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Game 5: Habs/Pens

  • The Canadiens have been down this road already in the 2010 playoffs. Despite playing well against the Capitals, the Habs found themselves behind in their first round playoff series. The resolve shown to fight back and eventually win that series astounded the hockey world. Though the situation in this series is similar, there are differences between our two opponents which will make a comeback in this series much more difficult – thus making tonight’s contest at the Bell Centre that much more valuable.

    One of the largest criticisms that have been laid upon the Capitals since Montreal’s game 7 win has been that Washington never made the adjustment needed to counter Montreal’s game plan of quick strike offense, and all out defense. Washington played out the series expecting that at some point their offensive ability would trump the Canadiens will to win. The Penguins have already shown us that they are willing to adapt which is as critical a skill needed to become champions as any other.

    Frustrated by Montreal’s ability to pressure puck carriers, and force turnovers at the defensive blue line, the Penguins have begun to dump pucks in deep with the intent of banging up our already bruised defenders. Instead of playing to our strengths, they shifted their focus to our weakness. The result of this adjustment is that Montreal has had an incredibly difficult time moving pucks through the neutral zone. The Penguins have turned our own strategy against us. I’d dare say they’re better at it too. The strategy of no-mistake, dump, crash, and chase is best attempted with 4 functioning lines for obvious reasons. While the Penguins have been able to roll 4 lines (in essence), we have relied primarily with 3 because of Martin’s desire to keep Sergei, Darche and Maxwell away from the action. Whether or not we agree with this is irrelevant.

    The question for tonight will be: Can the Montreal Canadiens adjust in the same way the Penguins have? There is no doubt that they need to do a better job of controlling the play when they can, especially from the 2nd period on. There was a point in the Washinton series where many of us noted, that the good habits the Habs were displaying were becoming less of an¬†anomaly, and more often the rule. The Habs players themselves talked about the fact that they knew they could beat Washington even after game 4 when they saw the series at 3-1. What I’m trying to say is that by doing the little things well, winning becomes a habit. By imposing your will on your opponent (which is what happened in Washington), you control the outcome of the game. Montreal will not dominate the Penguins, but they can certainly beat them. This series will have an entirely different feel if Montreal can once again defeat the Stanley Cup Champs. Its about skating and making good passes to set up our offense. I can’t wait.

    Go Habs Go!!!!

  1. #1 Senet1 says:
    May 6, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    Well Mats you hit the nail on the head with us having to adjust to the Pens change in tactics of dump, chase and crash our D. It took us two period to figure it out. Captain Kirk got them coming back and supporting the D better so the D had someone to pass to coming out of our zone. That allowed us to move the puck better and provide outlet passes that were not there previously because Pittsburg took the long pass away. By supporting the puck we had the outlet pass and therefore better puck control.

  2. #2 Mats Naslund says:
    May 7, 2010 at 10:15 am

    It really is a good sign Senet. I wondered whether Montreal would be able to adjust. Martin has showed in the regular season that he is slow to adjust to opposition coaches. There was one particular regular season game that sticks out in my mind where the Penguins were able to completely shut down the Canadiens from the 2nd period on due to in game adjustments. We didn’t change our methods whatsoever, and we ended up losing the game. This time is different. Yes we got opportunistic scoring, but our approach changed once Martin realized that 9 shots through 2 periods wasn’t going to get it done. Slight adjustments made in the 2nd intermission gave Montreal the edge going into the 3rd and that was the difference.

    Was there luck involved? Heck ya. But I would argue that both Pittsburgh goals had that same element in that PK and Hammrlik were both tripped and the 2nd goal went off of 2 skates before it pinballed past Jaro. You get lucky in the playoffs when you make things happen.

    Speaking of Jaro… What can you say about a guy who gives up two back-breaking goals on 2 shots in the 1st period, but has the stones to bounce back and stop the next 33 including some A1 chances down the stretch to steal the victory? Honestly I could not be more impressed with this young man. We all saw what COULD happen between the Sharks and Wings last night. A couple of bad bounces opens the flood gates and a game is lost. Thanks to Jaro – we don’t have that issue. He regrouped mentally and was lights out from 5 minutes into the first to the final horns.

  3. #3 stanley says:
    May 7, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    Sergei Kostitsyn should be in the line up. He was the Canadiens highest scoring forward during there 6 game winning streak in the regular season. When the Canadiens finished first in there division a couple of seasons ago, it was when Sergei got called up. I’m not saying to give him the credit of doing it alone, I’m just saying notice that they score more and do better with him in the line-up. Does no one remember? There was blame placed on Carbonneau for the poor development of the youngsters on the Canadiens. Stories of too much partying and not enough miltary discipline. In my opinion Sergei will go on to another team, and go on to be better than Rebeiro and will continue to party on! At least the Canadiens finally figured out Halak is better than Price, or have they?

  4. #4 stanley says:
    May 8, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    They sure could have used Sergei!!!!!!

  5. #5 Mats Naslund says:
    May 10, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    I’m as big a Sergei fan as there is, but we’re not going to see him again. Could he help? I’m positive. He was great down the stretch.. but since none of us have the opportunity to be in the dressing room, we have no idea what the problem is between him and Martin. Its not the first time this sort of thing has happened, so I’m inclined to think Sergei has earned his treatment. Its too bad because in my opinion he’s a legit 2-way forward with incredible vision. Given a full season to do what he does – along with powerplay time, I’m sure he could have been a solid contributer.. but you could say the same for Sean Avery – and there aren’t too many teams out there that want him either. I really feel if Sergei had someone reliable to keep him patient for his opportunity he would have emerged, but this is the NHL, and you don’t babysit grown men.

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