On February 5th the Canadiens shutout the New York Rangers 2-0 at the Bell Centre. The win moved the Canadiens into sixth place in the Eastern Conference and, but for a three day flirtation with fifth place, they’ve been there for most of the last twenty six games.
Not that it’s been an easy ride. And the pressure’s on again. With three games left in the season, their hold on sixth is again in jeopardy. The Buffalo Sabres beat the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 in overtime. Earlier in the day in another three-point game the New York Rangers beat the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 in a shootout. And now sixth to eighth place are separated by two points while the loser’s point put the Flyers in a first place tie with Washington.
The final week’s schedule doesn’t favour the Canadiens. Two of their three games are on the road and the home game is against Chicago. The Black Hawks are in their own survival battle, holding eighth in the West one point ahead of Calgary after Sunday’s games.
All three of the Rangers remaining games are at home. Buffalo plays Tampa and Philadelphia at home before winding up their season at Columbus.
Of course, Carolina is still in the mix. Toronto is a longshot, five points behind the Rangers with three games left. In order for them to make the playoffs they would have to win all three of their games while both the Rangers and Hurricanes lose all of three of their own.
Standings Left Pts Remaining Games
6th – Canadiens (3) 91 Tues. vs Chi; Thurs @Ott; Sat @Tor
7th – Buffalo (3) 90 Tues vs TB; Fri vs. Phil; Sat@CBJ
8th – NY Rangers (3) 89 Mon. vs Bos; Thurs vs.Atl Sun.vs NJ
9th – Carolina (3) 87 Wed.vs Det; Fri@Atlanta; Sat vs. TBL
10th -Toronto (3) 84 Tues vs. Wash; Wed.@ NJ; Sat vs Mtl
If the playoffs were to open tomorrow, the Canadiens would play Boston in the opening round.