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Thursday, February 28, 2013

NHL Pre-deadline Moves: Canadiens Put East on Notice

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NHL Pre-deadline Moves: Canadiens Put East on Notice

Perhaps the biggest surprise thus far in the NHL season has been the play of the Montreal Canadiens. After finishing dead last in the Eastern Conference a year ago the Canadiens have completely flipped their fortunes in 2013 with a record of 13-4-3, good for 29 points and 1st place. They lead pre-season favorites Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins by 3 points and do not seem to be stopping any time soon.

That message was reaffirmed this week as the Canadiens make, what to this point is the biggest trade of the 2013 season, re-acquiring right wing Michael Ryder from the Dallas Stars for underperforming winger Eric Cole.

After big seasons from both players in 2011-12 with 35 goals a piece, one player continued that scoring touch this season while the other floundered and was subject to considerable criticism. Ryder had six goals and 14 points in 19 games for Dallas this season. Cole, a measly three goals and three assists in 19 games for Montreal.

Aside from the obvious addition of scoring and power play help, the move may be of far greater importance for another reason: they kept Ryder away from a division foe in the Boston Bruins who were rumored to be in discussions with the Stars last week for Ryder's services. Interestingly, Ryder has played for both organizations in the past, including being a part of the 2011 Stanley Cup Championship team in Boston.

Where Ryder fits in with the Canadiens offense will be interesting to see. The top two lines have been fairly productive. That said, adding the scoring ability of Ryder to that mix certainly can't hurt. It is a big move for a team who many believed to be in a bit of a rebuild this season. They are telling that the league the time is now. Watch out Eastern Conference! The Canadiens are going to formidable team to beat for the foreseeable future.

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