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» 2006 » April

  • Habs Go for the Throat

    The Montreal Canadiens will look to steal their second straight road playoff victory tonight in Carolina. Pretty much written off as not having a chance the Canadiens went in and despite giving up a very early goal beat the Canes quite badly.

    Can they do it again? Carolina will be playing a little more desperately as they realize if they head back to Montreal down 2 games to none that their chances of winning the series are that much worse. The Canes will be feeling the pressure even more so this game and the Canadiens having already accomplished their goal of getting a split should be calm and cool and be able to play their style.

    All the pressure is on the Canes. A team that was never pressured all season long. Can they handle it? The Canadiens relaxed and played soccer on their day off while the Canes were probably working feverishly watching tape and wondering what went wrong.

    As it normally does, goaltending should play a big role. If Cristobal Huet’s goaltending is strong the Habs most definitely have a chance for the victory. On the other hand if Martin Gerber doesn’t rebound well and plays poorly the Canadiens will pounce all over him.

    If the Habs can get to Gerber early it could take the Canes out of it. Gerber’s GAA and save percentage have plummeted drastically at the end of the season and another poor game would bruise the Canes confidence even more.

    First goal is always crucial for the Habs but especially against a Canes team that almost never loses after scoring first. Gotta get to Gerber to keep that doubt in the Canes and keep those fans walking out the building.

    That being said, this Carolina team won’t roll over. They will come hard and fast and this is now the most important game in the young series. Canadiens going home up 2-0 would be devastating to the Canes but a 1-1 split evens it up and steals the momentum of the Canadiens huge opening win.

    Kovalev looks like the playoff performer that he is. When he is motivated and turns on that extra effort he is extremely dangerous and very fun to watch. Kovalev has that look in his eye and expect another big effort and big game from him. Kovalev has never lost a first round playoff series in his career and he seems intent on keeping that streak alive.

    The Habs can be the first team in the playoffs to go up 2-0 in a series and you can imagine the atmosphere at the Bell Centre Wednesday should that happen.

  • Canadiens Cream Carolina

    The Montreal Canadiens started their playoffs with a bang and a 6-1 victory on the road against the not so mighty Canes.

    After being picked to lose by the majority of the media and fans the Canadiens showed they can not only win against the Canes but win big and do it on the road. The Canadiens now have at least a split on the opening two road games and have stolen away the home ice advantage.

    After conceding the opening goal in the opening minute it looked as thought it might go the way the regular season games went and feature lots of Carolina offence. But it was the Habs who exploded offensively on the very very ordinary Martin Gerber.

    Gerber and Huet were big factors for their team in opposite ways. Huet stopped everything he needed to and the Canadiens defended two 5 on 3 powerplays without a goal. Gerber was weak from the beginning and let in 6 goals on a handful of shots. The already lame Carolina playoff crowd was stunned and silenced on numerous occasions and the building was half empty in the 3rd period.

    Gerber will probably have a chance to redeem himself but if he doesn’t turn it around and the Canadiens can steal a 2nd road win an even more inexperienced goalie Cam Ward might get the call which would be a pretty disheartening move and a doubtful feeling for Carolina skaters.

    The Canadiens neutralized Eric Staal perfectly much like they’ve done to Joe Thornton in the previous 2 playoff series. It was a very familiar feeling. The Canes also presented no physical aspect to the game or toughness other than Doug Weight hanging around Cristobal Huet for a little too long, for which he got a nice glove on punch in the chops from Sheldon Souray. Weight, Recchi, Williams were all missing in action.

    Souray might have been the only upsetting part of the Canadiens game as he was extremely weak on the first goal (like he’s been so many times this year) and also giving up a breakaway on the Canadiens powerplay.

    The Canadiens did it perfectly. They could not have aked for more and it’ll be interesting to see the confidence in their game for game 2. The series is far from over but the Canadiens could not have started better. You have to expect Gainey and Carbo are going to have them even better prepared, and despite Peter Laviolette’s excellent regular season record, he looks sadly outmatched in that department.