Like many others, I didn’t buy the Habs success. Probably because I picked them to finish dead last, and I didn’t want to admit that I could be so wrong about something. Up until Saturday, I always stated that Boston would eventually be the winner of the Northeast Division because they had so many games in hand.
Well Saturday was a telling day in terms of that situation. The Bruins’ loss combined with the Canadiens win put the Habs up 3 points with Boston having only 1 game in hand. That means that even if Boston beats Buffalo on Sunday evening, they will be a point behind Montreal with an even number of games played. That is a landmark moment because, as I said above, the Bruins have had those games in hand in their back pockets all season long. Now it is gone.
And what if Buffalo happens to win the game today? Does that make Boston GM Peter Chiarelli just a little bit more nervous, maybe more likely to go out and get a Martin St. Louis or Ryane Clowe-type play and maybe overpaying to bring one of them in. Could missing out on Brenden Morrow and Jarome Iginla within a week combined with the realization that they might not be the bullies of the Northeast after all could cause a knee-jerk reaction?
While both teams are looking up at the Pittsburgh Penguins and are not in danger of being caught by the Winnipeg Jets, the Canadiens and Bruins are bitter rivals who are battling for the 2 and 4 seeds. While the 2nd seed seems to be in line for a meeting with the Devils, the 4th seed will get a tough divisional matchup with either the Senators or Maple Leafs. While Boston has seemingly had its way with both Toronto and Ottawa over the last few years, neither one will be an easy out. Montreal has had its problems with both divisional rivals as well, so both will want to avoid the first round matchup, as great as it would be for fans of playoff rivalries.
As shocked as I am, and as tired as I have become of waiting for the Habs to collapse, it is time for me to admit almost 3/4 of the way through the season that the Montreal Canadiens are indeed for real and I am ready to admit that they could in fact hold off the Bruins for the #2 seed and that position could give them a solid playoff run as well.
Tough for me to admit, but I am sure I am not the only one who was wrong on that one. I didn’t see it coming at all.