Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What Will The Playoffs Hold For The Habs?

Hopefully this post is not considered to be too premature, but the Montreal Canadiens appear to be on their way to another attempt at a playoff run. According to the Canadiens are looking at a 99.8% chance of sealing a playoff berth. Considering the way they have been playing of late, this does not come as a shock. After running through some tough times after the Olympic break, the Habs are back in form, and at the perfect time.

The Canadiens have won six of their last seven games, carrying possession in five of those games. Key players for the Canadiens have stepped up their play including two new faces in Thomas Vanek and Mike Weaver. Vanek seems to be finding his offensive abilities with this Habs team as they keep pushing to the playoffs, while Weaver is fitting in nicely on the back-end showing his small stature is capable of throwing bruising hits. The same old faces seem to be proving why they are an integral part of this squad, with the likes of PK Subban, Tomas Plekanec, Max Pacioretty, and Andrei Markov stepping up to the challenge. Sophomore Brendan Gallagher has been showing his talents all season, and appears to be becoming a serious part of this team. Carey Price is obviously a huge reason for this teams success, as he has been excellent all season. If these players keep performing, and the rest of the team follows suit, the Habs could very well make a serious push for the eastern conference title. 

Montreal still has some challenges they need to over come. First, Michel Therrien needs to look at his lines, and seriously consider what kind of team he wants to ice. Make lines, and stick with them. That will create some confidence in the room, and create chemistry before the playoffs hit. Montreal has also been hit with some injuries, including Brandon Prust, Travis Moen, and Dale Weise. Basically the full fourth line. The Canadiens are lucky enough to have some decent depth to be able to fill this line with Lars Eller, Ryan White, and Michael Bournival. The big question with that is what to do once the team is healthy again. Hard to experiment in the playoffs.

It is looking more and more like the Canadiens are going to be squaring off with Tampa Bay in the first round of the post season. This could potentially go either way. As much of an obvious statement that is, it is probably one of the most even match-ups that could potentially occur. In the previous three meetings between the two teams this season, all three have gone to extra time, including two shootouts. The combined scoring, 5-4 Tampa Bay. All three games were won or lost by a score of 2-1. Montreal had an average Corsi for percentage of 45.33% which is not great; however, it is not terrible. Considering Montreal is having their best possession numbers (consistently) of the season, I wouldn't be surprised to see these numbers increase if this match-up occurs.

Should Montreal make the playoffs, this is probably the scenario I like the most. Both are quality teams, but when Montreal is on, they look like a team that can take on anybody in the East, and threaten for the Stanley Cup. They carry all the keys to success. Scoring threats on all lines. Players willing to put it all on the line. An elite goaltender capable of stealing games and the depth to be able to contend through injuries. In the last month, they managed to fabricate the comeback of the century, defeat arguably the best and hottest team in the National Hockey League with only ten forwards, and the backup goalie, and are sitting pretty with a 99.8% chance of a playoff berth. Now if you ask me, the Montreal Canadiens are looking pretty damn good right about now.

Thank you for the read and feel free to comment!

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The biggest catalyst will be examining how they play with Stamkos but without St. Louis. I don't believe the Habs faced Stamkos this season, though I could be wrong.

Both Carey Price and Ben Bishop have been outstanding, but Bishop has had more injury woes - nagging day to day stuff - and if he misses time, I don't see Lindback stealing any games for them. It should be a very closely battled series, could easily go the distance.

Great article!


I do think Weaver was a great pickup and he'll help in the playoffs. I do hope Gorges is back in time, and ready to go, as he's a better D-man, though no disrespect to Weaver. I'd much prefer to see Gorges there than Murray, for example.

For the lines, I couldn't agree more. The "EGG" line was great the first month, but they haven't been together (really) since. Maybe next year?
Meanwhile, Vanek-Patches-DD is going well, and so is Pleky with G&G. Brière seems to have gained a step, and Bourque is playing better, both with Gionta. Prust-Moen-Eller as a 4th line, I think, is better than most.

Great stuff!

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