It has always been difficult to separate church from state in Quebec. It's generally considered impossible to separate the Montreal Canadiens from religion in the province.
According to The Toronto Globe and Mail, the archdiocese of Montreal has concocted an ad campaign in Montreal newspapers to get people in the hockey-mad city to pray for a Habs' playoff berth. There attempt to invoke divine intervention does seem like the only way this Montreal Canadien team could make the playoffs.
Boasting the worst power play in the league (12.8 percent success rate), a feeble offense and a young error ridden defense, a miracle does seem like the only possibility for a Montreal playoff appearance.
Coincidentally or not, les habitants are currently on a three-game winning streak that featured a 3-2 shootout victory over the considerably better Pittsburgh Penguins.
Last night, the Canadiens took on the equally challenged New York Islanders. The death watch on Scott Gomez ended as he finally scored his first goal for the Montreal Canadiens in over a year. Max Pacioretty scored his first NHL hat trick in the same game. These occurrences are not necessarily divinely driven, but there certainly is an aspect of serendipity in their coincidence.
It is nice of the Catholic church to weigh in on behalf of the Montreal Canadiens. Unfortunately, making the playoffs is probably not in the team's long-term interest this season. The worst possible scenario would see Montreal go on a winning streak that had them just barely miss the playoffs. This would see them with a worse draft pick, while not even enjoying their one in a thousand chance of success in the playoffs.
Before the winning streak started, Montreal was tied with the Carolina Hurricanes for last place in the Eastern Conference. Only Columbus was sure to finish the season behind the Montreal Canadiens. A 29th place finish would see the Canadiens with an 18.8 percent chance of getting the first overall pick. The worst they could pick would be third overall.
After the three-game winning streak, Montreal sits 11th in the east and 23rd overall. They no longer have a chance to get the first overall pick and could only pick somewhere between fourth and ninth overall in the NHL entry draft.
This is still a good draft position, but they no longer have a shot at the first overall pick and have a chance to see eight other teams pick ahead of them. This is not in the team's best interest.
No one is calling on the Montreal Canadiens to go on a long losing streak, because let's face it, winning is better than losing. Still, a Montreal team that managed to finish this season the same way they have played it so far would have a better chance to improve than a squad that decides to put it together again way too late.
The Catholic church might want to ease up on the praying this year and save it for next season.