Everyone knows that Montreal barely made the playoffs. But no one seems to realize how close the habs were from missing it. In the end, the difference between playoffs and holidays was one little goal, scored in january.
Just look at this:
Montreal and Florida have the exact same record. Same number of points, same number of wins.
So what was the tiebreak between those two teams? According to the nhl, here is how it works:
“At the conclusion of the regular season, the standing of the teams in each Conference shall be determined in accordance with the following priorities in the order listed:
- a) First place in each of the three Divisions seeded 1, 2 and 3.
- b) The higher number of points earned by the Club.
- c) The greater number of games won by the Club.
- d) The higher number of points earned in games against each other among two or more Clubs having equal standing under priorities (b) and (c).
- e) The greater positive differential between goals scored for and against by Clubs having equal standing under priority (d).”
So, the difference here was the games played between Montreal and Florida. Here is how it went between those two teams:
Oct 20. Montreal 3-1 Florida, in Montreal
Dec 29. Montreal 5-2 Florida, in Florida
Jan 4. Montreal 6-5 Florida (SO), in Montreal
Jan 29. Montreal 1-5 Florida, in Florida
Montreal earned 6 pts, Florida 3, so Montreal is in. But if Florida had managed to win the Jan 4 game in regulation, the two teams would have split the points. And we would have had to use the last tiebreak : the greater positive differential between goals scored for and against.
In this case, Florida would be in. They’re +3 and Montreal is +2 (and had Florida won that january game, the difference would have increased).
Of course, things would probably have gone a bit differently yesterday if Montreal had’nt already grabbed its playoffs spot, and yes, if Florida had won that game back in january, the two teams would not have ended with the same record, so that’s pretty much a moot point, but it just shows how close things really were.
UPDATE: I just quickly went through the last 20 seasons, and it never happened during that span that two teams ended up with the exact same record, but one made the playoffs and the other did not. (I’m not sure this sentence makes sense in English, but whatever). On some occasions, the 8th and 9th teams (or the 4th and 5th when the playoffs were determined into each division) had the same number of points, but never the exact same record. It’s completely meaningless, and I shouldn’t lose my time researching something like this, but I just found this situation funny (well, except for the Panthers fans of course…)