Montreal Canadiens Could Make Noise in 24 Team Playoff Format

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 06: Shea Weber #6 and Carey Price #31 of the Montreal Canadiens celebrate a 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on December 06, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 06: Shea Weber #6 and Carey Price #31 of the Montreal Canadiens celebrate a 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on December 06, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The Montreal Canadiens appeared to be on their way to a third straight season without playoffs. Now, it sounds like an extended playoffs could happen in the spring. The Habs would be a tough team to beat in this format.

The Montreal Canadiens were on their way to a third consecutive season without playoffs before the entire hockey world came to a screeching halt. They had a pair of eight game losing streaks that were impossible to overcome and they became sellers at the trade deadline, basically waving the white flag in the process.

They just missed out on the postseason last year as they finished with 96 points but could not get into a wild card position that was taken by the Columbus Blue Jackets who had 98 points.

It was not going to be as close this season, and it looked certain that the Habs would finish somewhere in the bottom ten of the league standings. With basically the same lineup, minus Andrew Shaw and plus Nick Suzuki, it is disappointing to see the Habs so far from the playoffs.

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Now, it seems like the playoffs still might be a possibility for the Habs. There have been plenty of insiders and reporters tossing around the idea that the NHL is planning to jump right into a 24-team playoff when they finally can get back to business.

The Montreal Canadiens current ranking? 24th.

That means if the league does expand its playoff format to include more teams following its current hiatus, the Canadiens two-year playoff drought would be over. On the surface, it would seem that the 24th ranked team would not stand a chance in the playoffs, but there is a possibly the Habs could make some noise in this type of format.

First of all, the Habs would be as healthy as they have been since the middle of November. When Jonathan Drouin and Paul Byron were both injured on November 15th, the Habs had just soundly defeated the Washington Capitals and were near the top of the league standings with a record of 11-5-3. They showed early on they could beat anybody when healthy, as they also had wins over the Boston Bruins, Vegas Golden Knights, Philadelphia Flyers, Toronto Maple Leafs twice and St. Louis Blues twice.

This was when Drouin, Byron, Tomas Tatar, Brendan Gallagher, Victor Mete and Joel Armia were all healthy. Then, the Habs went the rest of the schedule without a fully healthy lineup. They didn’t have nearly as much success, but with enough time off they could come back at 100% health when the NHL doors reopen.

The Canadiens were a potent, dangerous team early on and Carey Price was not even at the top of his game. As the injuries piled up (and the eight game losing streaks did too) the team dropped in the standings. Then, Price found his game and was exceptional for an extended period, which brought the Habs back near the fringes of the playoff picture.

This led to the Habs playing Price more than any other goaltender in the league. The workload seemed to catch up with him and he was not at his best in February.

Well, after a lengthy break, not only will the Habs be back to full health, but their key veterans like Price and Shea Weber would be fresher than they have ever been in a playoff series.

Weber started the year on fire, putting up 31 points in his first 39 games played. He slowed down considerably after Christmas, with just five points in his last 26 games. After having an extended break, Weber would be much closer to the player he was in the first half of the season, ready to take on 25 minutes per night and put up close to a point per game in the playoffs.

This break could also be good for Nick Suzuki. The rookie had “hit a wall” lately according to his coach. Sitting out for a month or so and then getting back into the game could really help Suzuki get back to the creative player he was for most of the season before slowing down recently.

It remains to be seen what the NHL will do when they can finally return to action. If the Habs do have more games to play this season, they will have Tatar back healthy, Suzuki should be back to his top form and most importantly, Price and Weber will be rested and ready to dominate again.

Next. What would 24 team playoff look like for Habs?. dark

They will look like the team that started the year 11-5-3 and made a habit out of beating the best teams in the league. That could translate very well to the new playoff format that is rumoured to be coming into effect when the NHL is finally able to return to game action.