Montreal could resort to sneaking into the post-season game – fr

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Montreal could resort to sneaking into the post-season game – fr


The Canadiens finished the season 3-6-1 against the Leafs, who are their likely first-round playoff opponents.

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It’s not the ideal situation, but the Canadiens may have to settle for reaching the playoffs through the back door.

Coach Dominique Ducharme said on Saturday he was hopeful Montreal could earn its place in the playoffs, but the Canadiens missed a third straight opportunity to do so when they dropped a 3-2 decision over the Maple Leafs. Saturday at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.

The Canadians also missed a chance to shoot even with the Winnipeg Jets in the battle for third place in the Canadian division. The Jets learned why the Senators are the hottest team in the division when they lost 3-2 at the Canadian Tire Center in Ottawa. Winnipeg kept two points ahead of Montreal and the Jets are also holding a game in hand.

Montreal is still in the driver’s seat when it comes to finishing fourth and final in the playoffs despite losing their last two home games to the Edmonton Oilers on Monday and Wednesday. That’s because Calgary or Vancouver would have won all of their remaining games to have a chance to overtake the Canadiens. A team will certainly be eliminated on Thursday when Calgary and Vancouver meet in the first of their remaining four games against each other.

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The big question mark after Saturday night is: will the Canadiens be ready to make the playoffs?

There was a decent effort in Toronto, but Montreal lost three in a row and they finished the season 3-6-1 against the Leafs, who are their likely first-round playoff opponents.

Ducharme was on a positive tie with his post-game comments.

“There are always ups and downs in a game,” he said. “We still want to play 60 minutes, but there will always be changes of pace. In general, I think the game could have gone both ways. I would say they may have had a more favorable rebound than us.

“I have confidence in our team,” added Ducharme. “We have players who will be back soon. We came out energetically tonight and I think we played a good game. It wasn’t perfect. (The Leafs) just capitalized on their chances.

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These returning players are the jokers. A healthy Carey Price will help, Shea Weber will boost the defense and Brendan Gallagher’s presence will give everyone a boost even if his broken thumb is limiting his effectiveness.

But it’s crucial for Phil Danault to recover from his concussion in time for the playoffs because the Canadiens don’t have a player who can do what Danault does. He’s playing tough minutes against the front lines of the opposition and he’s the most reliable Canadian in the face-off circle.

Danault could have made the difference on Saturday. In his absence, Nick Suzuki was the Canadiens’ busiest faceoff man and, on a night when the Canadiens only won 38 faceoffs, he was unusually good. He won 12 of 24 draws and his 50% success rate was one of his best performances this season and a win over John Tavares led to Suzuki’s 13th goal of the season.

The flip side was his head-to-head clash against Auston Matthews. Suzuki won just four of 14 faceoffs against Matthews and the Toronto star had a clear win to set Mitch Marner for the game-winning goal in the second period.

If this situation arises in the playoffs, the Canadiens will need Danault in the face-off circle.

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