The Montreal Canadiens start to the season has been abysmal. They began with a five game losing streak that saw them score four goals, and it only got slightly better from there.
They now sit second last in the Eastern Conference, thanks to an equally inept Ottawa Senators team, and they are third worst in the entire NHL, with the Arizona Coyotes hot on their heels.
But, it is early right?
I mean, the Canadiens have 61 more games to play. Surely, there is still some room for optimism in this terrible start to the campaign, right? Well, not really. American Thanksgiving has become a bit of a barometer to predict the teams that will make the postseason. It is the unofficial quarter pole of the NHL schedule, but a lot of the guesswork might already be out of the playoff question.
The last two years were not what we could call normal seasons, so it doesn’t make sense to compare to those. But, the years leading up to the Covid cancellations? Not many teams were able to move from a non-playoff position to a playoff spot after American Thanksgiving.
In fact, it happened for 18 teams from the 2013-14 to 2017-18 seasons. That is a five year span, so 3-4 teams usually make the playoffs after being out of it on this day each season.
Do the Canadiens look capable of being one of those handful of teams this season? Not at all. They are already ten points out of a playoffs spot and would have to jump over seven teams to make it into the postseason.
With the Metropolitan Division so stacked this season, no one in the Atlantic Division is likely to get a wildcard spot. That means the Canadiens most likely path to a playoff spot is to somehow get ahead of two of the Florida Panthers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins.
Best of luck. It might only be the quarter pole but everyone else has pulled away ahead and the Canadiens just don’t have the roster necessary to go on a ridiculous run for the final 61 games.