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» 2010 » February

  • Game 58: Habs/Bruins

    It never takes very much to set the mood for these two clubs. Living in Beantown last year I can tell you from first-hand experience that Bruins fans feel the same loathing and disgust that we feel towards them. Last year I watched a fat slob of a Broons fan swear at a middle aged French-Canadian woman and block her from passing his seat simply because she wanted to use the rest room while wearing a Habs jersey. As I was leaving TD Banknorth (suffering enough with the normal rage I feel when the Habs lose), I had a particularly hilarious Bruins fan shout me down saying it was “a long ride home – and thanks for Michael Ryder *&%!”. I didn’t want to get into the fact that I lived just accross the Charles River from the Arena – literally in view, or that Ryder was a ticking time-bomb of disapointment waiting to explode all over his black and vomit-yellow jersey. I feel particularly vindicated this week since Bruins management has put Ryder and his ridiculous contract on the trading block.

    For two teams with such animosity, it is interesting to think about the similar ups and downs that these two teams have shared over the past three years. Both have lead the Eastern Conference in points in the regular season. Both just squeaked into the playoffs while the other accomplished this. Both teams have relied on veteran defensemen (Chara and Markov), and tied their fates to the emergence of prospects within their system. What is interesting is how long it has been since both the Bruins and Habs shared the same portion of the Eastern Conference standings. It is this factor that makes intensifies the rivalry that will come to a head in 2 of the next 3 games.

    Both teams have struggled with injury. Both teams are capable when healthy and properly motivated of competing at a high level. The Canadiens tenuously hold 7th place with a 3 point lead on the Bruins (12th) with 3 games in hand. Wins over the Bruins would leave them in the dust. A split would prolong the misery of watching other teams struggle to jump over us. Losses would allow the Bruins to jump well past us. In a season where almost every game has been a must-win, creating exhilerating highs and bitter lows, the Habs will be put to the test once again. If they play as they did against Vancouver, we will be pleased. Play as they did in Florida and we will be in trouble.

  • Game 57: Habs/Canucks

    The Habs will be in tough tonight as they face one of the league’s hottest teams in the Vancouver Canucks who have won their last 7 games. They go up against the Sedin twins who some believe came within 24 hours of potentially suiting up for the Habs this year. In itself, that is bad news. Worse however, is the news that the team’s leading goalscorer (by a huge whopping prairie mile) Michael Cammalleri will be sidelined with a knee injury for 6-8 weeks. For the NHL’s worst 5 on 5 team that is about as bad a break as it gets.

    One of the things I remember talking about during the 07/08 season when the Habs finished the regular season in first place was how important it was that the team had remained in relative good health for most of the season. It can’t be understated how important that is to a team. Its why a team like Detroit can go from Stanley Cup contender to bubble playoff team in one season. In San Jose almost all of the top players have played 50+ games with Heatley, Marleau, Thornton, and Clowe playing all 55. They got on a roll, and have stayed on a roll without interuption, just like in 07/08 when Kovy, Plex, and Kostitsyn were firing on all cylanders (only way better).

    While many will correctly counter with the idea that injuries are no excuse, they are an effect. This team is not resilient or deep enough to withstand the constant injuries that they have dealt with to top players.  This is a team that still needed pieces with a full (or close to it) lineup on the ice. 09/10 has been a year in which this team has been consistently cut down just as things started to come together. It has been a year with no momentum (other than a few short bursts).

    With huge changes taking place around the league, and disaster looming around every bend in Montreal, it will be interesting to see how the rest of this season plays out. There have been rumours that Montreal may have been close to a deal that may have been tied to the NY-CAL trade. There have been whispers of deals almost all season for that matter. With the upcoming Olympic break preceeding the trade deadline, there is all kinds of wild speculation as to the possibilities of what could happen.

    As for tonight’s game. All I can say is I want a win. Just one win. Lets start with that and go from there. I want to see a team that cares go out and play a full 60 minutes and show themselves most importantly that they can fight through adversity and win. As bad as things have been (or could get), everybody likes a win. And in the East… everybody NEEDS a win. We’ve lost 7 of our last 11 games.  Boston has lost 11 of their last 13 games. NYR have lost 8 of their last 11. The Islanders have dropped 6 0f 7. Until, the mess we’re in clears itself (for better or worse) we’re destined to remain in an uncomfortable limbo. I’d prefer to clear the picture ourselves with a W.