Marc Bergevin had already done a cross on a participation in the playoffs. In February, the director general of the Canadian has traded defender Marco Scandella as well as forwards Ilya Kovalchuk, Nate Thompson and Nick Cousins to replenish its bank of choice in the repechage.
Dated 12 march, to the interruption of activities in the NHL because of the pandemic of the COVID-19, CH found itself in 12th place in the Association of the East with 71 points in 71 games. They were 10 points of the Blue Jackets of Columbus, who held the eighth and last place giving access to the prom in the spring. And the Jackets had played a match less.
The series represented therefore an illusion for the Habs. According to the website Hockey-reference, which computes the mathematical odds for a presence in the series, the Habs had a 0.1% chance of getting there.
But Geoff Molson, Bergevin and the other leaders of the team come to receive a gift from the heavens. They didn’t even have to get out a magic wand. They simply had need of the stimulus of Gary Bettman and the governors of the NHL to finish the season 2019-2020 with a formula of 24 teams in the playoffs. This plan should also receive the blessing of the players ‘ Association to the NHL after a vote taken Friday by the representatives of the 31 other teams.
Price against Crosby
Shea Weber, the captain of the CH, has described this fate with a lot of honesty during an interview granted to a radio station in Vancouver, TSN 1040.
“I won’t lie, it really would have been quite a task to reach the playoffs, said the defender. In the current context, it is well to include the teams that were in the playoffs. From that moment on, it will be up to us to take advantage of it. There is more momentum, all the teams will start on an equal footing. We have a goalie who can make us win games and lead us away. There are always surprises every year in the series. It is up to us to take advantage of it and make it our series. “
According to the formula proposed, the CH faces the Pittsburgh Penguins in a series of three to five. The winner of this duel would get his ticket for the traditional tournament of the series with 16 qualified teams.
In the standings, the Penguins were advancing the tape to Claude Julien for several kilometres, with 86 points in 69 games. It is 15 more points and two games less. Despite this gap between the two teams, Sidney Croby, Evgeni Malkin and Kristopher Letang will need three wins against the Habs to continue the adventure series.
The wholesale markets
Bettman and the leaders of the NHL not dare possibly not say it, but the owners will benefit from the presence of a large market like Montreal, “in series” to sell their product. By a funny coincidence, the 12th in the Association of the West belonged to another important market for the NHL, the Chicago black hawks.
The New York Rangers, 11es in the Is according to the formula of points per games played, also help the visibility of this end of the season with 24 teams.
And in the last chance ?
When a DG place a sign to sell before the trade deadline, it is to focus on the next draft and not the playoffs. For the auction of 2020, and that the date is not known, the Canadian currently has 14 choice.
Uncertainty about the last chance
Bergevin prayed likely to win the lottery for Alexis Lafrenière, the young prodigy of the Océanic de Rimouski. According to the usual formula for the lottery of the draft, the Canadian had a 6% chance of getting the first choice and 19 % chance to win one of three lotteries, so the top three choices.
With the 24th rank in the overall standings, the Canadian would have talked to the 8th rank, if the team did not earn one of the three lotteries. In the worst scenarios, the CH would have obtained the 11th choice, in the very rare case where three teams won the three pins.
Bergevin and Trevor Timmins will likely be questions to the leaders of the NHL. In the event of a win against the Penguins in this series three to five, it is of interest to speculate on the future choice of the first round. Is it that the CH would be his choice for the first round to become the 16th choice overall ?
And if the CH was to cause another surprise in the next round, is that the choice will decline again ?