9:37 am. I’m sitting at my keyboard, already literally feeling butterflies for tonight’s game against the Penguins. Call it a blessing or a curse, but there isn’t a thing outside of my family and friends that I care about more than this game. My own hockey career was cut short by the economic realities my family faced in the early 1990s. Even though I stopped playing competitively as a kid, I’ve always felt a certain inner peace when I lace up my skates and hit the ice – whether on a pond or in an arena. In my mind every time I put blades on my feet, I’m in Game 7 playing for the Canadiens. I’m sure most of us grew up feeling the same way about hockey et Nos Glorieux. There is a reason that I still get goosebumps when I think back to the ovation that Maurice Richard received on the night the Canadiens closed the Forum with a 4-1 win over the Dallas Stars. There isn’t a Habs fan who was alive who doesn’t remember the night Saku Koivu returned to a similar show of gratitude after battling Cancer? Fans of this team care. And while from time to time we all get wrapped up in the outside distractions that are inevitable when we’re talking La Sainte-Flanelle, it all comes down to what happens on the ice. When Michael Cammalleri scored to make Game 6 2-2, Habs fans showed again why they are the best in the universe by cheering at top level for the entire commercial break, leading Michel Lacroix to hold off on announcing Andrei Kostitsyn’s assist until play resumed. Tonight fans of our team will pack the Bell Centre again, to cheer on our Canadiens who will play Game 7 in the unfriendly confines of Mellon Arena. They will be bolstered by those of us who reside in every city on the continent – and cheer by proxy, hoping to watch our team victorious as the two teams shake hands to close the series.
If the Game 7 win over the Capitals was considered by many as the Habs biggest victory since 1993, what implications does tonight’s contest against the defending Stanley Cup Champs hold? After the year we’ve had its hard to be overly confident going into this last game of the conference semi-finals. We all saw what happened to Vancouver last night. Anything can happen tonight. This much is true: The Penguins are more talented, and more experienced when it comes to this game. But in a one-game-for-all-the-glory contest, I sure like Jaroslav Halak. I sure like the leading goal scorer of the playoff’s chances (Michael Cammalleri), especially if he fires more than 5 shots on net. I sure like PK Subban who lives for the big game, as shown by his 29+ brilliant minutes in filling in for both Markov and Gill.
I wont make a prediction, because its a coin flip as to who wins tonight’s game. The Penguins are a fantastic team led by some of the best players this league has to offer. But if there is anything that our Habs have taught us over the past month, it is that they are a resilient bunch of buggers who have earned the belief that I have in them. They have one shot at a knockout, and I can’t wait for the puck to drop. There are millions of us who feel the same.
Go Habs Go!!!!