult stretches, but it allows presents them with oppuritunies for lengthy winning streaks in various months. The Canadiens will have the opportunity to fight for a top playoff spot once again and maybe this time they will advance past the second round.
Graphic via canadiens