Atlantic Division Race & Playoff Update
There are just under 10 games to be played in the regular season, so the race is nearing the final stretch.
It’s looking pretty grim for the Habs playoffs hopes but it isn’t over yet. They are just 18 points behind New Jersey so if they win out in all nine games there is a chance at a wildcard berth.
Who’s in and who’s out?
The Atlantic Division is tough. So far, the three best teams in the Eastern Conference belong to this division. The Tampa Bay Lighting are mathematically locked in. The Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs are in second and third place respectively and are looking almost uncatchable by the rest of the division. Although technically, Florida could still catch the Maple Leafs with the remaining games … but they don’t need to. They are only a few points back from the Devils.
The Sens are 19 points back from the New Jersey Devils with a longshot of a chance. But the biggest loser so far is Buffalo. The Sabres are out of the hunt as the first team to be mathematically eliminated. Over in the Western Conference, the Vancouver Canucks and Arizona Coyotes are also non-factors.
Matchup outlook in the East
If things continue down the same path that they are on, the Tampa Bay Lighting would face the NJ Devils in the first round. The Maple Leafs will face the Bruins —It should be noted that I also think that putting weaker teams deeper into the playoffs by forcibly eliminating four of the best teams in the first round is a huge flaw in the newer playoff system. The Blue Jackets are on track to face the Capitols and the Flyers could be facing the Penguins.
You’ve gotta wonder how many times the habs played for the loser point. At 12 overtime losses, the Habs are tied for the most OTL in the league. And who is the only other team with 12? None other than the lowly Sabres.
I’m going to side-step here for just a second and mention that I am still opposed to the OTL point. The Canadiens have talent. Sure there have been some setbacks but if the option to play it safe didn’t exist would we be closer in the points race? It’s a moot point but food for thought nonetheless.
Checking the odds on the winners
I always like to have a look at the implied probability listed by Las Vegas. The Canadiens opened the season in Vegas and at online outlets like Bodog as one of the favorites to win the Atlantic Division. The early odds were the Lighting at +250 (2.5 to 1) and the Habs at +300 (3 to 1). So we know the potential was there and there should just be some fine-tuning to make a full-on playoff run next season.
When we check the current odds at Bodog, The Lighting are odds-on favorites to win the Eastern Conference at +220, followed by the Bruins at +350, the Pens at +500, and the Maple Leafs at +650.
To hoist the Cup, the Nashville Predators lead the action at +375, followed by the Lighting at +400, the Vegas Golden Knights at +600—what surprise the Knights are …, the Penguins at +850, and the Bruins are in the hunt and valuable on the oddsboards at +900.
The most exciting time of the year is here. So get your Habs jerseys on cheer for the last few games of the season!