As the Habs were putting the finishing touches on the Jets season, I had a sudden thought. It seemed to me that all the teams that fared poorly in the play-in round in the 2020 bubble were also gone quickly in the 2021 playoffs, upsets included. So I went to check. In bold, 2020 winner. In Italics, the 2020 losing team's 2021 result
2020 : Montréal - Pittsburgh. in 2021, Pens Lost in the 1st round ; Montréal 2021 : 3rd round bound
2020 : Carolina - Rangers : in 2021: Rangers : not in playoffs ; Carolina is still alive in 2nd round
2020 : Islanders - Panthers: in 2021: Panthers eliminated 1st round, Islanders : still alive ;
2020 Toronto - Colombus : in 2021: Toronto lost in first round, Colombus not in playoffs
2020 Edmonton-Chicago : in 2021, Edmonton lost in 1st round, Chicago not in playoffs
2020: Nashville - Arizona : in 2021, Nashville lost in 1st round, Arizona not in playoffs
2020 Vancouver - Minnesota : in 2021, Minnesota lost in 1st round, Vancouver not in playoffs
2020 Calgary - Winnipeg : in 2021, Winnipeg lost in 2nd round, Calgary not in playoffs.
A few things come to mind here.
- Of all 8 losing teams in that 2020 play-in, all but 1 made the 2021 playoffs.
- Of those 7 playoff teams, only one remained in the second round, as Winnipeg beat fellow 2020 play-in loser Edmonton.
- Of the winning 8 teams, 5 did NOT make the 2021 playoffs.
- The remaining 3 2020 winners that made the playoffs also won in 2021's first round. In the 2021 second round, the Islanders look alive against Boston, while the Hurricanes will need something going against Tampa.
- The Habs made the playoffs by the skin of their teeth in both 2020 and 2021. But in total keeping with the correlation of the 2020 play in bubble on the 2021 playoffs, they are still alive. Maybe by feasting on 2020 losers (Toronto and then Winnipeg).
It's amazing to see such correlation. Recall that in 2020, the super-powers were not in the play-in, and in 2021 they faced the likes of Minnesota (Vegas) and Florida (Tampa). Nashville (2020 loser) lost to Carolina (2020 winner); Pittsburgh (2020 loser) lost to the Islanders (2020 winner). Toronto (2020 loser) and Winnipeg (2020 loser) lost to Montreal (2020 winner). I'll call the Edmonton-Winnipeg series a wash there. 2 of those "best" teams also did not make the 2021 playoffs (Philly and Dallas, the latter with a hellish COVID-19 affected schedule).
So, I'd say there is also an explanation with regards to strength of teams. But no 2020 play-in loser, even if that loss was an upset, could cause an upset or win in 2021; in Toronto's case, they lost in an upset to a 2020 winner. Pittsburgh also were upset in 2020; they could not get over the Islanders in 2021 after finishing first in the East division.
Playoff hockey is a different animal. I think this is quite an interesting view of why Bergevin felt his team was ready for a splurge. The main problem was to get there in the first place. Steve Dangle basically says now that he had an epiphany that the regular season means nothing. Of course, with half the teams not in the playoffs, that's not true. You need to qualify. But then, playoffs need a bit of a different mentality, and now the Habs have it.