MONTREAL -- The Montreal Canadiens, simply put, need to make the playoffs this season.
If the Habs fail to make the postseason for the third straight season, it will tie a run of failure only twice achieved in the history of the franchise. The team last finished below eighth three times in a row between 1998 and 2001, and also missed the playoffs three straight times just after the First World War concluded between 1918 and 1921.
The Habs, like any team wanting success, need to stay on the ice and out of the rehab facility.
Last season, captain Shea Weber started the season recovering from injuries and made a huge impact when the 34-year-old returned to the blue line with his booming slap shot and leadership.
The same can be said for netminder Carey Price, who will need to stay between the pipes (with respect to backup Keith Kinkaid) if the Habs want to be a force.
Kinkaid, it should be said, will need to lace up when needed, so Price does not have to haul another marathon of a season and play 66 games.
There is no shortage of buzz circling the potentially impressive young Hab-lets ready to break into the lineup this season.
Ryan Poehling gave fans three reasons to get excited in the season finale last year scoring a hat trick, and prospect Nick Suzuki has got fans revving excitement engines like the motorbikes of same name.
The duo along with Finnish sophomore Jesperi Kotkaniemi will be ones to watch and players that will need to contribute should the Habs want to make it out of a tough Atlantic Division.
Make the best of a good thing
Last season, bluntly put, the Canadiens did not have a good power play. Actually, with a 13.2 per cent conversion rate, Montreal was second only to the Nashville Predators as worst with the man advantage.
The ignominious rate was the worst Montreal's had since 1963-64 when Hockey Reference started keeping track of power play rates.
A healthy Weber and energized Suzuki should help.
The Habs start the season tonight in Carolina against the Hurricanes where they will meet the free agent that could have been in Sebastian Aho. The set up couldn't be sweeter to make a statement to start the season.