There is a common theme among teams that miss the playoffs: weak goaltending. That’s what is credited as the biggest contributor to the demise of the Calgary Flames and Montreal Canadiens last season. The Habs lost all-world goaltender Carey Price early enough to torpedo their chances at the post season, while the Flames have been looking for a reliable netminder since the heyday of Miikka Kiprusoff.
This summer saw a fix for both clubs as the Canadiens got their Vezina winner back from injury, and the Flames brought in two established NHL goalies in Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson. While obviously these are different paths, they’ve provided the same hope to both fan bases. A return to the playoffs is certainly possible for both, though they’re off to much different starts.
Montreal is undefeated in regulation through four games and leads the Atlantic Division with seven points, while the Flames have struggled out of the gate to a 1-3-1 record. The season is very young however, and both teams have more success planned for their immediate future.
The Flames locked up their top two players this summer, inking Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau to long-term deals, while the Habs have youngsters Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk looking like stars in their own right. Both franchises have questions on their blueline past their big #1’s (Mark Giordano and Shea Weber), but have intriguing young players filling the holes.
On Monday we asked who would you rather have, the Oilers or Maple Leafs roster and it was remarkably close after almost 500 votes were cast. This week we’ll ask the same of two other teams north of the border.
If you were buying a roster (not all the franchise perks that go with it) to build a championship team, which would you take?