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.