The second-best thing for the Montreal Canadiens this season

MONTREAL, QC - FEBRUARY 27: Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QC - FEBRUARY 27: Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

The Montreal Canadiens are not making the playoffs, but they can still cause some damage and Saturday night against the Hurricanes was an example.

The goal of an NHL organization with a good sense of realism and a competitive roster is to make the playoffs. However, some teams try to fool themselves and squeak in while others are destined to be at the bottom of the standings. Though by the Trade Deadline, the league, it’s analysts and fans know who is who and the Montreal Canadiens should know by now where they stand.

With Saturday night’s win against the Carolina Hurricanes, the Montreal Canadiens are fifth in the Atlantic Division, 12th in the Eastern Conference, and 23rd in the league with 69 points. The team has 15 games left and could only match their point total from last season if they went 14-1-0. But not even that was enough to get the Habs in the playoffs last year, and the same is going to be said about this season.

So what do non-playoff teams have to play for after the Trade Deadline?

Pride is one, but if you’re a team where competing every night isn’t a gold-platted standard, things won’t change. Perhaps it’s an opportunity to evaluate the young talent in the organization. The Habs have already started that to an extent with recalling Jake Evans from the Laval Rocket on Deadline day, even though it was out of a necessity due to the truckload of injuries.

There is one more thing that can get a non-playoff team going, and that’s the schadenfreude, the enjoyment of other’s displeasure. The Montreal Canadiens were able to partake in some schadenfreude Saturday as they beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 in overtime.

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Montreal took a 3-0 lead via Philip Danault, Max Domi, and Brendan Gallagher. Unfortunately, the Canadiens took the foot off the gas and ended up letting the Hurricanes tie the game by the end of regulation. Carolina got one point, but Jeff Petry insured that was all they were going to get.

The Hurricanes loaded up at the Trade Deadline; however, there’s no guarantee they make the playoffs. They’re currently in a fight for one of the two wild-card spots with the New York Islanders and Columbus Blue Jackets.

Carolina had an opportunity to leapfrog one of those teams as the Islanders were shutout by Boston 4-0. A win against the Montreal Canadiens would’ve had them at 76 points, and 35 wins to bump off the Blue Jackets for the tiebreaker.

Doesn’t that feel great? The Habs and Hurricanes have had an interesting history since the Sebastian Aho offer sheet back in July. They do have two games in hand, but it’s still a nice feeling to play spoiler for those teams trying to backdoor their way into a playoff spot.

The Montreal Canadiens have another four opportunities to send some schadenfreude out to the Eastern Conference with two games each against the Florida Panthers and New York Islanders. The Panthers are desperately trying to overtake the Toronto Maple Leafs for third in the Atlantic Division but haven’t been consistent enough to do so yet.

You could argue that the final regular-season game on April 4th against the Leafs could be a spoiler opportunity for the Montreal Canadiens, depending on how March plays out.

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It won’t be as fun as making the playoffs, but being able to impact the state of the league is something to look forward to. The question now is, who is next?