Unrealistic expectations are the norm among sports fans as emotionally invested as Habs Nation, but the high hopes harbored by Canadiens supporters heading into tonight's season opener in Toronto are firmly rooted in reality.
Last spring's run to the Stanley Cup semifinals was no fluke, and if Carey Price hadn't been hurt early in the Rangers series, things might have ended differently. No offence to Dustin Tokarski, but goaltender is the most important position on the ice, and Price has firmly stamped himself as one of the top three - if not the best - in the world.
From the crease out, the Canadiens lineup is as balanced as it's been in the last 20 years, which is a year shy of their current Stanley Cup drought. Their lynchpin players - Price, PK Subban and Max Pacioretty - are all at an age where they're still trending upwards. A veteran core headed by but not limited to Andrei Markov, Tomas Plekanec and Brandon Prust precludes any concerns about a leadership void left by the departures of Brian Gionta and Josh Gorges. Throw in the very real possibility of a breakthrough season for potential franchise centerman Alex Galchenyuk, and what's not to like?
Injuries, as always, are the wild card. They're inevitable, but if the Canadiens can avoid long-term injuries to their cornerstone players - Carey Price most of all - nothing is unattainable.
This blog post is dedicated to Shaun Starr, who said to me "I still read your blog, but it's all political shit now. Write about sports, fuck."