In the real standings, yes they could certainly catch up since they sit just 2 points back of the Devils, Jets, and Panthers, (all tied for the last playoff spot.) However over in the fantasy world of bonus points for losing games and winning games in shootouts the picture is very different indeed as the Habs sit a whopping 8 points back.
All the teams they are chasing have one game in hand and Montreal will have to reel in 3 teams to secure a post season berth. A playoff team in the bonus points standings will probably need at least 90 if not 95 to make the playoffs.
With 33 games left and 66 points up for grabs, and with just 47 thus far, they will need 42 to 45 points to be in the hunt so 20 wins in their last 33 games will not be good enough. They will need 22 wins and 2 or 3 ties or a record of 22-8-3 or better. If they hit double digits in the loss column, that will likely signal the end of their season.
The remaining home and away schedule is balanced much like their home and away records, .500 at home and two games under .500 away. Perhaps the Wings game will be a confidence builder and they can put together a winning streak after the break.
They play every other day in February so have the schedule to get the momentum to get on a roll especially considering all the opposition are beatable except for perhaps Boston. The schedule in March/April is tougher with Vancouver, the Rangers, and the Flyers likely posing a problem, however if they can beat the teams they lead and beat the teams they need to catch, the schedule is in fact favourable. Arguably 28 of their last 33 games are against opposition that they should be able to beat if they really are a playoff team.
Lest we forget, two years ago they knocked off two heavily favoured teams in making it to the final 4. Last year brutal officiating in game 7 cost them the series and of course Boston’s goalie went on to win the cup for Bean town.
The first two weeks will tell the tale: they will have to start racking up the wins and fast in order to play meaningful games come April. With the type of effort displayed in the 7-2 victory over the Wings last Thursday, they just might be playing well enough to make a serious attempt.