Technically the Canadiens are in the favorable spot holding games in hand on each team surrounding them but games in hand are only good if they are converted to wins. The best possible outcome is the Canadiens take a 4 point lead on the Bruins and maintain a 2 game cushion. Lose both games to Boston and their 2 games in hand would only tie them back up if they managed to win. This doesn’t take in to account what Atlanta, Toronto and New Jersey do.
At this point it looks as if New Jersey is going to pull away and take 7th spot or maybe higher. Martin Brodeur has found his game, signed a new contract for a ridiculous amount of money and was named defensive player of the month. Great news for the Olympics, not great news for teams trying to catch the Devils.
It should go down to the wire between Atlanta, Toronto, Boston and Les Habitants all trying to fit into 1 spot. With 4 teams so close, the margin for error is non existant. Screw up a couple games and there’s 3 other teams waiting to pass you. This is the situation the Canadiens find themselves in after blowing their early season success and they are lucky to still be in the hunt.
The Canadiens still have 6 games to play against Boston. The loser of that series will have no chance to finish 8th. The Canadiens and Leafs will also meet 3 more times. The Habs have to wake up and do it now while they still have a chance.
Cristobal Huet will get the start tonight. If he puts in a strong game he should continue to start as the #1 until the Olympics.