The Montreal Canadiens' 3-1 win over the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden last night was their fifth straight victory, and it vaulted the Habs into first place in the Eastern Conference less than a year after they finished the 2011-12 season dead last.
It's a remarkable turnaround, especially when you consider that the Canadiens didn't add any top-end free agents to the mix this season -- their biggest summer signing was heart-and-soul grinder Brandon Prust. So what, exactly, has been the secret of their success this year?
"That third line has been their best," NHL Network analyst Kevin Weeks said of the Pust-Alex Galchenyuk-Brendan Gallagher combo on the highlight show NHL Tonight. "The key for the Habs is they're playing by committee this year, and they're playing a hard game. They're not as soft as they were last year."