Montreal Canadiens hockey is nearing a return as the NHL and NHLPA have finalised protocols for Phase 3 and 4 in the NHL Return to Play Plan. What are the Canadiens’ chances to win the Stanley Cup?
A tentative agreement seems to have been reached between the NHL and NHLPA to press forward with the last two phases of the NHL’s Return to Play Plan, the creatively hammered out strategy for the resumption of the 2019-2020 NHL season that was put on hold snappishly due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Since the NHL announced its Return to Play Plan last month, hockey fans and bettors alike have had some cause for hope. That the 2019-2020 NHL season would indeed reach a fair and rightful conclusion was welcomed enthusiastically; instead of reverting to what was a most unpalpable alternative by many — one that didn’t even bear thinking about — to send the pandemic-hit season to the scrap heap. Writing it off, entirely.
According to the latest round of negotiations, training (Phase 3) potentially could get underway as early as 13 July; the resumption of game-play (Phase 4) is likely to start on 1 August (or thereabouts), with teams reporting to the appropriate hub cities a week prior; and the conclusion of the Stanley Cup finals coming around in October – meaning the 2020-2021 NHL season would be pushed back to November.
The NHL hasn’t officially announced the chosen hub cities, but, according to NHL insiders (as reported by various reputable media outlets), Canadian cities – Edmonton and Toronto – are increasingly looking like the chosen ones. The premise: Canada’s performance in battling the coronavirus outbreak is decidedly better thus far than USA’s, making Canada not only a popular but responsible choice that both the league and players can agree on.
That the league has decided to conduct the remainder of the season north of the border must also be considered an advantage for the six Canadian outfits set to compete in the modified playoffs: Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, Winnipeg Jets and Vancouver Canucks. Moreover, the Canadiens, arguably, have the shortest trek to Toronto aside from the hosts.
There’s something to be said for being close to home over an extended, two-month trip (for those teams that go deep in the playoffs). Mainly, families living in Canada will be able to travel to the hub cities and participate in the proceedings or lend support, and that is an advantage that can’t be understated.
Montreal Canadiens only just made the 24-team cut off by the skin of their teeth in the Eastern Conference. Ranked 12th in the Eastern Conference standings with a 31-40-9 mark and 71 points to their credit, the Canadiens were merely 3 points ahead of Buffalo Sabres (68 points).
Most crucially, the Canadiens were riding a three-game losing streak when the season came to a crashing halt. One more loss and the team might have been surfing the couch in the postseason rather than skating to a potential Stanley Cup.
It must be said, the Canadiens are on thin ice as far as sports betting markets go. Tipped as a longshot in NHL betting markets to win the Stanley Cup, the odds are well and truly stacked, a reflection of the condition in which the season left off.
However, after nearly five months off, there’s an argument to be had that the resurrected season/playoffs is a whole new prospect: a tabula rasa, so to speak. As such, there’s a debate to be had about how reflective the odds really are, with respect to the unique and extraordinary conditions before the NHL. Are they a fair and correct evaluation or simply based on past performance that may no longer be applicable?
For those hockey fans that fancy a flutter on Montreal’s odds, Pinnacle sportsbook sets up the Canadiens at a tasty +4000 to win the Stanley Cup.
A lot has changed for teams since the novel coronavirus hit the world like a meteor coming out of nowhere. Team facilities have been sat idle for months, coaches and players have been kept apart, confined by virus-mandated edits, and training and play has been limited.
What’s more, the business of hockey has continued remotely in the background, including trade deadlines that have come and gone , altering the makeup of several teams. Montreal has lost IlyaKovalchuk, Nate Thompson, Nick Cousins, Riley Barber, Matthew Peca and Marco Scandella. That is sure to impact Montreal’s chances.
But so too have other teams experienced wholesale changes. In some respects, you could say it’s a wide-open field of play as a result, wherein Montreal, theoretically, has as good a shot as any other team to make a run for the Stanley Cup, especially if the hub cities indeed will be in Canada.
They are put forward as a result of pinnacle review of the field of play
For a popular but reliable and authentic account of online sportsbooks and their merits, SBR’s comprehensive Pinnacle review for 2020 shows a favourable outlook.