Who Can Montreal Meet In The Playoffs?

So, we’ve reached the final day of the regular season. Montreal currently sits at 108 points, two ahead of Tampa Bay. No matter what happens on Saturday, the lowest the Canadiens can finish is second in the Atlantic. What results from this is a variety of possible teams Montreal can play. With the Islanders beating the Penguins on Friday night, that eliminates the possibility of either the Islanders or the Capitals from facing Montreal. What it does mean is there are 4 possible teams Montreal could face, all of which pose a threat.

Below are the current chances percentage wise of who Montreal is likely to play:

http://www.sportsclubstats.com/NHL/Eastern/Atlantic/Montreal.html

Courtesy of Sports Club Stats

Possibility 1: Pittsburgh Penguins

Current Record: 42-27-12

Current Playoff Position: 2nd Wild Card

Season Series Vs Montreal: 1-1-1

Players to Watch: MTL: Pacioretty   PIT: Crosby

www.foxsports.com

www.foxsports.com

The Penguins have always been an offensive powerhouse, but for whatever reason, the well has been dry since the trade deadline. To put the stat below in perspective, Montreal has averaged around 2.6 goals per game all season. Pittsburgh poses an interesting match up as the Penguins have arguably the best top two centres in hockey with Crosby and Malkin, and have good depth through their forward core. However, they lack depth in their defense. Aside from Letang (if he plays), they have no real serious threats on the blue line. Finally, the goaltender. M.A Fleury has been playing well this year, but not well enough to steal a series if Pittsburgh’s offense cannot return to its old form.

Kevin Gibson @TSNResearch

Kevin Gibson
@TSNResearch

 

Possibility 2: Ottawa Senators

Current Record: 42-26-13

Current Playoff Position: 1st Wild Card

Season Series Vs Montreal: 3-1-0

Players to Watch: MTL: Gallagher   OTT: Hammond

www.lhpmonline.com

www.lhpmonline.com

The hottest team of 2015 have been on fire ever since Hammond made his appearance into the NHL. The Sens are really an interesting team to watch because on paper they shouldn’t be anywhere near this position, but as we all know, hockey isn’t played on paper. This season it seems Ottawa has Montreal’s number, though before this campaign Montreal had won 12 of the last 15 against Ottawa. We can’t discuss this match-up without looking back at the 2013 playoffs, where Montreal was outplayed all series. The Habs have learned from then, and I believe that Montreal can run a series with Ottawa. This year, if a match-up does occur, Montreal needs to find a way to beat Andrew Hammond, plain and simple. If you can beat Hammond, you can beat the Sens.

 

Possibility 3: Detroit Red Wings

Current Record: 42-25-14

Current Playoff Position: 3rd Atlantic

Season Series Vs Montreal: 0-2-2

Players to Watch: MTL: Plekanec   DET: Datsyuk

detroit.cbslocal.com

detroit.cbslocal.com


The Detroit Red Wings. The model of NHL consistency over the last 24 years. Montreal must be cautious if they go up against these guys, the Wings have depth galore in both forwards and defense, not to mention an abundance of skill within their stars. What Detroit needs to be mindful of is their goaltender. Even since Jimmy Howard went down with injury, the former U.S. Olympian has struggled mightily. If Howard’s play continues as is, it doesn’t matter how well the rest of the team plays. If he doesn’t change, Montreal could send the winged wheel home early.

 

Possibility 4: Boston Bruins

Current Record: 41-27-13

Current Playoff Position: N/A  (9th in East, 1 point out)

Season Series Vs Montreal: 0-4-0

Players to Watch: MTL: Subban  BOS: Lucic

www.rantsports.com

www.rantsports.com

 

It almost seems like yesterday when Montreal beat Boston in 7 games last season. However, Boston is a weaker team this year than they were last year. The forwards have skill and toughness, but they have never been able to keep up with the speed of the Canadiens. Major issues also come in the form of injuries; Krejci has been in and out of the line up, Chara just returned a few days ago, Hamilton is currently hurt and the list goes on. While nursing injuries, the Bruins cannot impose the level of physical play the “Big Bad Bruins” are known for. As for Tuukka Rask? His 3-13-3 record against Montreal doesn’t speak too highly of him. This is the match-up I want for the Habs, assuming Boston even makes the playoffs, which is not a sure thing.

 

I can honestly say that I am confident in Montreal’s ability to play well in the playoffs. The game plan that Montreal follows all depends on who they’re playing, and if Therrien and his staff can do that well, I have no reason to believe that the Canadiens will falter.

 

Let the drive for 25 begin.

 

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