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» 2011 » October

  • Game 10: Habs/Bruins

    During a conversation about last night’s game with a fellow Habs fan today I blurted out that I felt relieved for that win in a way that I hadn’t since game 7 in Washington two years ago. A little dramatic to compare the 9th game of the season to the one which sent the under-dog Habs to the 2nd round of the playoffs against the Penguins – but that is how I felt. Not happy – but relieved.

    Frankly, the Habs are nowhere near being out of the woods. What they have given themselves however, is a sorely needed shot of confidence.

    Poor results over the first 8 games led some people to overlook the positives in the Canadiens game. The fact is – the team deserved much better. I count the Buffalo and Florida games as games that should have been victories. The Colorado and Toronto (V2) games were ones which the Habs could have won. We all know that should and could count for nothing – but had the Canadiens won ANY of those 4 games – the season would look much different today.

    First of all – Montreal would be 1- 2 points out of a playoff spot. Secondarily, the issues that have plagued this team – not being able to score when needed, giving up goals at inopportune times etc would not feel as drastic.

    The feeling last night was one of sheer panic when the Canadiens gave up the first goal – and then failed to register a shot by a forward at even strength. And yet, the Habs came alive in the 2nd period. They got some good bounces on defense and out-worked and out-shot their opponent, which despite their record – has NOT been much of an issue over the first 9 games.

    The result was that Montreal got rid of an 800 pound gorilla riding high on their shoulders.

    And so they head to Boston. It would be good if they could win another. Its going to take winning streaks to get them out of the cellar of the conference. They’re going to lose games – but if they continue to have the type of effort that we saw for the final 40 minutes last evening – they’re going to win more than they lose. Boston has also had a rough start, and they’re not going to give up easy. I expect that Montreal will need to play the best defensive game of the season to date in order to steal a road victory from a very desperate Bruins team.

    Go Habs Go!!!

  • Game 9: Habs/Flyers

    Remember last season when the Canadiens would excite all fans by playing lights out hockey against the league’s best teams and then soiling the bed sheets against the leagues bottom-feeders?

    There are two ways to look at tonight’s game:

    1) This is what has happened to the Habs early in the season – they just haven’t played the kind of competition that truly gets their motor running. Tonight they play the Flyers. Tonight they’ll be a playoff team.

    2) Lets hope the Flyers suffer from the same affliction we did last season – and play down to our bottom-feeding level.

    Let’s hope that at least one of these ludicrous narratives are true tonight because the Habs desperately need a win. But as bad as the 1-5-2 start has been to the 2011-12 season – the Habs are not out of the playoff hunt… yet.

    The 1923-24 Canadiens won only 33% of their games in the first half of that season and came back to win the Stanley Cup.

    The 79-80 version collected only 40 points in their first 40 games before exploding for 65 in their final 40 to make the post-season.

    In 99-00 the Habs had only 30 points at the half-way mark before exploding for 53 in the second half to miss the playoffs by 2 small points.

    Outside of the organization there have been some examples of teams suffering bad starts and still making the post-season.

    08-09 Blues: 1st – 35 2nd, 57 – Playoffs.

    07-08 Capitals: 1st – 37,  2nd 57 – Playoffs.

    97-98 Oilers: 1st – 31, 2nd 49 – Playoffs.

    So in summation – we’re good right?

    Not by a long shot. But still, while every media outlet in Canada is telling us that the sky is falling and will never be back the same again – there are teams who have gone through similar struggles and have gotten to the post season.  It will take multiple winning streaks to make it. The Habs will need other teams ahead of them to struggle. If this stretch of 8 games had happened in the middle of the season, there would be FAR less media attention. What makes it particularly difficult to watch – is the fact that other teams are accumulating points while we spin our tires.

    If there is one thing that I’ve learned in the 30 years I’ve watched the sport: its a long season. A lot can change. We just watched a baseball post season in which TWO teams suffered historic collapses to miss the post season. Of course, this means nothing for the Canadiens. The chances of missing the post-season are far greater at this point than making it. That is the new reality for the 2011-112 version of this club.

    Carey Price will need to play at his very best. The Canadiens need a veteran performance from Gionta, Cammalleri, Cole, and Plekanec. There can be no passengers tonight.

    Go Habs Go!!!!