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» 2006 » March

  • Must Win Game #1: Penguins

    The Montreal Canadiens have a favorable end of season schedule compared to the other teams fighting for the last playoff spots in the East.

    The Habs playoff chances will be determined by how well they play in their must win games.

    The Canadiens next 10 games are against opponents below them in the standings and in some cases teams that are close to catching them. These are the Canadiens 10 must win games.

    The Canadiens play 7 out of these 10 at home. Can we expect the Canadiens to go 10-0? No. Although playing .500 hockey mathematically might keep them where they are, if the Canadiens hope to guarantee a spot or rise from their 8th place position they’ll have to win the majority of these games. Who wants to cling to a 1 point lead and leave their playoff chances up to other teams? Limping into the playoffs isn’t inspiring for a bottom team hoping to upset a top seed.

    10 points out of a possible 20 is not good enough especially if those losses include Maple Leaf wins. The Leaf games in particular are both 4 pointers and chances to put the Leafs out of it for good. After the 10 game stretch the Canadiens finish their season with multiple games against the Senators, Devils and Sabres who are very tough teams in races of their own. These next 10 games are crucial indeed.

    The Canadiens post season fate is firmly in their control. The formula couldn’t be any simpler. Defeat the weaker teams below them and they are in. Will they execute?

     

     

  • Habs on the Bubble

    Last night’s loss against the Carolina Hurricanes leaves the Canadiens with only a single point lead over Atlanta in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

    The Canadiens weren’t favored to beat the first place Hurricanes but the loss combined with Boston, Atlanta and New Jersey winning was the worst possible outcome. The Canadiens have ‘winnable’ games coming up against the Penguins and Capitals to try and re-establish the gap. The real test will be the Islanders game and the back to back home games against the Leafs. The Leafs can crawl right back in and maybe over the Canadiens with a couple wins or the Habs can really crush their chances if they take 3 or more points. The atmosphere for those games should be fantastic.

    David Aebischer‘s debut was spoiled. Despite very solid goaltending the Hurricanes showed what a great team does by converting their chances late and running up the score. The Canadiens managed to compete for much of the game but a flukey first goal gave the Canes the lead and they took advantage of every Habs mistake after that.

    Justin Williams has 24 goals? That’s more than any 1 member of the Canadiens does. Carolina took over 1st place overall with the win over the Habs and won the season series 4-0. They look a lot like Tampa 2 years ago when they were ruling the East on the way to the Cup – but even more dangerous.

    Stick with Aebischer or go back to Huet? The sooner Aebischer gets a win under his belt the better and the Penguins are giving them away for free these days. Although Sidney Crosby might have something to prove in Montreal.