Canadiens, Coyotes Fall Short –

The NHL postseason is upon us… unless you’re a member or a fan of the Montreal Canadiens or Arizona Coyotes. What went wrong with this pair?

With less than two weeks remaining in the National Hockey League regular season, most of the Stanley Cup playoff spots have been clinched. The race in the Eastern Conference has pretty much been over since the All-Star break, while the final spots in the Western Conference may come down to the last few games.

With most of the mathematically eliminated teams playing out the string, it is a good time to see exactly why they ended up on the outside looking in. We will start with the bottom dwellers in each conference.

Montreal Canadians

What went wrong?

In a word, everything. The Habs follow up to their magical run to the Stanley Cup Final last season was an unmitigated disaster, in part because of injuries to most of their key veterans (including goalie Carey Price), but also because of their attempts to plug the holes created by the departures of Philip Danault (free agency) and team captain Shea Weber (career-ending injuries) with the trade for Christian Dvorak and the signings of mike hoffmann and David Saverd were inadequate.

Montreal’s dramatic early-season decline resulted in the dismissal of GM Marc Bergvin and head coach Dominique Ducharme, and the future of veterans like Savard, Jonathan Drouin, jeff petryand Price are in question.

What went right?

Owner Geoff Molson made a wise choice by bringing in Jeff Gorton as Team President. Gorton was the mastermind of the New York Rangers turnaround and along with GM Kent Hughes will likely lead the Canadiens through a rebuild. The hiring of Hall-of-Famer Martin St.Louis to replace Ducharme has yielded positive results, especially from rookie Cole Caufieldwho is closing in on 20 goals after struggling in the first half and being demoted to the AHL

What will they do?

Price playing before the end of the season after spending most of the season on injured reserve may be a sign that he is trying to prove he can play to be dealt with. Petry has already requested a trade and it is likely that Gorton will try to shed the bulk of veterans (Brendan GallagherDrouin, Josh Anderson, Savard) with term left on their deals, as he did with the Rangers. The question is whether the Montreal fan base will be patient enough to allow the team to reset and build around young core players like Caufield and Nick Suzuki.

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Arizona Coyotes

What went wrong?

You really can’t say that anything went wrong with the Coyotes, since GM Bill Armstrong‘s plan for the season was to tank to position themselves for the best chance to draft presumptive 2022 top pick Shane Wright and accumulate as much draft capital as possible, but being a dumping ground for bad contracts like jay beagle, Andrew Ladd, Louie Erikssonand Nick Richie and rumors that they intend to deal 23-year-old defenseman Jakob Chychrun with three years left on his contract called into question the viability of the franchise.

What went right?

After trading former captain Oliver Ekman-Larssonforwards conor garlandChristian Dvorak, and goalie Darcy Kümper before the season, and moving Johan Larson and Scott Wedgewood at the deadline, Armstrong has accumulated eight picks in the first three rounds (three 1st, four 2nds, and a 3rd) in the upcoming 2022 NHL Draft in Montreal.

What will they do?

It looks like it will be more of the same for Arizona. They acquired the LTIR contract of Bryan Little from Winnipeg at the deadline to help get to the cap floor next season. If Armstrong follows through on the rumored trade of Chychrun over the summer, the Coyotes will only have the injured Clayton Keller, Travis Boyd, Dysin May, Karel Vejmelka and Nick Schmaltz signed past next season. This means you can expect a lot of veteran journeymen to be signed to one-year contracts.

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