As you probably all know, the Montreal Canadiens clinched a playoff berth last night with a 5-1 over the Buffalo Sabres. So, because the Habs will be in the playoffs this year, we are going to take a look at who could potentially be there first round opponents.
One possible opponent that many Habs fans are talking about, is the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs currently sit in 5th in the east with 49 points, 7 points back of the 4th place Bruins. This series would be big, not only because it is the Canadiens versus the Maples Leafs, but also because it would be Toronto’s first playoff appearance since 2004 when they lost to the Flyers in the conference semi-finals.
There’s another Canadian team that the Habs could possibly play in the first round. The Ottawa Senators are 6th in the east and are tied with the New York Islanders with 46 points, which means the #2 vs #7 first round match-up could be the Canadiens against the Senators. Ottawa has had many top players injured throughout there lineup including Erik Karlsson, Jason Spezza and Craig Anderson. Karlsson and Spezza both still out and it is not known when they could return.
Of course, since the Islanders are currently in 7th place but tied with the Senators, they could also see themselves come up against the Habs in a 1st round series. The Islanders are another team who has not been in the playoffs for quite some time. There last playoff appearance was in 2007 when they were eliminated by Buffalo in 5 games. Another important note if the Islanders make the playoffs this year is that John Tavares would play his first career NHL playoff game.
And then there’s the other team from the Big Apple. The New York Rangers are currently tied with Winnipeg for 8th place in the east with 44 points. The Rangers have a lot of great players in the lineup after adding Ryan Clowe and David Brassard to an already powerful lineup that included Rick Nash, Brad Richards and Derek Stepan. This team has the ability to go pretty far in the playoffs but if they aren’t on top of there game, they won’t be going much past the first round.
Another team the Habs could play in the first is the Winnipeg Jets. As i said, they are tied with the Rangers for 8th with 44 points. If the Jets make the playoffs, they would be one of the more probable opponents for the Habs, because they would most likely be a #8 or #7 seed in the eastern conference. The Jets are another team who hasn’t been in the playoffs for a while. There last run came 5 seasons ago(4 seasons as the Atlanta Thrashers and 1 as the Jets) when they were swept by, who else, but the Rangers in the 2007 playoffs.
Other teams such as New Jersey(#10), Buffalo(#11), Philadelphia(#12), and even Tampa Bay(#13) could slide into the playoffs and possibly be the Habs opponent for the first round.
If you have any questions, comments or just want to talk Habs, send me a tweet at @BMacPhersonAWH!