BRIGHTON - So another night in the National Hockey League and another loss for the Montreal Canadiens, and it comes to the much weaker Columbus Blue Jackets.
This time, the loss stings more than others. Why? Because the Habs could have extended their winning streak to two games Monday night (yes I said two games!) - but like most nights lately we are talking about how far the team is falling out of a playoff spot. Not only that, but the Jackets are sitting in last place in the league.
The Canadiens now sit in tenth place in the Eastern Conference, and three points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning for the final wild card spot. The team does not have a tough schedule for the next week, in fact it looks like it should play in their favour - but don't get your hopes up. Tuesday night they play the second part of their home-and-home series against the Blue Jackets, then they wait until after the all-star weekend to head to Philedelphia and back home to play Buffalo. These three next games will be the deciding point if they are going to make a push at the postseason. Michel Therrien and his squad would need the six points with three wins to be in a wildcard position, but the way they've been playing against the league's weaker teams lately, they'd be lucky to even come out with one point.
There are so many questions surrounding the team right now - a lot of which were cleared up by general manager Marc Bergevin last Thursday. Head coach Michel Therrien and his staff can breathe a sigh of relief as they now know that their jobs are safe at least until the end of the season. This comes as no surprise, as Therrien and Bergevin have a close relationship. It would also be difficult to fire the guy you just extended just one summer ago in July, 2014. That being said, what should the team do about its glaring need for scoring? It's not an easy thing to tackle. But their best bet is to buckle up, evaluate the team and address who are the team's untouchables. Right now, there are four core players that make up the better part of their core. That being: Carey Price, captain Max Pacioretty, P.K Subban, Brendan Gallagher with the potential of Alex Galchenyuk being in that conversation too.
Depending on how the next three or four games go, the team will also have to address the Carey Price situation. If they remain three points out of a wildcard spot, Bergevin may opt to push Price backup into the lineup. If the Canadiens are further than five to ten points out, then you can pretty much assume that Price will not return this season.
Like the Price injury, we are just weeks away from the NHL trade deadline. But I will save to talk about that for another piece.
Over the next week, I will be analyzing and offering my opinion on the Canadiens season, and some of the possible scenarios that Habs fans could see played out in the not-so-distant future.