It’s safe to say that Montreal Canadiens fans will be more excited for the team’s preseason schedule than for the 82 games that follow.
The best thing to happen to the Habs this offseason was selecting Jesperi Kotkaniemi third overall in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. The Finnish center was a sleeper for most of the season but his ranking sky-rocketed just days before the draft. In selecting him, the team addressed an achingly long organizational need but it’s unsure whether or not he’ll be ready to make the big team when the Habs start their season on Wednesday, Oct. 3 against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
That’s what the preseason is for. All eyes will be on Kotkaniemi and the other top draft picks in the system as fans search for a player who can save this dying club. Because, unfortunately, the only other moves made by general manager Marc Bergevin this offseason were either lateral ones or (debatably) worsened the club.
Max Domi will replace fan-favourite Alex Galchenyuk who is now a member of the Arizona Coyotes and Tomas Plekanec returns to the fold, while captain Max Pacioretty is supposedly on his way out. The preseason might be your last chance to see the elite scoring winger don the CH.
Here’s a look at the Montreal Canadiens schedule in 2018-19:
The Habs have another tight preseason schedule this year with seven games in 13 days (instead of eight in the same time frame last year) beginning with visits from the New Jersey Devils and Florida Panthers to the Bell Centre on Sept. 17 and 19.
There will be only one game played in Quebec City this season, after poor attendance for the two games scheduled last preseason, and the Habs will matchup against the Stanley Cup-winning Capitals on Thursday, Sept 20 at the Centre Videotron.
The Habs will play home and away games against the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs during the two-week stretch as the roster is trimmed down to 23 players in time for opening night.
For the 18th time in franchise history, the Habs will square off against the Leafs to open the 2018-19 campaign on Wednesday, Oct 3. The game is part of a two-game road trip to start the season with visits to the Scotiabank Arena (renamed from the Air Canada Centre this summer) in Toronto and against Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena on Saturday, Oct 6.
The Habs return to the Bell Centre for their home opener on Thursday, Oct 11 against Drew Doughty and the LA Kings, a rare early visit from a Pacific Division team. There’s a pre-game ceremony scheduled for 7:00 p.m. with puck drop expected to be at 7:30 p.m.
Other Notable Dates
In addition to two contests against the Capitals in the preseason, the Habs will host Alexander Ovechkin and company twice, on Nov 1 and 19. Cup-finalist, the Vegas Golden Knights, also visit the Bell Centre that month with their only game in Montreal slated for Nov 10. The rematch is slated for Dec 22 at Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena.
The team’s longest stretch of games away from the Bell Centre is in December when the team begins a six-game road trip over two weeks with games against the Colorado Avalanche, Phoenix Coyotes and Golden Knights before heading back east for games against the Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning and (oddly) the Dallas Stars. There’s a five-day break between the two road trips.
The team’s bye week will be right after the All-Star Weekend on Jan 25-26 and will run from Jan 27-31, after which time the Habs return to the Bell Centre for a five-game homestand including the team’s annual Family Weekend with afternoon games against the New Jersey Devils and Edmonton Oilers on Feb 2 and 3.
Canadiens Final Games
The Habs close out their season at home on Saturday, Apr 6 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, which could be one of the most exciting or depressing games of the year, depending on how the team fares in the 81 games before then.