There was no sense at any point last season that the Montreal Canadiens were in a “good position” with regards to making the playoffs. I remember writing a lot of game blogs that centred around how critical each point was – that extended streaks of either kind could have a profound influence on their chances. Its the difference between being 3rd in the standings and 8 through 10. For the first time this season, however, I caught myself looking at the standings this morning while checking up to see if the Canadiens players would return from injury. Gomez and Spacek will by the way.
The Habs are in 3rd place in the Eastern Conference by virtue of leading the Northeast Division. With 38 points, the Habs trail Philly and the Pens who are the class of the East in the early going by 7 and 6 points respectively. Though the Habs are in no danger of falling out of a playoff spot (Ottawa trails by 9 points), there is a log jam of teams WSH, MON, ATL, NYR, BOS, and TB who all have 36-39 points. Clearly, a stretch of winning or losing could go a long way to ensuring which side of that pile you are on.
It is far too early to suggest that a game against the Flyers is in some way “critical”. The Habs are currently suffering their longest losing streak of the year – 2 games. The team clearly has a lot to be proud of as far as consistency goes. If the Canadiens can find a way to win tonight, not only will they keep the Flyers from separating themselves form the pack, but they will ensure that they remain in favorable playoff position.
I’m sure we’ll all be watching Patches intently tonight. I’ll also be very interested in how long Travis Moen lasts on a line with Cammy and Plex. You have to believe that Kostitsyn serves that line better (given the history that those three have already this season).
Go Habs Go!