So……what team do you think would match up with best for the Canadiens in the first round of the the playoffs?   

  As I write this, the Canadiens are 6th in the Eastern Conference and they would be meeting third place Boston. That could change drastically over the final three days of the schedule.  There’s a strong chance it could be Philadelphia.  And even Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay are in the picture.  Four points separate second and fifth place and each of the teams has two games left to play.   (see standings below)

The one constant in today’s NHL is inconsistency.  Baskin-Robbins has had fewer flavours of the month than the Eastern Conference has exhibited this season.

Right now it’s Washington.  But how did you like them when they were losing eight in a row in December? (0-6-2)

In January and February it was Philadelphia.  On January 25th, the Canadiens caught them in the middle of a 15-4-0 streak.  People, myself included, were saying the Flyers had to be considered the most dominant team in the Eastern Conference.  What do we know?  Since the end of the streak on February 16 the Flyers are 7-7-6 and a nine point lead over the Capitals has become a four point Capitals lead in the conference. 

Early in the season, there were those who had already anointed Guy Boucher coach of the year and Tampa as a potential Stanley Cup finalist.  Over fifteen games in March they were 3-9-2.

And the Bruins.  They lost six of seven last month.

What we’re saying is, in the Eastern Conference there have been no teams sailing through the schedule only with minor bumps along the way a la  the Vancouver Canucks.

 It also tells us that, if the Canadiens are playing well, they’re capable of beating any team in the Eastern Conference.  There just isn’t that much difference top to bottom.   

The Eastern Standings going into games of Friday April 8th (Philadelphia@Buffalo; Florida @Tampa; Pittsburgh@NY Islanders; Carolina@Atlanta)

                              GP      Pts.                     Next Games

1st –Washington     81    107**  –          @FLA Saturday

2nd -Philadelphia    80    103**             @BUF  Fri; vs.NYI Saturday

3rd – Boston            80     101**              vs.OTT Saturday; @NJD Sunday

4th – Pittsburgh       80     102                 @NYI Friday; @ATL Sunday

5th – Tampa Bay     80      99                  vs. FLA Friday; @CAR Saturday

6th –  Canadiens     81      94                  @ TOR Saturday

7th –   Buffalo           80      92                   vs. PHA Friday; @CBJ Saturday

8th  – NY Rangers    81      91                   vs. NJD Saturday

9th –  Carolina          80      89                    @ATL Friday; vs. TBY Saturday

Eliminated – Toronto, Atlanta, New Jersey, NY Islanders, Ottawa and Florida.