While the Canadiens were picking up a single point in their 2-1 shootout loss at Raleigh, Toronto was beating Tampa Bay and the New York Islanders were edging Winnipeg 5-4. That combination of results means the Canadiens, with one game remaining on their schedule can finish no better that 28th in the league’s overall final standings, or third position in next Tuesday’s Draft Lottery.
There is still a possibility the Canadiens could move up to the second Lottery position if the Oilers were to win their final game of the season in Vancouver while the Canadiens were losing at home to Toronto. The teams would be tied and the Canadiens would lose (win?) on the first tie-break which is wins minus shootout victories. Still with me? Both games will be played Saturday night. (see standings below)
Adding It Up –
….Taking Over – It was David Desharnais’ turn to be the dominant player on the Canadiens number one line. Not only was his creativity a notch above his norm, he had three grade-A scoring chances in the game, and forced Cam Ward to come up with the save of the game midway through the second period.
…. Homecoming – Tomas Kaberle, who was traded to the Canadiens by the Hurricanes, came off the injury list to produce five shots on goal playing mostly with Chris Campoli. Erik Cole again was a physical force with 3 shots but only two scoring chances. He hit the post on the Canadiens final shootout attempt.
….Penalty Killer – How many times this season has Tomas Plekanec had a breakaway while killing penalties. Add two more to the long list. Rene Bourque kicked the puck ahead to him for a clear break late in the second period and he broken in on a 2 on 1 with Michael Blunden midway through the second.
….Big Body – 6’4” 211 lb. Michael Blunden was very much involved in this game. He and linemates Lars Eller and Blake Geoffrion produced a more offense than we’ve seen most of the year out of the third line. Blunden’s hard shot created the rebound that led to the Canadiens goal on the Geoffrion wraparound. Part of his statistical line – 4 shooting attempts, 2 hits, 2 blocked shots and four minutes of penalty killing time. A good night’s work.
….Getting Some Rest – After 27 glittering minutes against Tampa Wednesday night, P.K. Subban found a way to cut his ice time. He spent six minutes in the penalty box including minor penalties separated by five seconds in the third period. From 27 minutes Wednesday to 20 minutes in this game. P.K. leads the entire league with 46 minor penalties.
….The Backup – Peter Budaj played in his third straight game. The only thing that prevented him from posting a win was Cam Ward at the other end of the ice. Budaj stopped 28 of 29 shots. He was especially good in the third period as his teammates started to run out of gas. He stopped Tlusty point blank. He stopped a Jokinen shot with his facemask and late in the game stopped Skinner and Larose on breakaways.
….Scene Stealer – Gabriel Dumont made every one of his eight shifts a memorable one. Playing a lot bigger than his 5’10” 190 lbs he managed to really stir up the pot. He put checked Tim Brent right over the boards in the game’s fifth minute. And twice he successfully took on 6’3”Joni Pitkanen.
…..Also Worth Mentioning –……Frederic St. Denis is a keeper. Another strong night. One of his three blocked shots literally saved a goal in the second period. His first pass was authoritative and he never seemed to put himself in a difficult position. …..Chris Campoli had one of his better nights. ……. Andrei Markov, playing in his second game in 24 hours, looked no worse for wear. Ward stopped him on a breakaway. He logged just under 20 minutes, almost half of it on special teams.
Up Next – The season finale. Canadiens vs. Toronto at the Bell Centre Saturday night.
The Draft Lottery Race –Updated After Games of April 5th – (Each of the teams still in the running for a top five lottery pick has one game remaining on their schedule. All games will be played Saturday)
22nd – Tampa Bay 82 pts. @ Winnipeg Saturday.
23rd – Carolina 82 pts. @Florida Saturday
24th – Minnesota 81 pts. At home vs. Phoenix
25th – Anaheim 80 pts @Calgary
26th – Toronto 80 pts. @Montreal
27th – NY Islanders 79 pts. @Columbus
28th – Canadiens 76 pts. At home vs. Toronto
29th – Edmonton 74 pts. @Vancouver
30th – Columbus 63 pts At home vs. Islanders
NHL By-Law 27.3
At the conclusion of the regular Schedule of Championship Games the standing of the teams in each Conference shall be determined in accordance with the following priorities in the order listed:
a) First place in each of the three divisions seeded 1, 2 and 3.
b) The higher number of points earned by the Club.
c) The greater number of games won by the Club (excluding games won in the Shootout).
d) The higher number of points earned in games against each other among two or more Clubs having equal standing under priorities (b) and (c).
e) The greater differential between goals scored for and against by clubs having equal standing under priority (d).