With the post-season approaching, now is the time to see if the Montreal Canadiens can win a cup
The NHL regular season is almost finished, which means playoffs are just a few weeks away. Sixteen teams will make it to the post-season, but only one team will come away with the Stanley Cup. Of course, since we are in Montreal, now is a great time to look at our beloved bleu, blanc et rouge’s chances at a championship.
Thanks to goaltender Carey Price, captain Max Pacioretty and new forward Alex Radulov, the Habs have led the Atlantic division all season long. In the past few weeks, the Ottawa Senators have come close to taking the lead, but the Habs were able to increase their division lead by beating the Senators in three straight games. With only a few games left, the Habs have a comfortable division lead and will most likely win it.
This means in the first round of the playoffs, the Canadiens will play against the New York Rangers. Since the Rangers are in a strong Metropolitan division, they got stuck as a wild card team, despite having more points than the Canadiens for most of the season. In the first round, the Habs will have a home-ice advantage.
The Rangers are a fairly young team with players like forwards J.T Miller and Mika Zibanejad. This season, they were a high-scoring team, however, the Rangers struggled on defence with veteran goaltender Henrik Lundqvist letting in more goals than usual.
They’re a good team, but the Habs have enjoyed quite a bit of success against them this season. The Habs won the last two meetings of the season against them, and Lundqvist is notorious for playing poorly at the Bell Centre.
While there are no guarantees, the Rangers are definitely a beatable team and, with the Habs on the upswing after hiring head coach Claude Julien, they should be able to advance. As long as Carey Price stays healthy, I see the Habs winning the first round in six games.
Once the team moves to the second round, they will play the winner of the other Atlantic division series. While the playoff picture has not been ironed out yet, the other round will either be Ottawa against Toronto or Ottawa against Boston. Either way, the Senators are the superior team in each situation as their goaltending, offence and defence have all been clicking this year.
In a seven-game series with the Habs, once again, I see the Habs taking this in six. Ottawa has been good, but the Habs won the last three match-ups of the season against the Sens and, at this point, they are in their heads. I predict Price would win the goalie duel against Anderson and the Habs would frustrate the Sens with their speed. It would be a good series, but the Habs would take it.
With two playoff series won, the Habs would play in the Eastern Conference final. The favourites to make it there out of the Metropolitan division are the Pittsburgh Penguins or the Washington Capitals.
Regardless of which team makes it, that is where the Habs season will come to an end. The Penguins and the Capitals have been two of the best teams in the NHL all season, and the Habs haven’t shown they can beat them. Trying to beat either team four times in seven games is a feat I just don’t see the Habs doing. Their offence isn’t good enough and, while Price is one of the best goalie in the NHL, Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin are too powerful to stop, even for an elite-calibre goalie.
Maybe next year Montreal.