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Road To, And Through, The Playoffs Is Arduous For The Canadiens

February 2, 2019, 12:20 PM ET [20 Comments]
Brandon Smillie
Montreal Canadiens Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Your Montreal Canadiens return from the All Star break tonight to take on the New Jersey Devils after a 9 day layoff. Paul Byron should return to the line up tonight after serving his 3 game suspension for his illegal check to the head and Carey Price will serve his 1 game suspension tonight for skipping the All Star game to rest his lingering LBI.

Both of these suspensions are garbage by the way...

The Habs no doubt enjoyed the rest, especially players like Price, Weber, and Gallagher who play a heart and soul, play through the pain style game. A break might not have been ideal with the Canadiens winning 5 of the last 6 before the break but the schedule is the schedule and the Habs got themselves a great rest heading into the last 31 games of the season.

They have 31 games to earn their ticket to the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs and the road there will be paved through Boston, Toronto, and Tampa Bay. The Canadiens find themselves in a thrilling playoff race with a little over 2 months left in the season and sit 2 points out of 2nd place in the Atlantic, and tied for 3rd in said Division with Boston. Sitting in the 1st Wild Card position with more than a fair shot at 2nd in the Division sounds like they have it made but you can't count out the teams below them either.

The Columbus Blue Jackets are 2 points back of the Habs with a game in hand and they sit in the 2nd Wild Card spot and have Carolina and Buffalo sitting just 3 points back of them with lots of firepower potential. Either of those two teams could go on a win streak of their own and ramp up the pressure. There is a question about what the CBJ's will do as the trade deadline approaches with both Bobrovsky and Panarin looking like they have ZERO interest in signing on for more time in Columbus. So, they might look very different at the trade deadline. Could they deal for a solid package of young players and picks that help them now? Maybe, but a team dealing for these guys is buying at a rental price unless the player agrees to sign an extension.

Speaking of players signing, it looks like some big name guys are definitely interested in exploring the UFA market this summer. Panarin, Karlsson, Bobrovsky, all these players are elite impact players and all of them are going to get one hell of a pay day July 1st.

But that's not all! Mark Stone, Matt Duchene, and Jordan Eberle are all looking like they want some of that Canada Day Jackpot money too. This summer is shaping up to be a game changer for the teams that land one or two of these players...

But I digress...

So, the Canadiens will be facing a tough test just to earn a ticket to the second season with the possibility of home ice advantage or an early end to the season. Once they get that ticket the work does not get easier. The Canadiens wouldn't have any "easy" opponents upon starting the playoffs. Should they remain in a Wild Card position they get the surging NYI's (who I think are at risk of dropping) or one of Washington or Pittsburgh in the first round. If they move up the standings they get Boston or Toronto in the first round. Should they make it through these rounds they end up facing one of Tampa Bay or likely one of Washington or Pittsburgh. You see where I'm going here. To make it through the East will be like running through the Ultimate Gauntlet to face the best of the West.

The Canadiens have had a fantastic season so far and it should continue with the right effort, but it's going to take a supreme effort from here on out to make it to and through the playoffs. I look forward to seeing if they can make it happen.

Go Habs Go
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