Montreal Canadiens Are Just Close Enough That Marc Bergevin Will Be Convinced Not To Sell

DALLAS, TX - JUNE 23: Marc Bergevin of the Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - JUNE 23: Marc Bergevin of the Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The Montreal Canadiens won again last night on the strength of a Carey Price shutout and two goals from Max Domi. Are they too close for Marc Bergevin to start selling?

The Montreal Canadiens have had an up and down year to say the very least. They play well for long stretches of games and make us fans think they have a pretty good team. Then they follow it up with such a long losing streak that we start to think they may never win another game as long as we all live.

The season started well, with the Habs going 11-5-3 in their first 19 games. That put them right up there in the NHL standings and some me thinking they could be Stanley Cup contenders if everything goes right and Carey Price starts playing as well as we know he can.

Well, then nothing went well for a while. The Canadiens lost their next eight games in a row dropping them way behind their starting pace. They followed that with a 7-3-0 record in their next ten games, getting back into the playoff chase and even having a real chance at finishing second in the Atlantic Division. Or so we thought.

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Their next eight game losing streak followed and that seemed to be the final nail in the team’s coffin. However, they came back from the dead once again like The Undertaker in WWE and went 9-3-0 in their next 12 to get back into the wildcard conversation. The Tampa Bay Lightning had caught fire by this time so second in the division was out of the question, but third? Maybe.

Then they lost five in a row and we all wrote them off for good. But then they won their last two and now if you stare at the standings the right way long enough, you start to think, can they?

I don’t think they can. They have played 64 games and have 66 points. The Toronto Maple Leafs hold the final playoff spot with 72 points in 63 games. That means the Leafs are six points ahead of Montreal and have played one less game. The Habs are also four points back of the Florida Panthers and have played two more games than the Cats.

I just don’t think they can leapfrog both of them down the stretch and have the distinct honor of being the team that gets obliterated by the Lightning in the opening round of the postseason.

However, if you break down the numbers and consider the two teams Montreal has to jump over, you can convince yourself that it is possible. This is probably where Marc Bergevin and Claude Julien fall. They haven’t and won’t give up hope until it is mathematically impossible, and right now it is not mathematically impossible.

Why else would Carey Price have played 15 of the pas 16 games for the Habs? Why else would Shea Weber and Brendan Gallagher come back so quickly from injuries? Why would Jonathan Drouin and Paul Byron be back in the lineup as soon as possible?

It’s because Bergevin and Julien think they can still get into the playoffs. And if we take a quick look at that math we mentioned earlier, it is not impossible, it is just highly improbable.

The Canadiens have 18 games left this season and have 66 points. Toronto has 19 games remaining and have 72 points. The Panthers have 20 games left to play and have 70 points.

The one thing that makes it possible, is the Panthers and Maple Leafs have proven several times lately that they can lose to just about anybody. The Panthers are 4-8-1 in their last 13 games. The Maple Leafs are 4-6-1 in their last 11 and lost to their own zamboni driver last night. Seriously.

So let’s just say neither team gets it rolling in the last six weeks of the regular season. What if the Panthers finish the season 9-9-2 in their final 20 and the Leafs go 8-9-2 the rest of the way? That would give them both 90 points at season’s end.

In order to get to 91 points, the Canadiens would need to go 12-5-1 in their final 18 games. That is not impossible for the Habs. They started the year 11-5-3, they are finally getting healthy for the first time since that was their record and they just had a 9-3-0 run with a few guys still on injured reserve.

They would need some help from the Panthers and Maple Leafs who would need to continue their recent poor play for the rest of the year. However, there is no easier time for Bergevin to convince himself that both division rivals in front of him will continue to lose than right now. The Panthers haven’t beaten a playoff team aside from the Maple Leafs in over a month and have a difficult schedule the rest of the way. Those Leafs couldn’t score on a beer league goaltender for the entire third period last night.

Bergevin and Julien have been optimistic all season when talking with the media. They are rushing players back from injuries and leaning on Price to play more often than any other goaltender in the league. They still think they are in it and if you look at their current situation there are enough reasons for optimism for Bergevin and Julien to convince themselves they can still make the playoffs.

Yes, they traded Marco Scandella. I don’t see that as them waving the white flag on the season as much as I saw it as an offer Bergevin could not refuse. He gave up a fourth round pick for Scandella and then was offered a second round pick and possibly a fourth for him. He couldn’t turn that down.

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I don’t think he is going to make any other selling trades unless it is an offer he can not turn down. He will talk himself into believing in this team’s chances of getting to the postseason, no matter how minuscule that probability actually is right now. I’m not saying I agree with that philosophy, but I think Bergevin and Julien sure do.