The Canadiens completed their 6 game road trip yesterday with a 3-0 win against division rivals Boston Bruins. The win gave the Canadiens 9 out of a possible 12 points and has put them right back into a favorable playoff position. This road trip will go down as the push that put the Canadiens over the playoff line.
Cristobal Huet earned another shut out and continues to impress. Sheldon Souray has made a complete 180 from a couple months ago and is finally playing like he should be. Even Richard Zednik is looking better out there. The Canadiens definitely seem to be rolling at the right time. Even Mike Ribeiro was willing to mix it up yesterday, maybe the loss of Jose lit a fire within.
Remember back in January when the Canadiens faced a tough road trip and lost the services of Andrei Markov for three weeks? The trip that featured a 5 goal first period outburst by the Canucks on Jose Theodore? A 7-3 embarassment by the Carolina Hurricanes? The Canadiens only managed 4 points on that trip. It’s hard to remember those games now after the great hockey the Canadiens have been playing recently.
This past trip has put the Canadiens in a good position but far from a guaranteed post-season. The Habs have a favorable schedule and presently hold a 3 point lead on the surging Thrashers and also hold a game in hand. What’s more interesting is the struggles of the defending cup champ Lightning. The Lightning gave up *8 GOALS* again last night and it looks like it’s going to get worse before better. The Lightning made no moves at the deadline which is incomprehensible and probably stamped their ticket out of the post-season. The team’s confidence in their goaltending has to be next to none.
Instead of the Canadiens and Thrashers battling it out for the 8th and final playoff spot it looks more like they could both finish 7th or 8th and Tampa would be on the outside looking in. The New Jersey Devils are only a few points ahead of the Canadiens and are definitely in reach. The Devils however DID make some good moves at the deadline and if you’re betting Tampa against New Jersey for who can hold on, the hands down favorite is Martin Brodeur and the Devils over the troubled Lightning.
The Canadiens meet the Lightining on Monday in a huge matchup and if the Canadiens get the upper hand on them in the standings they might never look back.
David Aebischer will arrive in Montreal some time today and no doubt be met by a media circus. It’s unknown who will get the call Saturday against the Rangers, chances are they throw Aebischer to the wolves sooner than later.