Fans of the Montreal Canadiens can sleep easily.
Their favourite team has a four-point lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning for second place in the Atlantic Division and they’ve already punched their tickets for the playoffs.
In fact, Montreal is heading into playoffs under generally good conditions: their offence has been firing on all cylinders since Thomas Vanek joined the team and they enjoy the comfort of having Carey Price in net. If the offence ever falters, you know Price is capable of carrying the team all by himself.
That’s why the Canadiens’ last two games are such an aberration. Although Montreal pulled out convincing wins in both games – netting 12 goals in the process – they also surrendered 7 goals.
The goaltending duties for the back-to-back games were split between Peter Budaj and Price.
Budaj got the start on Friday against the lowly Ottawa Senators, surrendering three unanswered goals to start the game in an eventual 7-4 victory. I cannot say he looked sharp.
In turn, Price took over the net last night and delivered a temporary setback to the Detroit Red Wings’ playoff push. He surrendered three late goals, tying the game at 3-3, before Montreal rallied to win 5-3.
This wild pair of weekend games likely left Habs fans excited over the sudden explosion in offence, but somewhat alarmed about the equally sudden explosion in goals surrendered.
Ideally, the offence will stay hot while the defence will tighten up as the Canadiens head into the postseason.
On the season, Montreal has scored 212 goals while allowing 199 goals. This produces a goal differential of +13, which compares poorly against the goal differential of the division-leading Boston Bruins. They sit at an insane +84 – tops in the entire league.
There’s a good chance that Montreal will be the only Canadian team represented in the playoffs this season. As a Leafs fan, it’s hard to imagine myself cheering for them, but it would also be nice to see a Canadian team succeed.
I could support more of these high-offence games: they’d give me plenty of opportunity to cheer for and against the Habs!
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