From The Contrarian Goaltender:
"The 1986 Habs had the third best goal differential in the league, and appear to simply have been a victim of bad luck in close games as well as the tough Adams Division, where every team was .500 or better. Montreal went 15-15-2 against their divisional opponents, and 25-18-5 against everyone else."
"In fact as late as March 13, 1993, the Montreal Canadiens were actually in first place in the entire NHL."
The '86 club was 3rd in goal diff but finished 7th in a 21 team NHL.
The evidence for the 1993 club is a little less strong. They were only 8th in goal differential but finished 6th overall.
This year the numbers are #2 in goal differential and 3rd place overall, and we'll gleefully ignore the East/West imbalance.