Bruin Playoff Probabilities: Rangers Likely & Canes not Dead, in Light of Habs Performance
Analysis by BruinsUnite
It’s far from a given that the Bruins will meet the Canadiens in Round 1. The best thing Montreal had going for it before the first week of March was Carey Price. Since his encounter with Boston, the 2.75 million dollar goalie has had to retreat to the bench twice in his last 3 games. He’s won 3 of his last 10 games and has let in 27 goals in that time, earning a 10-game save percentage of .887.
On the powerplay, Montreal was 0 for 14 before their last game against Carolina, in which they suffered a 6-2 defeat. In their most recent win against Atlanta, they ended a 3-game scoring drought that began with their 2-0 loss against Buffalo and escalated in a 7-0 loss in Boston. Their latest win featured an empty net goal, a “Bob Gainey goal” and a goal resulting from a silly error on the part of Ondrej Pavelec, Atlanta’s goaltender, who decided to leave his crease at a crucial time of attack.
Each of these weaknesses on its own would not be disastrous for the Canadiens, but taken together, it seems the team has very little going for it right now. They have 4 games left to play, with only 1 of those being home games, while Buffalo and the Rangers each have 5 remaining games. Both Buffalo and the Rangers are 2 points behind Montreal in the standings. Carolina, in 9th place, is 5 points behind with 5 games left to play.
Are either the Sabres or Rangers likely to overtake Montreal? For one thing, Montreal’s road games have been horrible. Again, only 1 of Montreal’s remaining 4 games is on home ice and they will be playing the Devils, Blackhawks, Senators and Maple Leafs. In that order.
New Jersey beat Montreal 4-1 in their last game and Chicago will be a challenge, to say the least. They’ll probably beat Ottawa again, but Toronto can go either way. Toronto has won 4 of its last 5 games and only lost by 2 against Detroit earlier this week. So if Montreal wins 2 of its last 4 games, the team accumulates a total of 93 points.It won’t be difficult for the Rangers to catch up. But–
But things are not so simple. The Rangers have as many wins as Montreal does, but 11 of those wins are shootout or overtime wins, and the overall standings take this into account as a tie-breaker. Montreal has only 8 non-regulation time wins. So if Montreal loses 2 of its remaining 4 games, the Sabres or the Rangers will have to accumulate 7 points of a possible remaining 10 to jump into 6th place. That’s 3 regulation time wins and one OT/shootout win. If Montreal loses 3 of their remaining 4 games, however, or wins one in OT/shootout and wins 2 in regulation time, then the Rangers only have to win 3 of their next 5 in regulation time to jump into 6th place. It can happen.
In their remaining games, the Rangers will be playing the Islanders, Flyers, Bruins, Thrashers and Devils. Note that the Islanders, who are in bad shape right now, lost 6-3 to the Rangers in Mid March. They have only 2 wins in their last 8 games. The Thrashers have been inconsistent, losing one out of 2 in their last 10 games, with a recent 8-2 loss to Buffalo and 2 shootout wins, one of which was against Ottawa.The Devils are doing almost as badly as the Islanders, with 2 regulation time wins in their last 7 games, with only a total of 8 goals.
So it seems the Rangers have a reasonably good chance of winning at least 3 games. They have not done well against Boston or the Flyers this season, but they will also have to win one of those 2 games in OT/shootout in order to accumulate the 7 points they need to jump into 6th place. This can certainly happen despite their lower number of regulation time wins, given Montreal’s recent performance, which is looking less like a slump with each game and more like a funeral.
Buffalo beat the Rangers last night and will be playing in their remaining 5 games the Capitals, Hurricanes, Lightning, Flyers and Blue Jackets. The team is looking good these days, with only one loss (by one goal) in the last 5 games, 3 of which have been shutouts.
And finally, the ineffable Hurricanes. In order for the Canes to knock Montreal out of the lineup, they will have to win 3 more games than Montreal. Impossible? Not at all. They have 5 games remaining and Montreal may very well lose 3 of 4. The Canes will play the Islanders, Buffalo, Detroit, Atlanta and Tampa Bay. They’ve won 6 of their last 8 games and have scored a total of 23 goals in that time.
Of course, if Montreal loses 3 of their remaining 4 games, then it looks like the Bruins will probably be coupled off with the Rangers, or, less likely, with Buffalo (based on the reasonable assumptions made above).
In the end, many Bruins fans are currently hoping for the best for Montreal in what remains of the regular season because a classic Bruins/Habs matchup is looking very favorable for the Beasts of the East. Ironically, Habs fans are also hoping for the classic match-up, because while their long-term memories are in tact, recollection of the last playoff encounter with the Big Bad Bruins is nowhere to be found.