Faced with an impossible challenge to keep their season alive, the Montreal Canadiens are defying the odds.
A pair of big wins, on the road in Winnipeg and at home against the league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning have the Habs still in the closest playoff race in the NHL this season.
The Canadiens are tied with the Columbus Blue Jackets, and trail the Carolina Hurricanes by just one point. Montreal doesn’t hold the tiebreaker with either team, holding fewer regulation and overtime wins (ROW) than both Carolina and Columbus, so they need help.
All three teams have two games left, but the Canadiens have by far the most difficult games remaining. Montreal has to play a pair of powerhouse teams, while the Blue Jackets and Hurricanes each have two games remaining against non-playoff teams.
Here’s how each team’s remaining schedules shake down:
Thu, Apr 4: @ Washington Capitals
Sat, Apr 6: vs Toronto Maple Leafs
Columbus Blue Jackets
Fri, Apr 5: @ New York Rangers
Sat, Apr 6: @ Ottawa Senators
Thu, Apr 4: vs New Jersey Devils
Sat, Apr 6: @ Philadelphia Flyers
Analytics website Sports Club Stats currently lists Montreal as having just a 36.6% chance to make the playoffs, but the team still has confidence they can get it done.
“We still believe that we can make the playoffs,” Habs forward Artturi Lehkonen said after Tuesday’s big win. “We got two games to go, we’re going to win both of them and we’re going to make the playoffs.”
Montreal likely needs to win both of their remaining games to give themselves a chance, though they’ll still need a loss by either Carolina or Columbus to make their dream a reality.
The pressure’s on.