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For all their inefficiences, the Canadiens are too good to get swept

The Habs haven't given themselves the best chance to win, they're not playing the ideal way, but they deserve better than this.

Mike Carlson/Getty Images

So much of the NHL playoffs is rolling the dice. Injury, a hot goalie, a bad bounce, a phantom call, anything could go against a good team and be just enough to tip the scales in favour of an early exit. After winning the Stanley Cup in 2010, the Chicago Blackhawks went out in the first round two straight years. Sure, they were in a mini-rebuild after terrible mismanagement that ended up getting Dale Tallon fired, but those teams were better than first round exits would show.

The Montreal Canadiens of the regular season weren't better than a second round exit, no matter what the win/loss record states. Much of their season was smoke and mirrors relying on the record-breaking play of Carey Price, and the game-breaking ability of P.K. Subban and Max Pacioretty. By the numbers, a second round exit at the hands of the Lightning would fairly predictable, even a sweep, but the run of play in the series hasn't reflected the regular season.

The Canadiens play stupid hockey, there's no need to beat around the bush on that. They make inefficient, desperate plays their norm instead a last resort, and play a system that reduces goalscoring while not suppressing scoring chances against. While they're slightly more aggressive in the way they play in the playoffs, the system hasn't changed, they're a perimeter team.

They deserve better

All that out in the open, the Canadiens don't deserve to be down 3-0 in this series against the Tampa Bay Lightning, and though it may happen, and is even likely to happen, they're just too good to be swept like this.

Are the Canadiens taking a lot of quality shots? No.

Have they had mental lapses that have caused them to give up goals at the worst times? Yes.

The fact is though, they have outplayed the Lightning very significantly through three games. In fact, they've outplayed the Lightning more significantly than the Anaheim Ducks have outplayed the Calgary Flames. Montreal Has a sterling 56.1% score-adjusted Corsi (shot attempt differential) at even strength, 58.3% unadjusted.

Even if the Canadiens aren't getting the best quality scoring chances, they're still getting 56.9% of all the scoring chances at even strength according to War on Ice, adjust that for game situation and it's still an excellent 55.3%. Yet, the Canadiens are scoring on just 3.86% of their shots on goal in this series, of which they've taken 104.

The shot quality argument is real, the Canadiens haven't done a good enough job generating good chances, but according to Olivier Bouchard's chance tracking, the Habs have a 49-36 advantage in even strength chances (57.6%), and a 25-19 (56.8%) advantage in those green shots we talked about before. Any way you slice it, the Habs have still been better.

The Lightning may be the better team, but they haven't played like it. They've been far more lucky than good in this series, with a PDO of 109 in all situations.

Unfortunately, deserves has got nothing to do with it in the playoffs.