The Eastern Conference is a silly place this year. The shortened season is largely to blame for that.
In spite of being outscored 15-7 and dropping 3 of the first 4 games in the season series, the Toronto Maple Leafs are the weakest opponent available in the East heading into the playoffs.
A regulation loss against the Leafs would guarantee that the two teams meet in the playoffs, while a win could give the Canadiens the Northeast Division crown and 2nd place in the East.
A 2nd seed could see the Canadiens face the Rangers, Islanders, or Senators. All three are stronger teams overall than the percentage riding Leafs, but thinking only of the first round seems a little bit flawed with this team.
A 2nd seed guarantees home ice for two rounds instead of one, which could be a major difference maker in the Habs' fortunes this spring.
The Canadiens face a choice. Do you rest your veterans and be satisfied with the possibility of finishing 4th, mitigating as much possibility of injury as possible, or do you go for the stranglehold and force the Bruins to win out?