The Canadiens fell short against a good Devils team in a very important game. A tough loss considering the log jam that is the bottom 3 spots in the East and considering the Canadiens win streak will stop at 8 games and not tie the season record of 9 consecutive wins.
The loss combined with Atlanta and Tampa wins further shuffles the deck. A win could have put the Canadiens solely in 6th spot and only 4 points behind Philadelphia. The loss puts them alone in 8th and 6 points ahead of the Thrashers.
The Canadiens should finish no lower than 8th if they can manage at least 2 wins out of the remaining 5. But the Lightning have 2 more wins than the Canadiens and if the Habs hope to rise up again they’ll have to put together another streak and beat them in points alone. A tie with either Tampa or New Jersey is no good for the Habs as they would lose both tie breakers. The standings are just too close to call and will change several more times before it’s all over.
Although they lost, the Canadiens competed. Failing to bury a 2 minute 5-3 advantage late in the first haunted them later. The most troubling though is the injury to Steve Begin. Once Begin went down and needed assitance you knew it was serious. Begin is a key role and character player and it’s tough to see him out of the lineup. It’s unsure how serious it is right now but with a sprained knee he will definitely miss the rest of the regular season and perhaps longer. It looked pretty bad.
Tampa and New Jersey are both in action today and hopefully tired enough to get beat and give the Canadiens some extra help.
What’s more interesting though is the expected debut of Jose Theodore for the Colorado Avalanche tonight against Minnesota. Will he fall on his face? Will he dominate? Will he just be average?