There are 5 games left in the Canadiens regular season schedule and the Canadiens hold a 6 point lead over the 9th place Thrashers. Perhaps the most important game is the one tonight at home against the Ottawa Senators.
Why so important? The obvious reason is the fact the Habs have yet to clinch a playoff spot but more importantly tonight we’ll see how the Canadiens can rebound after a loss. After 8 consecutive victories the Canadiens finally dropped a game. If they can come right back with a win against a good team they’ll maintain their position in the standings as well as their confidence. A loss will send the fickle Montreal fans who yesterday predicted the Stanley Cup back to criticizing the coach, GM, players and league. That’s just the way it goes in Montreal.
There is a very real chance this will be a first round playoff matchup and if the Canadiens can win tonight after winning in Ottawa last week that’ll be a huge boost in their hope to realize a 1st round upset.
The Habs will have to do it without Steve Begin whose sprained knee will probably keep him out for the remainder of the season. That means it is probable Richard Zednik gets a start again and hopefully he’ll wake up in time for the playoffs or find himself right back in the press box. Zednik has been simply ineffective in every way possible but traditionally ‘shows up’ in the playoffs. I honestly can’t even remember the last time Richard Zednik scored a goal. If someone wants to dig out that little gem go ahead. It’s too depressing a thought. I’d wager its somewhere between 15-20 games ago.
Jan Bulis is still teetering on the brink of press box banishment. Despite scoring a couple times since returning to the lineup he has been equally responsible for goals against. Having Bulis and Zednik floating around isn’t something positive for Habs fans hoping for a deep playoff run. Although the depth players that replace them are playing consistent. Murray and Downey fit the Canadiens new style of play and prove they can chip in goals here and there which combined is far above what Bulis or Zednik can provide. You get the feeling if they don’t shape up soon their days as Canadiens are numbered. Perhaps they already are.
Five games remain and anything can still happen. 5-0 or 0-5 would produce very different results. If the Canadiens manage at least a 2-3 record to finish the year they’ll be in. Then it becomes a new season where anything can happen.