Friday, April 10, 2009

No Loss Unrewarded

Despite losing their third straight game last night, the Canadiens still locked up a playoff spot thanks to the overtime point. They now sit at 93 points, and thanks to holding the tiebreaker over the Panthers are assured of a postseason berth even if the two teams finish tied in the standings (i.e. Montreal loses on Saturday and Florida wins).

The game last night was a chippy affair, with plenty of evidence (especially in the second period) that these are two teams that clearly don't like each other. With the return of Mathieu Schneider and insertion of Yannick Weber the Montreal PP was again successful (if unspectacular), scoring 3 times with the man advantage. A bit of secondary scoring was also evident (Matt D'Agostini had a pair), and Carey Price played a relatively solid game despite throwing in a couple of noteworthy errors. Unfortunately, the problem with the team still seems to be an inability to play and focus for a complete 60-minute game, and that is clearly something that needs to be fixed if they have any aspirations of making a postseason run.

With their playoff spot now assured, the main question that remains is who the Canadiens will face in the first round: Boston or Washington. That will depend on the outcome of the games over the weekend, as a Rangers win or Canadiens loss means a return matchup with the Bruins, while should the Rangers lose and the Habs manage a single point against the Penguins then it will mean a series with the Caps. Each possible opponent has their own relative strengths and weaknesses to be sure, so it's hard to say who the Canadiens would feel is a better matchup. Either way, I'm sure most people following the team are just glad to see them in, and will be more than happy with any first-round opponent given the alternatives that were looming a few weeks ago.

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