Canadiens Clinch Postseason Spot; Latest 2021 NHL Playoff Picture

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 11, 2021

Montreal Canadians center Tyler Toffoli(73) celebrates with teammates after scoring the tying goal during an NHL hockey game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021, in Toronto, Canada. (AP Photo/Peter Power)
Peter Power/Associated Press

The Montreal Canadiens are back in the playoffs for the second straight season. The 24-time Stanley Cup champions sealed a berth in the postseason with a 4-3 overtime defeat to the Edmonton Oilers on Monday.

Forcing the extra period was enough to get the job done regardless of the game's outcome.


🔵🔴 CLINCHED 🔵🔴 Welcome to the #StanleyCup Playoffs, @CanadiensMTL! https://t.co/AuFMCFlr1g

With the Canadiens in, three teams have now qualified from the North Division, with four teams from each division moving on to the next stage.


Qualified Playoff Teams





Montreal will be looking to advance past the first round, something it hasn't achieved since 2015. It upset the Pittsburgh Penguins in the qualifying round of the amended 2020 postseason before falling to the top-seeded Philadelphia Flyers in six games.

Signing Tyler Toffoli to a four-year, $17 million deal looks like a masterstroke as he has registered 28 goals in his first season with the team, tied for sixth-most in the NHL. The offensive support for him has been somewhat lacking, though, with Jeff Petry the only other Canadiens player to have at least 40 points so far. Montreal's 2.91 goals per game rank 14th.

Carey Price has endured a tough go of it as well. His performance (.901 save percentage and 2.64 goals-against average) is solid but below what you'd expect of the NHL's highest-paid goaltender at $10.5 million annually. Price has also been sidelined with a concussion.

In general, the fanbase would probably be content with a trip to the second round. The team's winning percentage has increased slightly from .500 to .538 entering Monday, and there are encouraging signs for the future.

Almost all of the Canadiens' key players are returning next season. Nick Suzuki has provided solid returns (13 goals, 26 assists) in his second year, and 2019 first-round pick Cole Caufield made his NHL debut April 26 against the Calgary Flames.

Caulfield, 20, scored his first goal on May 1, delivering the decisive blow in overtime against the Ottawa Senators.

While the arrow is pointing upward for Montreal, it's probably too early to expect the team to make a lot of noise in the playoffs.