The Rangers allowed the Penguins a point, which is as good as a win for them vs. the Habs. We would now need Pittsburgh to either lose 2, while we win 2/3; or lose 1, while we win 3/3.
Forgive me for not putting on my rosiest glasses on this morning, but Pittsburgh will not lose to Philadelphia twice. I would be surprised if they even lost once – but that's probably because I think Philly are the worst run team in the NHL behind the Blackhawks and Panthers.
Habs win three? That'd be nice, but may cost us a lot in energy. We should certainly try to, but should it be the priority?
Personally, I don't think it should.
In fact, if cheating were allowed (ahem, Pittsburgh and New York), I would arrange with the Sabres for an OT game on Thursday, in which we would allow them to win. It would be a win-win for them, as they absolutely need the 2 points. We only want the one to clinch second. The Sabres have no stake in whether we get that point or not, except they might prefer to play the Senators should they make the playoffs. But, honestly are they in a position to be picky about opponents?
If that scenario comes off, we should then allow the Senators to win tonight, so that they can keep an edge on Boston and Philly. The last thing we need is Ottawa in 7th.
Cheating nonsense aside, I think I would be quite pleased with a loss to Ottawa tonight. After all, if you think of the season as the real game as I do, then letting Ottawa win this battle in the war would be the sensible thing to do. Ottawa are the one team we could really make a case for trying to avoid. Beating them tonight would put them precariously close to a Habs match up. Keeping in mind, that Ottawa might like that themselves, I wouldn't be surprised at all either if Ottawa bring less to the table tonight.
Of course, all this does bring up the question about whether playing to lose is ethical, but I would argue that the Canadiens have earned the right by clinching with great hockey to this point. If you watch the Olympic semi-finals of track events, you will notice the top runners run for position, not time. They know that they need to be strategic and conserve energy for a final. These last games are analogous to a semi-final for the Habs. They are in the final, they are running for a lane. Pittsburgh looks to have taken lane 4, but the Canadiens have lane 5 even at a jog. At the end of the day, it's what they do with their lane that matters, not which lane they win...