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After beating the Panthers, the Canadiens focus shifts to the Blue Jackets

A true four-point game awaits the two playoff contenders.

NHL: Florida Panthers at Montreal Canadiens Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

One of the more well-known press conferences held by NFL head coach Bill Belichick is one following a loss, where he answered every question saying the team’s focus is on their next game, against the Cincinnati Bengals.

For the Montreal Canadiens, it’s not Cincinnati but another city in Ohio that their focus shifts to after their dominant 6-1 win over the Florida Panthers: Columbus.

In an 82 game season, the words “big game” and “must-win” are used to make some games feel more important. When you get to the second half of the season, the vernacular adds “four-point game”, a game where the swing is, you guessed it, four points.

There is nothing exaggerating how big Thursday’s game against Columbus really is. If Montreal wins in regulation, they will be four points up and fully in control of their own destiny. If Columbus wins in regulation, the two teams will be tied and Columbus holds a game in hand.

Of course, there is still a scenario where both of these teams make the playoffs as the Carolina Hurricanes remain in striking distance, but if either team misses the playoffs, you can’t say that they didn’t play a playoff game. Thursday night will be a playoff game.

Montreal’s performance against the Panthers on Tuesday was exactly what they needed. So many times, we see them play down to their opponent. We see them take a team that played the night before and make them look rested. That didn’t happen on Tuesday.

The only negative was Paul Byron’s injury which is officially an upper-body ailment, but Montreal really didn’t need to specify that. At this point they can only hope it wasn’t as bad as it looked, and it looked really bad.

Much like the Patriots in the above video, talking about the past doesn’t really matter at this point. The Canadiens won on Tuesday, but they also need to win on Thursday. They’ll put the two points from the Panthers game in the bank, and it’s on to the next challenge. There are five games to go, and the biggest one is the next one.

Montreal’s on to Columbus.