How the Habs Will Make the Playoffs
By The Numbers:
Through 50 games, the Montreal Canadiens have earned 59 points, winning 27 games while dropping 18 in regulation and 4 in extra time or the shooutout.
Pretty remarkable numbers given that at this point last year the Canadiens were well behind the 8 ball.
But how have they done it?
Through 50 games;
- The Canadiens have won 16 games at home, earning an average of 1.38 pts per game at the Bell Centre through 26 home contests.
- The Habs have won 10 games on the road this season, earning an average of .96 pts per game away from the cozy confines of home.
- The 27 total wins and 4 OT/SO points equate to an average of 1.18 pts earned per game for the Habs.
Translating these numbers, and the fact that the magic number to make the playoffs is around 92/93 points this season, the Canadiens aren’t in the worst of positions as with 32 games remaining, the Habs would only have to go 1 game over .500 to hit the 93 point mark. Yet, given the rate at which the Habs have been earning points this season, they are currently on pace to earn approximately 97/98 points – a number that would put them comfortably within the playoff picture.
But it’s not as easy as it seems as, out of the 32 games that remain, 17 of them are on the road – a place the Canadiens haven’t exactly thrived this season.
Counter to the 17 road contests that remain, the Canadiens will have the opportunity to land a playoff spot by continuing their strong play at home as they will have 15 home contests to help push them towards the post-season.
Given their current rate, 1.38 pts per game at home and .96 pts per game on the road, the Habs are on pace to earn another 20 points at home and another 16/17 points on the road. Once again, those numbers would definitely put the Canadiens into the playoffs, yet – as usual – it isn’t that simple.
Making things even harder on Montreal, the Canadiens play 5 sets of back-to-back games. That’s 10 of their remaining 32 games coming on consecutive nights, not always an easy task.
Add on to that the fact that 21 of the 32 games are against sure-fire playoff teams or contenders, and the Habs will be in need of earning as many points as possible in February.
I say February because Montreal will play 13 games in the month, but 8 of them will come at home. What makes that number even more important is that it means more than 50% of Montreal’s remaining home games will be played this month. Given that home ice is definitely a strength for the Habs, that means that February is going to be an even more important month.
As things stand, the Habs are in a safe place. But that will only last as long as the team can play consistent hockey. With the Hurricanes quietly climbing into the picture, the moment the Habs falter could be the moment they lose out on a great season.
It’s touch and go as February kicks of with 3 consecutive sets of back-to-backs versus 3 playoff teams and 3 non-playoff teams. For the Habs to set themselves up nicely for the remainder of the season, they will have to do no worse than 9 points – but that is a very large task as they will not be the only team seeking to hit their extra gear as the playoff drive kicks off.