Habs Can Be Contenders with Home Ice Advantage
There is no reading between the lines on this one, were the Montreal Canadiens to land home-ice advantage heading into the playoffs this season, their odds of succeeding would be vastly improved.
Currently, the Canadiens boast the 3rd best home record in the NHL having accumulated 46 points in 34 games at the Bell Center, a record of 20-8-6.
Only the Vancouver Canucks and Tampa Bay Lightning have nabbed more points at home this season while Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Washington close out the top 6 teams at home. So, as you can see, the Habs are among the best teams in the NHL when it comes to home ice, therefore it’s only logical to assume that their odds of winning the Stanley Cup will increase drastically if they can land home ice.
That said, there’s a rather large hill to climb in order for them to accomplish that task as they only have 7 of their remaining 18 games left at home.
What makes it even more difficult is the fact that the Habs would be in need of vaulting the Capitals(3 points ahead of MTL) or the Penguins(6 points ahead of MTL) – or by catching the Boston Bruins.
Considering the task ahead of them, it’s going to be rather difficult to assume the Habs will be able to land home ice advantage, but if there was anything that these Habs should be playing for, it would have to be the right to start the playoffs on Bell Center ice.
The flip side of that coin is that the Habs have been rather mundane on the road this year and if they are to begin the playoffs with the disadvantage of being the road team, well, it’s quite plain to see their odds of winning would be drastically reduced.
Heading into their tilt with the Florida Panthers tonight in Sunrise, the Canadiens have managed to skate to a 14-15-1 record on the road this season. A road record that has Montreal ranked as 21st in the NHL away from home – or more succinctly – 9th worst in the NHL.
That should be enough incentive on its own for the Canadiens to go on a tear as the regular season grinds to a finish.
Again, it’s a rather monumental task trying to land home ice for the playoffs, especially because the Canadiens would have to vault over both the Pens and Caps, or catch the Bruins for top spot in the Northeast, so it might be best to couple both of their goals into one for the final 18 games.
Goal #1 would obviously be to play themselves into home ice advantage while Goal #2 would have to be focusing on improving their play away from the Bell Center.
If they can do both over the final month of play, there’s not only a great chance that they will be ready to face the challenge of an opponent in their own home rink but also the possibility of avoiding that entirely by slipping into the top 4 spots in the Eastern Conference.
Home ice advantage may come off as a lofty goal for these Montreal Canadiens but the truth is that they will be a much better contender this spring if they can land it. And, while they’re trying to improve their odds why not work on bettering their level of competition on the road.
It’s time for teams to simplify the type of hockey they play and for them to fine-tune their systems play and in the case of the Montreal Canadiens it may be as simple playing a more inspired brand of road hockey.