The Playoff Race Is Already In Full Swing…

Most teams have played 8 games this year, and I already find myself staring at the standings and trying to figure out where teams will wind up, mainly, the Montreal Canadiens.

I’d just like to start off by asking some of the guys who’ve been writing here for a long time to start posting some more stuff. I find that there are very few articles about the Habs apart from the odd uncomfirmed rumor, usually generated by hockeybuzz, and I’d like to read something other than my own articles…
What am I thinking?
So it begins, you think. Already this MtlHabs09 idiot is writing about the playoffs. You can’t believe you’re already reading about the playoffs, they seem so distant, so far away… Why does this guy see it fit to waste his time, 8 games into the season, to start writing about the playoffs?
The answer
Ya, so what? It’s 8 games in, but already the battle for the eighth playoff spot is getting insane. Already we have 8 teams within two points of each other. If Florida were to win one game they’d hop from 11th to 4th! I mean, how does that not start getting you pumped about the playoffs?
Here we go, no more dilly-dallying, top 3
Take a quick peek at the standings if you will. Notice that today (October25) Ottawa is already running away with the Eastern Conference with 16 points in 9 games. This is really just as most people expected, and the big question mark in Ottawa is whether the Sens will finally be able to win the Cup in what many people are saying could be their last season of dominance. In second is the surprising Carolina Hurricanes who have 15 points in 10 games. Right away taht 10 GP stands out, but the Canes division is pitifully weak apart from maybe Tampa. In third we have Philadelphia with 12 points after 8 games. If they hope to stay so high in the standings, they only have to play the way they have for the first 8 games, which has been almost flawlessly.
Now the really interesting part
Pittsburgh, Boston, New York (I) and Montreal are all tied with 10 points and 8 games played. We then have the Leafs with 9 points and 10 games played sitting in eighth. Tampa Bay, Washington and Florida all have 8 points, having played 7, 8, and 9 games respectively.
Pittsburgh really hasn’t gotten off to the start I was expecting. They will need to start winning games by more than one goal if they hope to make a realistic push for the top 3.
Boston is really the shocker up there, but as we saw on Monday night they are VERY vulnerable in nets. They have to hope Fernandez can start playing better or else they’ll find themselves tied for 4th last.
New York Islanders
The Islanders have been pretty quiet, in fact I really can’t remembe if they were even on Sportscenter they have been so quiet. Nobody has expected much but nobody expected a last place finish either, I guess slight over performers so far.
The only team I really care about, they have been in every game they’ve played this year. Not counting an empty net goal by the Hurricanes Montreal is yet to lost by two goals this season. Just like the Penguins Montreal is playing with fire with all of these one goal games, and if Montreal follows recent tradition it will come back to bite them.
It seems to be Montreal’s trademark to start off a season winning every one goal game they’re in (last season for example) and then falling off and going on a 15 game slump in February/March, just at the time when you can’t make up for all of the lost points.
But for once Montreal’s players don’t seem to be such a weak bunch, they look like they could go for 82 games instead of the usual 41… Montreal will need three things;
The first is to hope that a key player does not go down in an injury, because they don’t have much depth on their roster.
Secondly Montreal HAS to start converting on scoring chances. You know that I’ve said this in previous articles and it remains true, in order for the Habs to be succesful, the first line HAS to convert this season. With all of the chances Chris Higgins gets, he could easily be a 40 goal scorer, but he hasn’t had that touch, at least not yet. Now the only solution to that problem iis quite simple… practice, practice, and some more practice, and that will be Carbo’s most important task of the season.
He [Carbonneau] has to drill these guys, make them focus on shooting accurately. Now I know that some players just don’t have the ability to can it in mportant situations, but I truly beleve Higgins can do it, and I’d really hate to see him doing it with a team other than Montreal. And unless Carbo can get Higgins scoring by years end or unfortunately even the trade deadline, it could lead to Montreal making a huge mistake by trading Higgins away.
Thirdly Montreal will need the likes of Alex Kovalev, Tomas Plekanec, Saku Koivu, Roman Hamrlik and Mark Streit to keep playing at the high level they’ve played at so far. Hamrlik and Streit have been amazing so far, and the rest of Montreal’s defense has also been solid. Kovalev has been everyone’s favourite surprise. We all know this is how we need him to play if we want to do anything this year. Pleks and Koivu have also been quite good, and hopefully they’ll keep up the good work too. Bottom line is, Montreal just needs to keep playing the way they ahve been and they should be alright.
4 teams are ahead of the Leafs, and all of them have two games in hand. The Leafs could be in a world of hurt after this weekend, as a loss in Pittsburgh is expected by many, and if the Leafs somehow fall to the offensively retarded Rangers panic will likely insue. As a Habs fan I am hoping for this to happen, but I’d rather focus on my own team’s successes than another team’s failures.
Only one point behind the Leafs and with 3 games in hand, the Lightning are showing brief signs of the team that won the Cup, yet in order for them to make a push, they’ll have to get some secondary scoring and decent enough goaltending.
This team has some really good prospects and a decent future, but I picture them to be a consistent 4th or 5th place team for years. Even with ovechkin I think they’ll need another star if they ever want to be a truly great team.
I was at the game Vokoun stole, and personally I believe that if Florida could start lightning the lamp a little more they could develop into a dangerous team.
1st – Ottawa Senators – These guys will go deep into the playoffs.
2nd – Pittsburgh Penguins – They’ll pick up their play, and I believe will contend with the Sens in a close race for first.
3rd – Carolina Hurricanes – Only because of the fact that they’ll be a divison leader will they be this high. Pointwise they’d probably be equivalent to a 7th place team.
4th – Philadelphia Flyers – The true third place team, I thinkthey’ll hold things together and likely be the most entertaining team to watch in the post-season.
5th – Tampa Bay Lightning – Yes, 5th. They have 3 of the best players in the NHL, and a little secondary scoring will go a loooooong way, 5th place.
6th – New York Rangers – They’ll pull things together after about 25 games. The early season struggles will cost them home ice, but they’ll be one of the hottest teams going into the playoffs.
7th – Buffalo Sabres – They’ll star playing better, no doubt in my mind. But they aren’t the saem as last year, and as a result will finish much lower, but still in the playoffs.
8th – Montreal Canadiens – Unbelievably this is way better than most peple had the Habs ranked before then season, myself included. But as usual Montreal will go through a slump, but it will not be as major, giving them a much better chance thanks to early seson points and a strong surge in late Mar
ch and April. Look for them to be riding some kind of emotion into the playoffs and push the Sens to 6 or even 7 games.
Outside looking in
9th – Toronto Maple Leafs – Montreal and Toronto have traded knocking each other out of the playoffs the past two seasons, and I don’t see that tradition ending. The April 5th matchup looks mighty interesting, but I see Montreal coming out on top this time, in a heated game that will only fuel the world’s greatest rivalry.
10th – Boston Bruins – Noticing a pattern? The Northeast divison has a severe case of parody with the exception of Ottawa. The end of the season will be fascinating to watch, and these 4 will play some games to be remembered for years.
11th – New York Islanders – I just don’t like how this team is buil, they don’t have any standout players, and won’t be able to compete with the ‘Big Boys’.
12th – Florida Panthers – Below most people’s expectations, but his team has a year or two to go in my mind before they can make a realistic push for the post season.
All the rest…
New Jersey, Washington and Atlanta will put up miserable years.

23 Responses to The Playoff Race Is Already In Full Swing…

  1. habsrock99 says:

    Philly has yet to be truely tested by another Play-off favourite that isn't struggling, so don't jump on their band wagon just yet. As for Montreal in 8th, I see them more like 6th or 7th with Tampa missing the play-offs due to inconsistent goaltending and lack of defence. The only way Toronto finishes 9th or higher is if their defence steps up HUGE all season.

  2. leafsfan86 says:

    a loss in pittsburgh is expected but expect the unexpected as the leafs beat pittsburgh 5-2…oh and by the way the habs will be lower in the standings by seasons end….just cant seem to beat the leafs

  3. habsrock99 says:

    1 loss means Dick all. Their's still 7 more matchups between the 2 as well as 70 + games

  4. leafsfan86 says:

    and i was only commenting on the game TONIGHT…pay attention boy

  5. riseagainst says:

    i don't think you can guage how good a team is this early, you might as well wrote this before the season started.  I don't think a single team as played 8 different teams yet.  take a team like philly,  they have great stats at 7 wins, i think but look at the teams they beat, underachieving calgary and vancouver, weak teams in NYI, Atlanta and New Jersey, and thus the only team they've beaten that might be considered a challenge would be the Canes and that teams questionable.  so are the flyers good maybe, the fact that they beat some weak teams doesn't prove that.  I mean I don't care that you wrote this I have enough time to read stuff so I don't mind I just wonder why this gets posted yet the article I wrote about Burke joining the Leafs was passed on.

  6. habsrock99 says:

    And you pay attention "boy", you said "the habs can't seem to beat them Leafs" and i commented by saying "1 game means dick all, theirs still 7 more matchups and 70+ games that have yet to be determined"

  7. Asquaredx2 says:

    How is this the last season of dominance for the Sens? They still have Emery, Alfredsson, Phillips, Heatley, Volchenkov, Fisher, and many others locked up to long deals, enough cap space to resign Spezza, and a slew of good prospects in the system like Nick Foligno, Brian Lee, Kyrill Lyamin, Brian Elliott, Ilya Mirnov and Igor Mirnov.

    This team is going to be good for a long time.

  8. habs_punk says:

    So… you feel like an article about Burke joining the Leafs, with, as far as I can tell by perusing the general hockey rumors sites, no source whatsoever is worth more than this article? I'm not going to say that this article was a top of the line article, but if your made up rumor about the Leafs made it on here instead of an article about pretty much any other team in the league, the issues of this site that people have with only Leaf articles getting posted would be compounded severely. Besides who's to say your article won't get posted in the next day or so?

  9. leafsfan86 says:

    as long as the hab killer tomas kaberle is on the ice i dont think you guys have a chance…he put you away for good last season in game 82 with his amazing shot from the point and he did the same last game in overtime…what does that tell you

  10. aprzybylo says:

    >>>It's 8 games in, but already the battle for the eighth playoff spot is getting insane. Already we have 8 teams within two points of each other.

    Really?????!!!!!!!  Imagine that few weeks ago, at the time when each team played one game we had already 15 teams within 2 points.  That wa a battle!!!!!!  One win and you were going from last to first!!!!!!!

  11. aprzybylo says:

    >>>It's 8 games in, but already the battle for the eighth playoff spot is getting insane. Already we have 8 teams within two points of each other.

    Really?????!!!!!!!  Imagine that few weeks ago, at the time when each team played one game we had already 15 teams within 2 points.  That wa a battle!!!!!!  One win and you were going from last to first!!!!!!!

  12. kingkobi says:

    I tells me that the only joy and satisfaction that the leafs, leafs management and die hard leaf fans have had is when they beat the habs for 9th place last year!! way to go leaf nation..

  13. leafsfan86 says:

    and the habs fought so hard for the 10th position…atleast we had a CHANCE to make it to the playoffs…you make fun of the leafs but they eliminated the habs last season

  14. kingkobi says:

    you have no chance, all the leafs have to show for since the lock-out is a win over the habs…. you tell me which team is in better position now and for the future. No defense No goalie No playoffs, dick.

  15. kingkobi says:

    I hear Tuuka Rask is tearing it up in europe right now

  16. Habfanforever says:

    Too earl to tell how the standings will be and how team will fare in the long run. lso, Leafs andHabs are BOTH mediocre teams that will fight for a playoff spot, Leafs have no defence, Montreal has no offense. Unless things change for either team, the other teams that seem to do badly now will catch up as the season goes on.

  17. habsrock99 says:

    And let me think, 2 years ago, Montreal eliminated your precious Leafs AND made the play-offs. You're telling me that you're happy you beat us by ONE point and MISSED the play-offs?

  18. riseagainst says:

    my post wasn’t suppose to put down this article, I wish I wrote it better, I was trying to be sarcastic or something I don’t know. And while it isn’t really a source Howard Berger is the person breaking the story claiming to have an inside source, so take that for what its worth. This is suppose to be a rumor site so I’d expect to see a lot of rumors and I put it on the leafs specific part of this site. Basically I’m just venting a bit because I don’t understand some of the stuff that gets posted here.

  19. simplyhabby says:

    What I been likeing about the habs is the scoring is being spread out proportiantely.  Our best players are leading and the 3rd and 4th liners are producing.  We are getting solid goaltending but yes, I fear depth coudl be an issue on he first line.

    All I can say, Gainey, get us a powerforward.  We are really missing that dimension specially on the first line. 

    Don't worry about Higgines.  Like you said, it takes practice to get the timing in sync and its early in the season.  I take it as a postive that we are able to get the puck down low with a man in front.

    Our back end has been great.  I can now safely say that Komi is my fave player on the team slightly edigning out Koivu.  Yes Koivu is the better player and is an inpsiration ot the team but the only thing I see wrong with Komi right now is he needs to reduce the penaltiess,  Other then that, he is handling the top players on opposing teams well, hitting like a frieght train, ab=nd being responsible in his own end.  He is now begining to pinch into the offensive zone as wise times whihc should improve scoring for one of the best defensive defenseman in the league. 

    Team USA, Higgins and Komisarek will be part of your second coming.

  20. habs_punk says:

    I don't think anybody really understands some of the stuff that gets posted here. At least it's still better than hockeybuzz.

  21. riseagainst says:

    lol, i like hockeybuzz. say wat u will about eklund at least his site is interesting and he admits that hes only right like 4% of the team (thats probably even questionable). the site does have some talent though, Clement and Berger that is

  22. habsgod says:

    well done mtl habs 09!i agree with some of your predictions and some i don't !!but we all can't agree on everything!!if we did where's the fun in that?i think personally our habs will finish 6th in the east!!i just see them as being an improved team with morer youth and better leadership andoverall better veteran freeagent talent(especially hamrlik)and thechemistry seems alot better!!andif huet can stay healthy and give us more than 40 games then i see us about 6th!!our scoring is the only thing thatmight hurt us in the end ….but i think we'll be just fine!!!

  23. cartino says:

    Agreed, Spezza will sign a long-term deal before the start of the next season similar to what Heatley got and this team is still intact for years!!
    I think all they'll miss next year is 1-2 players who they won't be able to re-sign one of the forwards of Vermette, Kelly, or Eaves may probably go for cap space, they're good players but missing one will not make/break the team much. Also their is a chance Redden may not be back.. he's a decent defencemen but is way overrated in my opinion outside of Ottawa, and he's not worth 6.5 million/season, unless he re-signs for significant'y less ie under 5 million i wouldn't bring him back. and the cap money there you can use to grab a pretty steady reliable D-man for 3-5 million.

    Plus they have 2 good rookies to step up and take more prominent roles on the team, Nick Foligno who should gel into a very solid 2 way player and Brian Lee our 8th overall pick in the Crosby draft should become a regular on the blueline. The Sens don't have a stacked minor system like they used to but every year they use there draft picks wisely and since they became a playoff team in the late 90's, virtually every draft they still manage to grab a good 1st round pick player who can contribute.

    This core will be together for years to come and be dominant in the Eastern conference…. now all the sens gotta do is actually win a cup as they've gotten so close before.

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