The Montreal Canadiens ranked 24th in the NHL this season. The Boston Bruins had a significant lead on the rest of the NHL at the time of the pause, going on to claim the Presidents’ Trophy by an eight-point margin. In a playoff format that seeds worst against first in each round of the playoffs, a Habs-Bruins matchup was a possibility in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
However, since the four teams in each conference that weren’t part of the qualifying round that teams seeded fifth to 12th in each conference are now participating in, they chose to play a round-robin tournament of their own. A battle for the conference’s top spot for seeding reasons would be on the line as a means of motivating the teams. Rather than simply sitting idle and watch their future opponents playing for their post-season lives, they had their own incentive to get up to speed ahead of the official 16-team playoff tournament.
However, the regular season’s best team hasn’t gotten up to speed yet in its games so far. After losing to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the exhibition game, they’ve gone on to lose to the Philadelphia Flyers and Tampa Bay Lightning in the first two games of the round robin. Because of those results, they can no longer finish as the top seed, and won’t draw the lowest-ranked team that survives the qualifiers.
Montreal still has a lot of work to do versus the Pittsburgh Penguins to be the team to play the top seed, and few people have them favoured to come out of this best-of-five series. If they do pull off the shock upset, the earliest they could face their rival from Boston would be in the second round, when a reseed will be performed once more.