January 16, 2012 by staff
So why is there the feeling that, for the next 12 weeks through the end of the NHL schedule, the darkness in Montreal will make the city resemble Canada’s arctic in deep December?
The playoffs up there? They’ll have Nunavut.
Kind of like Montreal. The Canadiens seem to be shuffling inexorably toward an early April gathering to perform an autopsy on this cursed season, though the eulogies already are being delivered.
On Sunday night, the website sportsclubstats.com calculated the Canadiens’ chances of qualifying for the postseason at 15.1 per cent. The night’s opponent, the Eastern Conference-leading New York Rangers, saw their odds at a somewhat better: 99.99 per cent.
Fifteen-point-one was marginally better than the dismal 12.9-per-cent “success” rate of the Canadiens power play going into Sunday’s game, the man-advantage – so to speak – ranked 29th in the 30-team NHL.
The number-crunching website calculated that the Canadiens would need a 22-12-4 run through season’s end to reach 88 points, which still might not be enough to punch a ticket to the playoff dance.
The Habs are putting on a brave face, at least to their customers. But they’re realistic enough to see the writing on the dressing room wall, updated daily on a depressing standings board.
Ticket-buyers and fans near and far afield, meanwhile, are slipping more deeply into resignation, each lost point reminding them that it’s counterproductive for this crew to scratch and claw to squeak into the playoffs where surely, they believe, the team will be eviscerated in the first round.
That might fatten the playoff-gate coffers of management, but not making the run of a pretender – “tanking” might be a little harsh – would improve draft position, thus beginning a reconstruction.
If you craved good news Sunday, you could have considered the statistic that had the Canadiens outscoring the Rangers 20-14 in their four previous Sunday meetings on Montreal ice.
But even that stat was tilted by way of the Habs’ 10-4 victory on Nov. 8, 1942, the teams’ first Sunday meeting in this town.
That was followed by a victory in 1970 and two losses during the 2007-08 season.
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