Canadiens Tank Tracker: Habs Slide To Bottom Five
The Montreal Canadiens have slowly but surely slid down the NHL standings of late due to a lengthy losing streak and some help from around the league.
The race for the Eastern Conference Wild Card spots isn’t the only tight race in the NHL at the moment, as the race to the bottom is almost as fierce of late.
The Canadiens have fallen prey to their very difficult schedule over the last two weeks, despite some inspiring play; giving their fans the best of both worlds.
Meanwhile, the Vancouver Canucks have vaulted themselves out of the bottom of the standings with four straight wins, mirroring the Canadiens of February, and creating three points of separation with Montreal with a game in hand.
More surprising however is the performance of the Arizona Coyotes, who, against all odds, have banked points in four of their last five games and three wins in their last four.
The Coyotes continued their late-season push last night, to the dismay of general manager Bill Armstrong, beating the Minnesota Wild in overtime by the score of 5-4.
The victory pushed the Coyotes ahead of the Canadiens by one point; meaning the Montreal Canadiens have effectively slid from 25th overall to 28th overall in a matter of a week.
The Canadiens now find themselves in the bottom five of the NHL standings with 16 games to play in the season, but a lot can still change.
Only five points separate the 24th-place St. Louis Blues from the 28th-place Canadiens, while the Anaheim Ducks, who sit in 29th place, are only four points behind the Canadiens.
Like last season, the tracking of the NHL standings will be intriguing up until the very end.
What About Florida?
The once-crowded Wild Card race in the Eastern Conference is slowly looking like a three-team race for the final three spots between the Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Islanders and Florida Panthers.
The Penguins have begun to create some degree of separation with a 7-2-1 record over their last ten games; now posting 78 points in 66 games.
The New York Islanders are hanging on the final Wild Card spot with 76 points in 68 games.
Meanwhile, the Panthers continue to stay in the fight, with 73 points collected over 67 games; within three points of the Islanders with a game in hand.
The Panthers’ next game will ironically be against the Montreal Canadiens; a matchup that will leave many fans conflicted; as a loss for Florida would be a big blow to the Panthers’ playoff hopes, but would likely see the Habs jump from 28th place to 26th place with the victory.
It will be an interesting race to the finish for the Panthers, as their failure to qualify for the playoffs would offer the Montreal Canadiens a second lottery pick in a very deep 2023 NHL Draft.
OK, this maximizes “the tank”…
Panthers don’t play again until MTL on Thurs. Habs have two games before then. If they lose both, which is very plausible, if not likely, then they would already be closing in on the 4th draft spot. Teams like Wash, Ott, Buff, and Cal all have a game or two in hand on Panthers this weeks. By the time we get to Thurs night’s game, Panthers will already have dropped a spot or two up the draft ranks. So then the habs can “afford” to beat FLA in that Thurs game, so FLA slides another spot or two by weekend.
I’m really torn. Do we win in order to gain a minute chance of increasing the odds the Florida pick becomes a lottery pick, or do we just go with the better odds by dropping ourselves lower in the standings. I’m leaning towards taking the loss ourselves and continuing to drop down to the top of the draft where the best players are. I want an ELITE player more than a couple of good ones. The difference between the players we’d get from 11-15 with the Florida pick won’t vary as much as the difference in quality between landing the #1-8 pick with our own draft choice. The worst case scenario is if we go to overtime or a shootout and BOTH teams gain points. 🤷🏻♂️
One factor that is being ignored is games remaining between bottom dwellers. Vancouver has 7 such games before the end of the season. So the chance of getting an early draft spot is just about nil.
The other bottom dwellers have 3 to 5 games and how they do could easily affect the draft order. The Canadiens have one such game,