MONTREAL, QC. — Although I have been unable to trace the source, a hot rumour is that the Montreal Canadiens could be throwing hockey games in order to drop in the standings for a more ideal playoff matchup. The rumour was talked about enough that even the Team 990′s Mitch Melnick made mention of it earlier today on his radio show.
It kind of makes sense when you think about it, right? The Montreal Canadiens currently sit sixth in the Eastern Conference, and if the playoffs were to start today, they would battle off against the Boston Bruins who sit in third position. Although the Habs have won four of their six games against the Bruins this season, they’ve lost their last two games in Boston, were clearly intimidated and gave up 15 goals in the process. Without home ice advantage in the playoffs, it would make sense that they’d not want to face the Bruins.
Now if the Habs drop to seventh, that would put them up against the Washington Capitals who are in second position. Much better matchup, right? Well, the Habs lost three of their four games to the Caps this season and were shutout twice.
Maybe this rumour has more to it, oh, I see now!
The Capitals are on fire, they’ve won eight of their last ten games and are about to takeover the Philadelphia Flyers who hold the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Only two points currently separate them but the Flyers do have one game in hand.
This would put the Habs up against the Flyers and THAT would be a great matchup, right? Well, the Habs lost three of their four games to the Flyers this season, could not win in Philly, and their only victory came when Carey Price pushed back 41 shots in a three to nothing shutout. Maybe not that great of a matchup after all.
Oh but wait, the Penguins have also won eight of their last ten games! I get it now, are you keeping up? Recap. The Habs are now in seventh position after purposely throwing games. The Washington Capitals now sit in first, having passed the Flyers, who are second. Now let’s just say the Penguins overtake the Flyers and sit second . The Habs are now matched up against the Penguins! (Even I’m having trouble keeping up!)
We have a winner! The Habs have won three of their four games against the Penguins this season, and two of those wins were in Pittsburgh! This is the matchup they want!
I hope that by now, you’ve realized I’ve been totally sarcastic over this whole subject. These rumours never have a source because people wouldn’t dare attach their name to them. Would it make sense that the Habs hope for a more ideal playoff matchup? Of course it does, but they wouldn’t put the team at a risk in the process.
What’s important at this time of the season, with only six games remaining is for the Habs to enter the playoffs with focus and confidence. Right now, they have neither. Their last three games all lost by shutout is something unseen in the Canadiens’ organization for over 50 years. This is not scripted and neither was the punitive practice held by Jacques Martin on Sunday. Not any of this scripted, it’s simply hockey, and sometimes things don’t go your way for a multitude of reasons.
For someone to throw out there that the Habs would be throwing games for a more ideal playoff matchup, of course not, that’s sillier than silly putty.
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(Graphic: The Canadian Press/Graham Hughes)