If you’ve followed the Montreal Canadiens pretty much ever since the team’s last Stanley Cup, you’ll be immediately familiar with one key tradition that comes around like clockwork just about every spring, and no, it’s not the playoffs. It’s waiting until the last weekend of the season to see if the team will even make them.
Clearly, this season is different, and instead of waiting to see if the Habs will make the playoffs, fans will be waiting to see if Montreal has secured home ice for the first round if not beyond.
Montreal has had good seasons before (obviously, with 24 championship banners hanging in the rafters). The 2007-08 edition, a group that ended up placing first in the Eastern Conference and had seven different 50-point scorers, comes to mind, for example.
However, even if the Habs don’t win the conference this season, it’s clear there’s something much more special about this year.
For starters, whereas before Montreal had the Kostitsyn brothers, now the Habs have the two Gallys (Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher). And, while in 2008, the Habs had Mark Streit leading all blueliners in scoring, in 2013 there’s P.K. Subban, whom the Habs can actually play on defense. And, finally, while five years ago the Habs had Carey Price in net, right now they’ve got Carey Price not from five years ago. There’s just something special in the air is all I’m saying.
Once again, it’s possible that it comes down to them and the Pittsburgh Penguins for first, but this year one just gets the sense that, even if they don’t get first, the Habs are good enough to eke this thing out without the Pens throwing the last game of the season to face the Ottawa Senators in the first round.
Should that unfortunately not happen, here are five ways the Habs still at least earn home ice for the playoffs: