I pick none of the above. A quote from HBO's 24/7 series comes to mind. Can't remember the exact words but it goes like this: teams are never as good as they look when they are winning but never as bad as they look when they are losing. Habs have been coasting since clinching but boy those are really bad habits to pick up so close to a first playoff game. Not sure if they'll turn it around.
Meh, the underlying stats are the same, so I doubt its the first one. I think after they clinched they took their foot of the gas and haven'tplayed with the same intensity. Everything spiraled from their.
There is such parity in the league today that a minor setback/change can have a much larger effect on a team's fortunes. In the Canadiens' case, the loss of Emelin has had a spiraling effect. The three top defenseman (Markov, Gorges and Subban) have been required to play additional minutes and have become worn down as a result. This applies particularly to Markov who hasn't played a full season in almost two years. You can see the effects of fatigue markedly lessening the quality of his play. Unless they can somehow become re-energized, this team won't last long in the playoffs.
I have no idea. I just don't think there is any Emelin factor. Maybe the team is tired, or became satisfied and complacent, or are in a funk they won't get out of. Or maybe they'll crank it back up and be fine for the playoffs. No idea. Emelin is just a bystander in it all, though.