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Draft lottery: the Canadiens approach the top-4
Credit: Capture d'écran / Screenshot

The Montreal Canadiens are having a horrible February so far. There’s a direct link between the club’s poor play and the absence of Sean Monahan, traded to the Jets.

When he was injured in 2022, it hurt the Habs. The club started going badly, and there was a lot more talk of a lottery in town from that point on.

When he was traded in 2024, it hurt the Habs. The club started going badly… so let’s talk about the lottery, shall we?

In yesterday’s games, the Canadiens’ opponents in the race for the first pick picked up points in the standings. The Coyotes earned a point, while the Sabres and Blue Jackets picked up a handsome W for the win.

Kent Hughes must be happy.

Marc-Olivier Beaudoin is right to point out that the Canadiens are currently one point out of the top-5, with Martin St-Louis’ men having 52 points and André Tourigny’s 51.

Even Cayden Primeau’s Blue Jackets, who have a game in hand on the Flanelle, aren’t completely out of reach. The Habs, who have the second-toughest schedule in the NHL between now and the end of the season, are only four points ahead of them.

The Ducks (43 points, nine behind the Habs) are further back… and teams like Chicago and San Jose (35 points) just really suck. Kent Hughes won’t be catching them.

All this to say that the Habs could logically aspire, if they continue to lose en masse between now and the end of the season, to have a 9.5% chance of getting the first overall pick.

(Credit: Tankathon)

But it’s more than that. If the club loses games – and slips down the standings – between now and the end of the season, and doesn’t win the lottery, it will draft higher than by winning games between now and the end of the season.

We all understand the principle.

That being said, we all agree that “overtaking” the Coyotes and Blue Jackets won’t be easy. And that’s even if they each have 25 games left instead of 24, like the Habs.

After all, while the Habs won’t have it easy at the end of the season, the same goes for Columbus and Arizona. Why is that? Because they’re bad hockey teams.

Take the Coyotes, for example.

Tomorrow night, they’ll be at the Bell Centre to take on the Habs in an important lottery game, but they’ll be showing up on the bangs of a 12-game losing streak. 12!

Why are the Coyotes on a 12-game losing streak? They’re not good, of course, but the controversies surrounding the team don’t help either.

Adam Ruzicka hasn’t helped his club, let’s say.

And if you think the players don’t mind the rumors of a move, you’re wrong. Would you like to work not knowing if your company will force you to move overnight?

That kind of explains what’s going on with the Coyotes, and why it’s going to be hard for the Habs to draft well.

That said, if Martin St-Louis’ men continue to play the way they do(even if they deserve better results) and lose games, the Coyotes will be breathing down their necks.

It also remains to be seen what the bad teams will do at the deadline, which is in ten days’ time. That, too, could affect the standings between now and the end of the season.

Note that this week, after the game against the Coyotes at home, the Club de Hockey Canadiens will travel to Florida to face the Panthers on Thursday and the Lightning on Saturday. These are tough teams.

And March won’t be easy after that, especially with a trip out West. I told you the club had the second-toughest schedule in the NHL between now and the end of the year, right?


In gusto

– Jayden Struble doesn’t know if he’ll play tomorrow. He’s hurt his back.

– He was excellent.

– Good thing he’s here.

– Read more.

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