Injuries and desperation - Is there any hope left for Montreal?

USA TODAY Sports

The Habs are down 3-1 in a series they deserve to be leading 3-1, but is it over?

A series is never over until one team wins 4 games. 3 years ago the Washington Capitals took a dominant 3-1 series lead against the Montreal Canadiens and there was essentially no hope that anything was going to happen. But when a team's back is against the wall, sometimes things change a little bit.

In the last 3 years, the Canadiens are 7-2 when facing elimination. Does that mean anything? Probably not.

After being relatively healthy all season long, the Canadiens have been limping down the stretch. Losing Alexei Emelin clearly hurt defensive depth, Michael Ryder has been hurt for awhile, and since this series has started we've seen injuries to Lars Eller, Max Pacioretty, Brian Gionta, Brandon Prust, Ryan White, and now Carey Price.

The Canadiens' two best players down the stretch are both neutralized, as Eller remains out and Pacioretty is not himself. The captain is out, Raphael Diaz is forced to punch above his weight, and the starting goaltender is gone. Add in a versatile bottom six forward and a fourth line center, and it's a lot to overcome.

When you add in the factor of the percentages going against them, it's even worse. At even strength, the Canadiens have a 947 PDO, drawn from a .893 even strength save percentage and a 5.4% even strength shooting percentage. That would place them at the bottom of the NHL in the regular season by nearly 20 percentage points.

Compound that with being unable to draw a call for half of the series, and you have a team that's outpossessed their opponents by a wide margin in 3 of 4 games and lost 3 of 4.

It's possible that Peter Budaj stands on his head and the shooting luck reverses over the next 3 games, anything can happen. There's always a chance that the horrible officiating will shift in Montreal's favour as well.

What's obvious though, is that the Canadiens are true underdogs now.


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