Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Solid Homestand Comes to a Close

It isn't even an April Fool's joke or anything either.

With an impressive 4-1 win over legitimate playoff contender Chicago, the Habs ran their record on this most recent 5 game homestand to 3-1-1. The win last night was critical in the standings too (imagine that...). With Florida having defeated Ottawa earlier in the evening, the 2 points kept the Canadiens 1 clear of the Panthers for the final playoff spot in the East (with a game-in-hand as well).

The race to the postseason continues to tighten, with positions 5 through 9 in the East separated by only 4 points. Realistically, none of those teams are safe at this point, and even though most talk centers on one of Florida or Montreal missing out, it isn't out of the question for the Rangers, Penguins or Hurricanes to fall as well. Needless to say, the next 12 days will see a huge number of changes in positioning as the contenders struggle to distance themselves from the pretenders.

For the Canadiens, they need to prove that they can win on the road and against weaker teams in their last 6 games if they want to make it in. With visits to Long Island and Toronto in the next four days, those are 4 points that will be critical to earning a spot in the postseason. After that, things get tougher as they finish out at home versus Ottawa, in New York and Boston, and wrap up against Pittsburgh.

Thankfully, Bob Gainey seems to have the team playing solid defence, and Carey Price has regained some of his confidence from earlier in the year. While secondary scoring remains a bit of a question, it's certainly something that seems like it can be fixed given the talent available on the roster. The drive for the playoffs is in full force, so we'll see how the team reacts tomorrow night against the Isles.

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