The Canadiens host game 6 tonight at home against Carolina after falling down 3 games to 2 in the best of 7 series. A loss tonight will end the Canadiens 2005-2006 NHL campaign which would be especially heartbreaking after taking a 2-0 series lead and giving hope to fans of at least a 2nd round birth.
Are the Canadiens out of it? Absolutely not. Will it be easy? Absolutely not.
The Canadiens have lost every game by one single goal. They are going to have to go that extra distance and become the team with that extra goal rather than chasing it late in the game. Have the Canes shown their early season dominance? Not at all. The Habs at many times looked as good or better than the Canes and watching the series you don’t get the feeling the Canes are anything like the 2nd place seed and offensive powerhouse.
That being said, the Habs have to execute a better game plan or they’ll be packing their bags tonight. After the outbursts in game 1 and 2 the Habs offence has been rather sad scoring only 4 goals in 3 games. They have not been able to beat Cam Ward consistently. If the Canes didn’t start Gerber in game 1 and 2 would the Habs still be in this series?
The powerplay must improve. If they cannot take advantage of the extra man and be able to score they won’t win. They can barely beat Cam Ward 5 on 5 and the powerplay was absolutely pathetic last game. Carolina on the other hand could not beat Huet either other than with 2 PP markers through thick and heavy screens which he had almost no chance on. Learn something from that maybe and start crashing the net and causing traffic. No more fancy Mike Ribeiro dangles and weak dump in’s when no one is getting into the corners to win those pucks back.
Refereeing has and may again be a factor in this series. No one wants to see the series end on some garbage penalty call or a missed call. There’s been enough negative attention surrounding the referees already. If the Canadiens fall at home due to some ‘iffy’ calls it could get ugly.
The story will likely be the same. Huet and Ward being the main guys for their team. Whoever wants it more is going to win tonight. Do you think Rod Brind’Amour wants it a little more than Mike Ribeiro? Our heart and soul guys like Souray, Rivet, Ryder are going to have to want it more and play for their lives. This is the type of game where Saku Koivu is most missed.
Of course the decisive factor could be Alex Kovalev. History shows when it’s on the line he shows up and makes the difference, the Habs will need some of that tonight.
A win tonight and it’s all down to one game.
Before the playoffs started anyone would have taken that situation against mighty Carolina.