The Montreal Canadiens went through a plight last season, one that saw them start the season off red hot and cool off even faster. However, in 2015/16 the Canadiens' demise was attributed to one thing: the injury to goaltender Carey Price. As the home-stretch of the 2016/17 NHL season approaches Price is not injured, yet he has not enjoyed his very best season still. The Canadiens have once again regressed back toward the pack after a strong start to the season and that has opened the door for a come-from-behind champion in the Atlantic Division.

Florida Panthers can defend title

Most recently the Canadiens lost a 3-1 game to the Winnipeg Jets, a game that the Canadiens hosted on Saturday.

The result saw the Habs decline to 2-7-1 in their last ten games. The Florida Panthers, last season's divisional champs, have gone 7-2-1 in their last ten. As of Sunday evening, Florida now find themselves six points back of the Canadiens in the standings with two games at hand. It all makes for a tense race for the balance of the season, especially since there are other teams in the mix.

Ottawa Senators in 2nd place

The Ottawa Senators lost on Sunday and failed to gain any ground on Montreal. However, the Sens have still played about .500 hockey over the last stretch of ten games. That's nothing amazing, but it has certainly been good enough to close the gap on the Habs. Currently Ottawa sit just two points back of Montreal with two games at hand.

The Boston Bruins, the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Buffalo Sabres can all entertain some hopes of winning the Atlantic still. Montreal yielding so many points in the standings of late, has in fact resurrected the chances of those peripheral contenders. After that, it would take something special to see either Tampa Bay or Detroit get back into the thick of things.

They each have just 58 points and remain a full 12 points back of the Canadiens at present.

The NHL trade deadline is March 1st. It will be interesting to see which teams in the Atlantic make a move toward a divisional title or simply guarantee a post-season entry with a top-three finish. Needless to say, it is the Canadiens that are under the most pressure.

Not only were they the heavy favorites to win the division at the All Star break, but they don't have the Price-is-injured excuse anymore. Montreal's next game is on Monday and it's a tough ask as they travel to New York to take on the red hot Rangers.

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