The Canadiens blew a 3-0 lead to lose their final game of the season 4-3 to the Devils. The Devils fought back and earned the 3rd spot in the Eastern Conference and home ice advantage after being on the brink of the playoffs only 3 weeks ago.
The Canadiens started great as they always do when there is no ‘pressure’ on them. After clinching the night before the Habs were playing loose and effective and earned a 3-0 lead. Then they got a little too loose and complacent and the Devils fought their way back in and stole the game in the 3rd period. It wasn’t a pretty site for Habs fans hoping to go strong into the playoffs but really means absolutely nothing now.
The playoffs are upon us and everyone is starting fresh. The anticipated matchup against the Senators didn’t happen but not due to the Habs loss.
Ottawa pounded the Rangers and Carolina was shut out by Buffalo giving the Senators 1st place in the East.
Can the Canadiens beat the Hurricanes?
The numbers this year would give you a pretty clear answer and that answer is no. The Hurricanes dominated the Canadiens this year winning every game and outscoring the Canadiens 25-9 in the process. One of Jose Theodore’s finest outings of the season when he was embarrassed en route to an 8-3 Carolina victory.
Do the regular season numbers mean anything? You can’t ignore the fact the Hurricanes beat us easily but you have to remember these are the playoffs now. A different Habs team and a different Hurricane team. A new season and with a lot more on the line.
The Canes are not ‘hot’ lately as they have been all season. The additions of Mark Recchi and Dough Weight seemed to have shifted the balance of the team in a negative way as opposed to helping them. The loss of Erik Cole to a neck injury is a big loss as well.
No one thought the Canadiens would upset Boston in the past 2 playoff series and they did. Coming back from a 3-1 defecit on top of it.
What franchise has more playoff history experience and tradition? Montreal or Carolina?
On paper its a very tough series and going to be an uphill battle.
What are the keys to beating the Canes?
The Habs top players have to be playing their absolute best. Starting with goaltending. Hot goaltending is what makes the difference and wins playoff series.
This begs the question who will get the start? A little bit of a controversy is brewing in Montreal over the starting goaltender. Mainly hyped by the media. There is no problem in nets and in fact we are at an advantage having 2 quality healthy goaltenders heading in. It is a positive thing not a negative.
Who gets the start?
- Cristobal Huet who carried us to the playoffs and has great numbers but no playoff experience.
- David Aebischer who has been in and around playoff teams and Cup winners.
Huet took us there and deserves the start. If he plays poorly that’s one thing and Aebischer could always come in if needed. Huet has proven himself a quality goalie and earned the right to start. I see no reason to have this guy on the bench when the puck drops.
Can Huet or Aebischer outplay Martin Gerber?
The Habs will have to contain the Hurricane offence which boasts seven 20+ goal scorers and 100 pointer Eric Staal. The Habs will also have to have their special teams firing. Staying out of the box and strong penalty killing might make the difference in their ability to steal wins. A hot powerplay will be needed to compete against a team that puts up lots of goals.
The agitators like Murray and Downey will have to get the Canes top players off their game. Strong physical play by Komisarek, Souray and Rivet will be needed to
slow down the speed and skill of the Canes. Carolina can beat the Canadiens speed with their own and there will have to be a physical element to the Habs game or they could be outclassed.
Goaltending, special teams, top players excelling, role players doing their job. The team basically has to play their absolute best 60 minutes of every game to have a chance. Luck also plays a big part in the playoffs too and maybe the Forum ghosts have finally moved into the Bell Center to help us out.
The first goal is to steal a game on the road and get back to Montreal 1-1 or better.
Canadiens and Canes, should be a fast paced exciting series.