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Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty celebrates a goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
There’s just something about playing in the NHL’s East. Just ask the Detroit Red Wings, whom one would have thought would be running away with the conference after switching sides over the summer. Instead they’ve dropped down a peg (or two or three) to everyone else’s level of competition.
Not only are the Wings not the best team in the conference, they’re not even the best team in the Atlantic Division. Not only are they not the best team in the Atlantic, they’re in danger of missing the playoffs altogether.
Meanwhile, the Habs are 13-9-2 right now. While that isn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination, it admittedly isn’t awe-inspiring (and far from the 15-5-4 record they had at this point last season). They still currently hold a playoff spot, albeit the last one, one point behind Detroit, but with one game in hand.
Nevertheless, they are just six points back of the first-place Boston Bruins. It’s not a bad position to be in, and by “position” I of course mean geographically speaking, as, were the Habs playing in the West, they wouldn’t even be in the playoffs if they started today. Instead they’d be in ninth, four points out of eighth!
Not only that, but the only reason the Habs are as low in the Eastern Conference standings right now is because of the new seeding system that has each division’s top three teams form the top six. The fifth-best team in the Atlantic, the Habs actually have the sixth-best record.
So, maybe if they’re being picky, the Habs would ask Santa to magically switch over to the Metropolitan Division for Christmas. On the other hand, though, in the Atlantic they do have the benefit of facing two of the league’s three worst teams fairly regularly.