Feb 13, 2012, 11:22 PM EDT
Rarely can one clip symbolize a tough loss for two different teams, but I think Joe Pavelski‘s goal on Braden Holtby ties a nice bow around missed opportunities for both the Washington Capitals and Montreal Canadiens:
The San Jose Sharks topped the Capitals 5-3, but as just about any onlooker will tell you, the score was deceptively close. Washington essentially scored two garbage goals to put a little makeup on an ugly loss. (They did throw 30 shots on goal through two periods, which they hadn’t done in almost a year according to Neil Greenberg, so at least there’s that.)
You might be surprised to learn that the Montreal Canadiens were crawling back into the Eastern Conference playoff picture coming into Monday. Hope was building as they were within seven points of the eighth-place Toronto Maple Leafs after winning four games in a row, but they’ll remain that far behind while Toronto gains a game in hand.
The Caps’ match against the Sharks could have helped Washington make up for its stumbles in the Southeast Division race by at least getting them in the top eight. Things just got worse instead, though, because the Sharks slammed the lid hard on that opportunity.
East bubble update
If we’re going to give Montreal a half-serious look at the playoffs, perhaps it’s appropriate to at least ponder Carolina’s chances. (It’s probably not very realistic, though.) Here’s how the East bubble looks right now:
7. Ottawa: 28-22-8 for 64 points in 58 Games Played
8. Toronto: 28-22-6 for 62 points in 56 GP
9. Washington: 28-23-5 for 61 points in 56 GP
10. Winnipeg: 26-25-6 for 58 points in 57 GP
11. Montreal: 23-25-9 for 55 points in 57 GP
12. Tampa Bay: 24-25-6 for 54 points in 55 GP
13. Buffalo: 24-25-6 for 54 points in 55 GP
14. NY Islanders: 23-24-8 for 54 points in 55 GP
15. Carolina: 21-25-11 for 53 points in 57 GP
As you can see, the teams are separated into four groups which could be described as such: currently in the playoffs (7-8), knocking on the door (9-10), long shots (11-14) and just-about mathematically eliminated (Carolina).
Get your WINnipeg memes ready
Looking at the list, the biggest winner of Monday might just be the inactive Winnipeg Jets. They have two winnable games (vs. Islanders and at Minnesota Wild) followed by eight consecutive home games and 11 of 13 in Winnipeg.
(If there was such thing as gambling on media trends, I’d bet my imaginary mortgage on a stream of “How about those Jets” type headlines in a week or two.)
Final thoughts on Caps, Habs
Washington’s one bright side is that Toronto has a three-game losing streak of its own, so the Capitals are merely idling rather than sliding. Still, if they miss the playoffs, they’ll look back at runs like these to explain why.
Montreal’s probably just trying to save face, though, unless you really believe in miracles.
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