As a well-respected NHL franchise, the Montreal Canadiens are always expected to make a big splash on the NHL each season. A team with an impressive record but often a hard time living up to expectation, this season was supposed to be one where things finally changed in Canada. However, the Canadiens might have given everyone some false expectations given how they started the season. At the start of the year, the Canadiens hit an impressive run of seven wins, one loss, and two defeats in overtime. However, things soon unravelled, and they went on to win just two of the next ten, costing Claudie Julien his job. Now, the question is more to do with will the Canadiens make the play-offs or not?
As it stands, the team is currently holding onto fourth spot in the Scotia North Division. They have lacked the quality many would have expected this season, even with new coach Dominique Ducharme doing a decent job to steady the ship. However, it hasn’t removed any of the fears at the back or the front of the rink, with the defence allowing far too many basic goals and the attack beginning to dry up in terms of their own offensive output. In particular, keeper Carey Price needs to find form again after one too many key mistakes in recent games.
So, the question exists – can they make the most of their games in hand to make some clearance between themselves and the chasing pack?
Can the Canadiens get over the line and make the play-offs?
At the moment, it is likely going to come down to the form and the fitness of some of their off-season additions. The arrival of Tyler Toffoli, Josh Anderson, and Jake Allen has helped to keep the sinking ship afloat to some extent. They’ve played well even during the bad runs, and look to be solid role players who could be a key part of the Canadiens line-up for a good time to come.
However, the main benefit to the team is that, while they are in a slump of their own, fellow play-off contenders are struggling at the same time. They are benefiting from the Calgary Flames and their inability to make ground and play well in the clutch moments. Every time they get close to overhauling the Canadiens, the Flames, well, flame out. They run out of energy and ideas, and fall behind.
A lack of goals for and an increasing number going in against leaves the Flames in just as big a spot as the Canadiens. This could lead to some pretty significant challenges among both sides as they try and essentially see who can stabilise enough to get it over the line and finish the season with a modicum of respectability.
While a play-off performance is unlikely from either team, merely getting there would be a success of sorts given the chaos engulfing the Flames and the Canadiens this season.