Montreal Canadiens: Habs Are Lowest Playoff Seed Ever, But Far From Worst Playoff Team Ever

TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 13: Bob Miller #18 of the Colorado Rockies. (Photo by Graig Abel Collection/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 13: Bob Miller #18 of the Colorado Rockies. (Photo by Graig Abel Collection/Getty Images) /
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The Montreal Canadiens could be the first 24th seed team to make The NHL playoffs. Still, they are far from the worst playoff team ever.

The Montreal Canadiens thought their season was done in February. A couple of eight game losing streaks and another ill-timed five game losing streak will do that to a team. By the time the NHL went on pause in the middle of March, it seemed like just a matter of time before the Habs were mathematically eliminated from the playoff picture.

Now, they are back in the running for that playoff spot. They will head to Toronto to play a best-of-five play-in series against the Pittsburgh Penguins with the winner clinching an official 2020 playoff spot.

If the Habs do find a way to beat the heavily favoured Pens team, they will be the first 24th ranked team in NHL history to gear up for a playoff series. That’s right, the Habs were sitting in 24th place when the NHL pushed the pause button, with 71 points in 71 games. But, if they can go 3-2 in their next five games, they will be a playoff team.

The NHL has used various different playoff formats, featuring a number of different teams, over the years. The most teams that ever qualified in one year was 16, and while that is technically the case this season, teams 17-24 have as good a chance of getting in as the 9th ranked team. It makes for some unique wrinkled in the playoffs, and leads to the possibility that the 24th best team in the regular season standings will be a playoff team for the first time ever.

While the Habs have a chance to be the lowest ranked team in the standings to get into the playoffs, they would be far from the worst team in NHL history to get in.

Throughout the history of the NHL, it has grown substantially from a league that had six teams for most of its foundational years, to a league that will soon have 32. As it grew, it changed its playoff format over the years, and for a while it was difficult to miss the postseason.

From 1980 to 1991 there were 21 teams in the league, but 16 of them made it into the playoffs. Just five teams missed out every year as the top 76% of the league were considered playoff caliber. This led to some extremely weak teams getting into the playoffs. Of course, before 1967 there were just six teams and four of them qualified each year. You just had to be better than two teams in the regular season and you were eight wins away from a Stanley Cup.

Also, keep in mind that before the year 2000 there was no such thing as a point for an overtime loss. If you lost the game, you lost the game and were rewarded zero points, meaning there were no “three point games.”

Since the invention of the three point game, we haven’t seen a team make the playoffs with less than 87 points when the Wild snuck in with that total in 2016. Oddly enough, we have only seen a team with less than 90 points get into the playoff on two other occasions since 2000, and that was the Philadelphia Flyers and Montreal Canadiens in 2010. The odd part is, they met each other in the Eastern Conference Final.

Those teams put up paltry point totals while earning a playoff spot, but they are far from the worst teams to get in. Let’s quickly count down the worst five teams to ever make the playoffs, and the 2020 Montreal Canadiens are nowhere near this list.