Mar 25, 2014; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens center Daniel Briere (48) (right) celebrates his goal against Buffalo Sabres with teammates defenseman Alexei Emelin (74) and left wing Rene Bourque (17) and right wing Brian Gionta (21) and defenseman Mike Weaver (43) during the third period at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Montreal Canadiens Recent Hot Streak All But Assures A Playoff Spot

Mar 25, 2014; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens celebrate their win against Buffalo Sabres after the third period at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

The Montreal Canadiens won their third straight game last night with a win over the Buffalo Sabres, and greatly improved their playoff positioning with wins in six of their past seven games.

Montreal currently sits second in the Atlantic Division with 89 points. They are two points ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning who have two games in hand. The Habs are also nine 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, 91 points would be just enough to make the playoffs if teams continue at their current pace. Again, a surge by Washington or Toronto could skew this a bit but not by much, and not at all if it is met with a drop in play by the Rangers or Columbus.

What this chart tells us is that if the Montreal Canadiens find a way to get 91 points they are playing with fire but could make the playoffs. If Montreal plays well and finishes with the 97 points they are on pace for, they will be battling for home ice in the opening round of the playoffs.

 

Atlantic Team Games Played   Wins   Losses Overtime Losses   Points Predicted Finish
Boston    72    49    17    6    104   118
Tampa Bay    72    39    24    9    87    99
Montreal    74    41    26    7    89    99

 

Metropolitan Team Games Played   Wins   Losses Overtime Losses   Points Predicted Finish
Pittsburgh    72    46    21     5    97    110
Philadelphia    71    38    26     7    83     96
NY Rangers    73    40    29     4    84     94

 

Wildcard Team Games Played    Wins   Losses Overtime Losses   Points Predicted Finish
Detroit    72    33    25     14    80    91
Columbus    72    37    29     6    80    91

 

Non Playoff Team Games Played Wins Losses Overtime Losses Points Predicted Finish
Washington 73 34 27 12 80 90
Toronto 74 36 30 8 80 89
New Jersey 72 31 28 13 75 85
Ottawa 72 29 29 14 72 82
Carolina 72 31 32   9 71 81
Islanders 72 28 35   9 65 74
Florida 73 27 38   8 62 70
Buffalo 72 20 44   8 48 55

 

So, what will it take for the Habs to make the NHL Playoffs?

Well, they now have 89 points in the bank, and would need to get to 93 just to be safe. That gives the Canadiens 8 games to get 4 points to be sure of playing postseason hockey this year.

A record of 2-6-0 or 1-5-2 over the final 8 games is all it will take for the Habs to be in the postseason for the second consecutive season.

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