The Montreal Canadiens won a pair of games over the weekend and greatly improved their playoff positioning in the process. Things looked bleak late in the game Saturday night against the Ottawa Senators. The Habs were 1-4-0 in their last five and down 4-1 with just a few minutes to go. Of course, they accomplished one of the greatest comebacks in hockey history and won the game 5-4 in overtime.
Montreal currently sits second in the Atlantic Division with 81 points. They are one point ahead of Toronto and two ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning, who have two games in hand. The Habs are also seven points up on the Washington Capitals who are the top team outside the playoff picture.
Below, shows the current NHL standings but with an extra column at the far right that shows how many points each team is on pace to finish the season with. There is hardly anything scientific about this, I just assume everyone remains at their current point percentage for the rest of the season, and then sort the standings based on the predicted finish.
Of course this is not going to happen exactly, but for the most part it will give an idea of where the cutoff will be for playoff teams and teams that fall just short.
As we can see here, 92 points would be just enough to make the playoffs if teams continue at their current pace. Again, a surge by Washington or New Jersey could skew this a bit but not by much, and not at all if it is met with a drop in play by Tampa Bay or Columbus.
Basically, what this chart tells us is that if the Montreal Canadiens find a way to get 92 points they are playing with fire but could make the playoffs. If Montreal finds a way to get 93 points, they should grab a wild card position. If Montreal plays well and finishes with the 94 points they are on pace for, they will be battling for one of three Atlantic Division seeds.
|Atlantic Team||Games Played||Wins||Losses||Overtime Losses||Points||Predicted Finish|
|Metropolitan Team||Games Played||Wins||Losses||Overtime Losses||Points||Predicted Finish|
|Wildcard Team||Games Played||Wins||Losses||Overtime Losses||Points||Predicted Finish|
|Non Playoff Team||Games Played||Wins||Losses||Overtime Losses||Points||Predicted Finish|
So, what will it take for the Habs to make the NHL Playoffs?
Well, they now have 81 points in the bank, and would need to get to 92 just to be safe. That gives the Canadiens 13 games to get 11 points and be sure of playing postseason hockey this year.
A record of 5-7-1 over the final 13 games is what it will take for the Habs to be in the postseason for the second consecutive season.