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Montreal Canadiens fans are watching the standings from the bottom up

As the playoffs get farther and farther away, the focus from the outside becomes something different.

Montreal Canadiens v Vegas Golden Knights Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The games still matter. Fans are watching the scoreboard, just not for the reasons they usually do. The focus now is on the draft lottery.

Now let me be clear that the coaching staff and the players are not looking to lose games. This is a fan-centric approach and if you are going to miss the playoffs, you may as well be as bad as possible.

Just last night, as the Canadiens lost 6-3 to the Vegas Golden Knights, they went from sixth to fourth in draft lottery odds. Obviously, these things are quite volatile, as some teams have played more games than others, but over the last 10 games, only the Edmonton Oilers and Chicago Blackhawks have gotten the same amount or fewer points than the Canadiens among non-playoff teams.

The Oilers play Sunday. With a point they tie the Canadiens, and pass them with a win.

Of course, Canadiens fans are also paying attention to the Blackhawks, as Montreal has Chicago’s second-round pick. As it stands now, by points percentage, the Habs have three picks in the first 39 selections.

The exact odds for the 2018 draft lottery are not officially known, but according to Tankathon.com, after the Vegas game the Canadiens currently have a 28.6% chance of a top-three pick and a 9.5% chance at the top pick. By contrast, the Arizona Coyotes (first in the odds) are at 48.1% of a top-three selection and 18% of drafting first overall, while the Florida Panthers (10th) are at 14.4% and 4.5%, respectively.

Again, these are unofficial odds. Full odds will be announced at the end of the season. The lottery, of course, only affects the first round. The other rounds are in reverse order of the standings.

This year’s NHL Draft is interesting. The top prospect is Rasmus Dahlin, and he is expected to be the number-one choice, no matter who actually chooses there. Other top prospects are up in the air, but it is some order of Andrei Svechnikov, Filip Zadina, Adam Boqvist, and Brady Tkachuk in the top five.

After the top five or so, there is a drop off, so it is in a team’s best interest to be as high as possible, even if they don’t end up winning the lottery itself.

There is a lot of depth in the middle of the first round into the second round, and the Canadiens having three second-round picks is something to be excited about, and that is before they make any moves ahead of the Trade Deadline.