The Canadiens haven’t given me much to talk about lately. They’re out of the playoffs for the last time since 2006-2007, and they’ve been winning meaningless games of late. But in the interests of giving their fans one last good time in a relatively long and torturous year, they put on a good show for Game #82 hosted at the Bell Centre. No matter the deep sense of disappointment in this year, particularly after a good showing last season, beating the Leafs always feels good.
Tomas Plekanec would achieve the rare feat of scoring while down two men, sliding a puck past Ben Scrivens off a breakaway. Max Pacioretty would score his 33rd of the season to make it 2-0 Montreal in the second period. Dion Phaneuf would cut the lead to 2-1 in the third, but the Canadiens would score 2 more goals to put the nail in the coffin. First, Erik Cole (11th overall in goal scoring across the league!) would score his 35th goal of the season, then Brad Staubitz would get his first goal as a Canadien into the empty net. Peter Budaj finished the night with 30 saves on 31 shots for a save percentage of 0.967 while his counterpart finished with 23 saves on 26 shots for a measly 0.884.
All in all, it was an absolute stinker for the Leafs. Like many nights in the past few weeks, they didn’t show up at all. The Canadiens, most likely motivated by being the last game at home, put on a show for their fans and the usual suspects did most of the work.
For now, the focus turns to the offseason, though there is some excellent playoff hockey to look forward to. For myself, I’m rooting for Nashville in the West and Florida in the East. Why? Nashville is a pretty solid team, liked them last year too. With the additions they’ve made, I feel that they can challenge most if not all the teams in the league. For the Panthers, I like what Dale Tallon has done, though I thought it was stupid at the time to try to build a team of free agents. They’ve proven everyone wrong this season.
For the Canadiens, the focus is on the draft. They currently sit in the 15th spot in the East, and 27th in the league. Only Columbus and Edmonton have been worse. The draft lottery is scheduled for Tuesday April 10th. Currently, the Columbus Blue Jackets have a 48.2% chance of winning the first overall pick as a reward for being the most terrible team in the league. The Oilers have an 18.5% chance while the Canadiens sport a 14.2% chance. In all likelihood, it is same to assume that the Canadiens will probably get the 3rd overall spot, so it becomes a question of who they pick.
In the next few weeks, this blog will shift towards the Draft, Free Agency and potential management changes, so stay tuned!