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» 2007 » March

  • Playoff Bound

    …for the moment.

    The Canadiens played their best period of the season last night against the Rangers scoring 5 unanswered goals in less than 12 minutes.

    Unfortunately, they weren’t that consistent for the whole 60 minutes forcing them to come from behind 2-0 and then stifle a 3rd period Ranger onslaught.

    Alex Kovalev…what can you say about him that hasn’t been said? Love him or hate him, this is the time of year that he shines and he is certainly doing so lately for the Habs.

    Kovalev thrives on pressure, he doesn’t even wake up until St-Patrick’s day has come and gone. Kovalev has never lost a Game 7 in his career, and with every game these days being like a seventh game – he’s been leading the way.

    When a player with his talent cares and is involved in the game, he is a lot for opponents to deal with and a huge asset down the final stretch.

    Jaroslav Halak is getting the job done. The 4 goals he allowed yesterday are deceiving, he made crucial saves time and time again and kept the Rangers from running away with it early as well as climbing back in it late. Finally the Canadiens get consistent in nets and 5 consecutive wins follow.

    Plekanec, Kostitsyn and Higgins. This dynamic line continues to do damage and looks better each game. Tomas Plekanec is playing with confidence that he lacked in the first half of the season and is proving to be a quality hockey player. Ribeiro who…?

    Maxim Lapierre, the official Sean Avery or Darcy Tucker of the Canadiens. He is a pest and he is very effective in that role. He seems to relish in it and enjoys disturbing anyone he can.

    In addition to my excellent blogging skills, I’m quite proficient at reading lips and Maxim Lapierre had an exchange at the face off dot that went something like this:

    Lapierre to Avery: “What’s your name? …..Oh? I never heard of you….”

    It seemed to get under his skin as Avery would soon after prove his toughness by trying to fight Andrei Markov.

    Lapierre gets props for going after everyone and anyone and calling out tough guys in his broken English. The type of guy everyone on the other team wants to pound and will sometimes take penalties in doing so.

    The Habs finally got a bit of luck and gained 2 points on every team in the race except the Leafs who kept pace with a win of their own.

    Next up the Senators and Sabres who are never easy. Considering they are back to back games Cristobal Huet might get a start.

  • The Final Stretch

    The Habs have just six games remaining in their regular season schedule. The battle for the playoffs is fierce and involving several teams rather than just a couple.

    The Canadiens take on the Rangers tonight and once more before the season’s end. Needless to say the team that does better in those meetings is going to have a better chance at the post-season.

    Both teams are coming in hot, the Rangers with the NHL’s hottest goalie are riding a 5 game winning streak. The Habs accomplished their job of beating the non-contending teams and will face a stiffer challenge in the last stretch.

    6-0 to finish the year would be ideal, but improbable. A record of 4-2 might be what the Habs need to slide into one of the remaining spots. As long as those victories include the games against the Rangers and Leafs. As always, the extra point can and will continue to haunt the Canadiens who without that rule, would currently be above Carolina in the standings.

    If the Habs do lose, the Ottawa and Buffalo games would be the place to do it without giving up too much ground. Although the Habs have challenged against Buffalo in nearly every game this year.

    There’s simply too many options, too many potential results and outcomes involving too many teams. The season will probably come down to the last game of the year in Toronto. Maybe even the day after as the Islanders will play their final game on the following Sunday.

    Bottom line, the playoffs are attainable. If the Canadiens focus and win their important games, the rest will take care of itself. It’s for them to earn and prove they belong.

    Three teams will be in, and three will miss by a hair. Victory, and bitter bitter defeat.

    Either way, this is exciting. This is what hockey’s all about. The best time of year for hockey starts tonight and the Bell Centre will be jumping.