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Is Claude Julien the Change the Canadiens Needed?

After starting the 2016-17 NHL season with an incredible 13-1-1 record, the Canadiens have fallen back to earth, posting an 18-18-7 record since. The 4-0 loss to Boston on February 12 was their sixth in seven games and it was the straw that broke the camel’s back for former Habs head coach Michel Therrien. The Canadiens announced two days later, on Valentine’s Day, that they would be moving on from Therrien and bringing Claude Julien back into the fold after his recent departure from Boston.

It became clear that players had grown tired of Therrien, and by many accounts from former players, that’s not a big surprise. Julien will bring a much-needed personality change behind the bench in Montreal and should immediately command the respect in a somewhat shattered locker room. This is a move that will, if nothing else, calm the frustrations of jaded fans but should be a great long-term move for the historic franchise.

Bovada has put up several props related specifically to the Habs and how the rest of their 2016-17 will play out for them. You can bet on the OVER/UNDER for how many points they’ll finish with, where they’ll stand when the final whistle blows on the regular season and how their 2016-17 will end.

At this point, it looks like it would take an utter collapse for anyone to overtake the Canadiens for first place in the Atlantic. Despite their awful run, they still sit six points up on the Senators and Bruins for the top spot and as we’ve seen from every coach firing/hiring this season, we should see an immediate boost in the Canadiens’ play. As of this writing, the Canadiens were on pace for 99 points and it’s unlikely they get worse under Julien. I like them to get OVER that 97.5-point total that’s been set for them and if they do, they'll easily win their division.

There is some dispute among pundits on whether the Canadiens have the talent necessary to make a deep run in the playoffs and if this coach swap was a desperate move. The only problem with that debate is that the Habs still have Carey Price, the consensus best goalie in the NHL/world. No. 31 had obviously become disgruntled with the head coach in Montreal and it showed in his play. Julien should be able to get Price’s head screwed back on and if he does, there’s no limit to what this team can do.

Although the talent levels of the two teams cannot really be compared, this move feels a lot like the one the Penguins made in the midst of last year’s Stanley Cup-winning season. Mike Johnston had lost the respect of the Penguins locker room and his tactics had grown stale. You can only tell the same motivational speech so many times before you get labeled as a blowhard and I think that’s exactly how Max Pacioretty and the rest of the Habs felt about Therrien.

With the depth of competition coming from the Metropolitan, it’s going to be tough for the Canadiens to make it out of the East and I’m not at all suggesting they go deep in the postseason. What I am saying is that with a highly respected coach in Julien now behind the bench, they have a much better shot.

Montreal’s first game with Julien at the helm will come Saturday when the Canadiens host the Jets at the Bell Centre. This is going to be must-watch television and based on the small sample size that has seen the Islanders, Blues and Bruins go a combined 16-5 straight up in games to date under new leadership, the Habs should be a good bet.

Here are the props available at Bovada:

2016-17 Regular Season Points - Montreal Canadiens

Odds as of February 15 at Bovada

  • OVER 97.5 -120
  • UNDER 97.5 -120
How will the Montreal Canadiens 2016-17 season end?

Odds as of February 15 at Bovada

  • Win Stanley Cup +1200
  • Lost in Stanley Cup Finals +1200
  • Lose in 3rd Round +550
  • Lose in 2nd Round +200
  • Lose in 1st Round +105
  • Not Make Playoffs +1200
How will the Montreal Canadiens Finish the Regular Season? 

Odds as of February 15 at Bovada

  • 1st in the Atlantic -240
  • 2nd in the Atlantic +250
  • 3rd in the Atlantic +650
  • Highest Eastern Wild Card +4000
  • Lowest Eastern Wild Card +3300
  • Not Make Playoffs +1200

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