Montreal Canadiens' Destiny Is in Their Hands

Dominic PampalonAnalyst IMarch 26, 2009

When the Montreal Canadiens entered the Bell Centre on Tuesday to match-up with the Atlanta Thrashers, they knew a loss would bring them closer to an exclusion for the spring waltz.

But what they did is take their lunch box and go to work.

GM/Coach Bob Gainey formed his first attacking line with Koivu between Kovalev and Tanguay.

This line produced 11 points with Tanguay notching two goals and three assist, his fifth five-points game, while Kovalev put the puck in the net twice and got an assist and Koivu amassed one goal and two assists. At the blue line Markov harvested three assists.

What is most encouraging for the team is that Gainey's troops were able to find the back of the net three times on the power play. We haven't seen this in a while.

Now is the time to build on this victory. With nine games to play, the Habs know they are walking on eggshells. The last stretch of the season is to Montreal's advantage as they will match-up with Tampa Bay tonight and Buffalo Saturday at the Bell Centre.

These two games are crucial and they can't be too relaxed. Tampa Bay is out of the playoffs but Lecavalier and St-Louis always had success against Montreal. Buffalo has always been an enigma and if Ryan Miller isn't playing, they (Montreal) have a good chance to win.

In the upcoming weeks, Montreal (eighth in the Eastern Conference) will play eight out of nine games against teams in its conference. They will face Tampa Bay (14th), Buffalo (10th), Chicago, New York Islanders (15th), Toronto (11th), Ottawa (12th), New York Rangers (seventh), Boston (first), and Pittsburgh (six).

Five of the last nine games will be on their home ice and they will play against five teams under them.

Now is the time focus, play their game and come out of this final stretch with a playoff berth secured.