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» 2010 » April

  • Playoffs start Thursday – Habs/Caps

    I’ve been feeling a lot of deja vu lately. In 2006/07, the Canadiens their last game of the season against the Toronto Maple Leafs and were subsequently bumped from the playoffs. Once again this year, on the last day of the season Montreal managed to lose to the Leafs, this time in overtime, luckily needing only one point to advance to the post-season. It was close. Too close. Last season the Montreal Canadiens lost 3 of their last 4 games to end the season in 8th place setting up a first round matchup with a dangerous, young team with the most points in the league. Sound familiar?

    Montreal’s late season melt-down has brought forth a problematic new reality for any faithful souls who hold onto the hope that Montreal can make a long post-season run. Our first round opponent had 33 more points than us in the regular season. 15 more wins to be exact. For all the talk of their goaltending problems, Washington held a +85 goal differential during the 82 game regular season. Let’s just say you don’t want to know what our differential was.

    But even though the Caps hold a definite advantage in all statistical categories there is evidence to suggest this series has the potential to be an exciting one. During the regular season the Habs held a 2-1-1 record against the Caps. The games were all close, and while most people are predicting a short series with a Washington win, you can never count a team out in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ve seen too many upsets over the years to think differently.

    This much is for sure: to have ANY chance in this series, Montreal will need to have fantastic goaltending by whoever finds themselves between the goal posts. There is very little margin for error when you’re facing a team that threatens to score on almost every shift. The Habs will need to play a smart, defensively sound game and find a way to capitalize (no pun intended) on their scoring opportunities when  they get them. Down the stretch this is what truly killed the team. From the powerplay on down, Montreal forwards started running cold. We failed to take advantage of the openings that other teams gave us, and as a result our results were not good.

    The fun starts Thursday in Washinton. Giddy-up.

    Go Habs Go!!!

  • Game 81: Habs/Hurricanes

    Its understandable that in the Habs universe you take nothing for granted. For all that we’ve been through in the past 24 months, it is entirely predictable that we should feel uneasy as to what the outcome of the next 2-9 games will be. All week I’ve been reading from bloggers, posters and journalists alike: It is still possible that the Habs don’t make the playoffs. The scenario exists, however improbable, that the 2009/10 Canadiens will not be in the post-season. For those willing to be a little bold it is still a difficult task to muster the courage to verbalize what might happen once we get to the playoffs. As I said, we’ve earned the right to apprehension.

    24 Months ago, the Habs ended a Cinderella regular season in which they clinched the Conference title, only to nearly lose in the playoffs against the Bruins whom they had beaten 8 straight times that year, and eventually falter to the Flyers.  12 Months ago the Habs backed into the last playoff spot only to be swept by the Bruins in the first round. It was enough tumult to make those riding the SS Canadiens seasick.

    Now, After 24 months of elating highs and dark lows, it is difficult to put your blind faith in the Bleu, Blanc, Rouge.  There are very few shouting “this is our year!” from the tops of Montreal rooftops. There are probably more ready to jump. That said, Montreal has the opportunity to eliminate the impact of a terrifying deja-vu rendezvous with those Laffs who seem bent on screwing us, even if it only means losing to every single playoff rival we have during the final 5 games of their season. There isn’t a Habs fan out there that wants to see ANY of our valuable assets out against the Leafs in a do-or-die final game of the regular season.

    The game tonight is yet another opportunity for the Canadiens to seize the playoffs for themselves, as well as ensure they have a chance at being ranked in 6th place which could come in handy should miracles happen in the first round and the Habs eventually run into a lower ranked opponent in the post season. A win in regulation will do it. A loss in over-time is not preferable, but will also do it. A loss in regulation allows for the nightmare scenario to continue.

    I’m cheering for a win tonight (as always). If for nothing else than piece of mind over the weekend. Go Habs Go!!!