How Low Can Montreal Canadiens Go?

Feb 21, 2024; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens head coach Martin St-Louis
Feb 21, 2024; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens head coach Martin St-Louis / Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

The Montreal Canadiens were not expected to be a playoff team this season. After finishing in the bottom five of the NHL standings last season, and dead last in the overall standings the previous year, expectations were quite low.

The Canadiens did well to surpass those expectations for the first half of the season. They were hanging around the edges of the playoff race for quite some time, though they were rarely actually inside a playoff spot.

Still, it seemed like the entire first half of the season saw them scratching and clawing to grab points and keep adding points in the standings here and there even when they lost. There was a lot of overtime action so losses would give them a single point and they avoided any lengthy losing streaks to hang around a points percentage of 0.500 on the season for a while.

However, the Canadiens have now lost four games in a row for the first time this season. All of those losses were in regulation and it puts them in their first real tailspin of the 2023-24 campaign. They were sputtering a little bit before this four game stretch as well and are now 3-9-1 in their past 13 games.

This drops their record to 22-27-8 on the season as it was 19-18-7 after 44 games. They were on pace for 84 points a month ago but are now on pace for just 75. Since trading away Sean Monahan, the Canadiens are just 2-4-0 and just don't have the depth to compete with NHL teams on a nightly basis any more.

It really starts to turn the question into, how low is this team going to go this season?

Right now they are 26th in the overall league standings. That puts them in line for the 7th overall draft pick in the upcoming NHL Draft. However, with the way they have been performing since the All-Star break, you could see them drop even further.

The Ottawa Senators have been playing well lately and are suddenly just one point back of the Canadiens and have played three less games giving them a much better points percentage on the year.

The Arizona Coyotes are in a wild tailspin of their own, losing 11 straight, but were playing quite well for the first half of the season.

The Columbus Blue Jackets are a team in quite a bit of turmoil as well and sit a handful of points back of the Canadiens while not ever playing great hockey this season.

The bottom of the pack includes the San Jose Sharks and Chicago Blackhawks who will be lucky to end the season with the 52 points the Canadiens have now. The Anaheim Ducks are ten points back of the Canadiens and won't make up that ground very quickly.

With those three at the bottom, it is almost impossible to imagine the Canadiens landing a top three spot in the draft lottery this spring. The Blue Jackets are likely to hang on to a bottom four spot as well.

Ironically, or just because they are really bad, those are the four teams that picked ahead of the Canadiens last season as well.

It looks like the Senators are about to fly past the Canadiens but the Coyotes and Habs are going to have to battle it out for a top five spot in the draft lottery.... which is exactly what happened last season with the Canadiens landing the fifth pick and Arizona picking sixth.

Are we just going to see the same draft order as last season when it went Chicago, Anaheim, Columbus, San Jose, Montreal and San Jose? I would say a lot can change between now and the end of the season but it appears nothing has changed since last April.

That would put the Canadiens in line to pick an excellent prospect once again, but don't expect them to be one of the first four teams to head to the stage in June.