Insane Comback Against Ducks Places Habs On The Playoff Path
Fifteen regular season games to go folks, before the real season begins. Should the Canadiens keep finding ways to win like they did in Anaheim Sunday night, they wil be part of them.
Consider that the Habs were down by three after a period and needed a pair of goals in the final two minutes to tie. With Jaroslav Halak pulled for a sixth attacker and Andrei Markov picking his glove off the ice after being whacked on the wrist by Corey Perry, Bobby Ryan hits the post on the open net. The play turns up ice and who should score but Markov.
After five minutes of overtime, the game heads to a shootout. Anaheim has a one goal lead when Sniper Teemu Selanne shoots over the crossbar. Now all Ducks' goalie Jonas Hiller needs to do is stop Brian Gionta. Hiller makes the save, but loses sight of the puck which is trapped under his arm. He slides backwards over the goal line, and the puck drops into the net. The play is reviewed and the goal counts.
With the shootout tied, everyone in the world figured that Ducks coach Randy Carlyle would send out former Canadiens captain Saku Koivu, a shootout natural if there ever was one. But no, Carlyle deduces that the man for the situation is not Koivu, nor Ryan, but defenseman James Wisniewski, who has all of three goals this season.
What on God's earth was going through Carlyle's mind?
With the win, the Canadiens jump back into seventh place, one point up on the Boston Bruins who have three games in hand. By taking six of a possible eight points on the road trip, the Habs have placed destiny in their own hands going into the final sprint.
The Rangers, in ninth place with 67 points, cannot catch the Canadiens by winning their game in hand. The tenth place Thrashers would need to win two of three games in hand to equal Montreal, who would then still have more wins. This coming week, the Habs play the Lightning, Oilers and Bruins, and it present s a golden opportunity for them to create some cushion room down the stretch.
As it stands, Montreal has the least amount of games left to play at fifteen among teams fighting for playoff spots. Nine of those games are at home and six are on the road. Additionally, only five (Sabres twice, Senators, Flyers and Devils) of those fifteen games are against teams above them in the overall standings. The Canadiens final three games are against the Eastern Conference's bottom three clubs, the Hurricanes, Islanders and Maple Leafs.
Could they ask for better?
By all calculations, Montreal would need between 87 and 89 points to qualify for the post season, which means that should they win nine of fifteen they should make it in. All they essentially have to do is beat the teams they should.
If only it were that easy!