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Playoffs come home to Montreal

  • The Bell Centre will be a rockin’ tonight as the Canadiens holding a seemingly impossible 2-0 lead against Carolina come home to the hockey mad city of Montreal looking to put the Canes in a stranglehold.

    Montreal is a buzz with playoff fever and tonight will be the most raucous environment the Habs or Canes have played in all season.

    Needless to say, a win tonight will all but guarantee the series and make a strong case for a 4-0 sweep. Only 2 teams have returned from a 3-0 deficit to win in the NHL Playoffs in over 60 years.

    What are the keys to winning?

    • Take advantage of the crowd. The atmosphere will be chaotic and taking advantage of that will be crucial. The first goal could be too much for the Canes to take. Contrarily if the Canes score and take the home fans out of it early they’ll get that much of an extra boost. The Canadiens have not trailed by more than a goal in the series and playing catchup against a Canes lead is not the style they want to play.
    • Getting to Ward/Gerber early. It’s still unknown who will start for the Canes in nets. In effort to shake things up you’d imagine that Ward will get the start. How will he react to the wildest playoff atmosphere in his first official playoff start? It’s got to be a pressure cooker for anyone much less a rookie – hammer him early and hammer him hard.
    • Defence – Sheldon Souray’s status is unknown and probably won’t play. If the Canadiens were tied or trailing he’d probably suit up but why force something while leading and expecting a long playoff run? The other D have to step up – Komisarek and Dandenault will be seeing more important ice and all have to be at their best.
    • Special Teams – Staying out of that box. Everything is being called and giving up unnecessary powerplays to the Canes is dangerous. It could just be a matter of time before they explode.
    • Goaltending – Like always Huet will have to be strong against the Canes offence. How he rebounds after a 5 goal game in Carolina will be key to the Habs winning. Nothing suggests that he won’t be his normal calm self and give a strong performance but limiting those shots and man advantages will definitely help him out.

    The Habs can really make a statement to the NHL tonight with another win and put themselves in a great position.

  1. Tonight will be a true test of greatness. That is, truely great teams, when they have their opponents down and out, they don’t let them recover. Intstead, they go at them hard, until they win.

    So let see how great the Canadiens can be.

  2. #2 Gumper says:
    April 26, 2006 at 11:17 am

    I hope Carolina is still in PANIC MODE. This will continue to leave them vulnerable to odd-man rushes and defensive errors. Particularly if they have the intention of taking the crowd out of it with a quick first goal. On the other hand, if the Habs are too keen to bury the first one and Carolina waits for a turnover,.. it can all go the other way. In other words, the ball is in their court and that’s how we should approach it. Let the Bell centre mayhem subside – then blow ’em away! Goaltending (or lack of) will be key for them to go anywhere tonight. Fortunately, they’re in a total mess in this department!

  3. Tonight I expect them to be in panic mode BUT!! The habs have to settle things down and get through the first 8 min without any goals aginst. Most important. Carolina is going to try everything in the book to steal this one…..expect a lot of 31/2 loops in their dives. That one where Williams was checked cleanly( rightly so no call from the ref) was something to behold. The guy looked like he was dead. Hell he went off the ice looking like he was gone for the night. He was back the next shift. Jeez ya think he made a visit to LORDS France with such a recovery. Above all avoid the dreaded 5 on 3. Because I believe 5 on 5 Montreal are the better team.

  4. #4 joshtm says:
    April 26, 2006 at 12:34 pm

    Hey, Montreal needs to bring in their goon, the big russian to replace Souray. Carolina needs to be knocked down in front of the net and behind. You could really see the game and momentum switch to Carolina after Souray got hurt. There is no obvious reason for the second period overtime was Souray was not there to knock down some of the bigger Carolina players.

  5. Big russian defenceman? I didn’t know we re-signed Igor Ulanov.

  6. #6 Yukon Habs Fan says:
    April 26, 2006 at 12:36 pm

    Habs Win Tonight

    If they win they will have the series, they will face Ottawa and beat them.
    NewJersey and Buffalo will tire eachother out but they can still beat them tired or not, then the Habs will
    be in the Cup Final. So scalpers i need some tickets way up here in the Yukon so i can watch them in the finals.

  7. Carolina IS second guessing themselves right now, no matter what they are their coach says. Of course they are. So, rather than weather an early storm by the Hurricanes (pun unavoidable), why not force them to weather a Habs’ storm early… just as the Habs forced them to TRY to do in Games 1 and 2.

    It’s time to show that killer instinct and go for the jugular, troops. This Carolina team can be (unofficially) eliminated from the playoffs TONIGHT. So it’s time for the Habs to bring the absolute best game they have in themselves. Which means, as Habs Blog said, disciplined play, an early offensive explosion on the Hurricanes goaltender(s) combined with a committment to defense, and a strong performance from Huet. All this, if successfully executed, should certainly do the trick.

    And hey, if things go Carolina’s way tonight, then we’ll just have to beat them in Game 4 to take the resulting momentum right back from them.

  8. In other news, Colorado and New Jersey will put their respective opponents to bed tonight. I’m not so sure, however, that Philadelphia is ready to roll over and die just yet.

  9. If the Canadiens play it safe tonight, they will lose… I agree with Joe. They need to start the game skating hard, sharp passes, and a determined look on their faces. THEY NEED TO BELIEVE THEY ARE DOWN 0-2, even though they are not. This is what killer instict is all about. BUT, at the same time, while having this killer instict, they need to make sure they do not take any stupid pelenties and they do not make any defensive mistakes.

  10. #10 nilan says:
    April 26, 2006 at 1:55 pm

    Rob Brind’amor and Mark Recchi are not going to roll over for anyone. Carolina IS in trouble. Carolina DOES have crappy goaltending. I think we are going to have to demoralize them early and then keep bringing it. Game One was awesome because at no time did Montreal try to sit on the lead.
    Maybe Oleg Petrov…oh…not a defenseman…

  11. #11 joey says:
    April 26, 2006 at 2:17 pm

    Usually when a team is down 0-2 in a playoff series, and this team is better than it’s opponent, it is actually an advantage. Why? Because the team starts to focus, and play desperation hockey while its opponent starts to slack off abit. This usually creates enough momentum for a 4 game sweep by the team which is down 0-2.

    However, in the case of Carolina, I don’t see any desperation in their voice. They seem to say hey we will win, but they don;t really have any determined look. Maybe I am wrong, but this is the impression I get. So I don;t see them being able to mount a comeback… Unless of course the Canadiens have a total breakdown, and give them the games. Moreover, in the case of the Canadiens, they are not getting over confident. So I cannot see them changing their game plan. And they have been playing well….

    2 years ago, against Boston, when the Canadiens were down 1-3, you can see that a comeback was possible. Boston was playing shit, and Canadiens were playing well. But in this series, unless somehting dramaticly changes tonight, I don’t see a comaback happening…

  12. Souray to play tonight.

  13. Souray got hit in the balls with a frozen puck!

    Glad to see he’s recovered so soon.

  14. #14 John says:
    April 26, 2006 at 5:39 pm

    It’s interesting to read all the press articles making excuses for the Hurricanes and repeating the same old regular season record refrain. The fact is that the Habs have been the better team through 2 games, period. The only life shown by the Hurricanes was during the Habs penalty-troubles during the middle of the second game — the fluke goals were just that — but the media reported their ‘miraculous’ comeback… easier when it’s 5 on 3, ain’t it? Perhaps it’s good: keep the Habs motivated and the Hurricanes deceived by their arrogance (are they still the favorites, I ask?)!

    Bob Gainey brought the team to it’s highest level of play in time for the playoffs — often such plans don’t work, this time it did. Where’s the credit from the pundits?

    The Habs still have a way to go and we all know that Carolina is capable of coming back. Tonight is a huge game; I’m very happy Souray will play.

  15. “On the injury front, Montreal winger Steve Begin skated for the first time today since sustaining a knee injury during a game on April 8th against New Jersey. There is no timetable for Begin’s return but the gritty winger is considered ahead of schedule at this stage.” — Globe and Mail

  16. #16 joshtm says:
    April 26, 2006 at 7:28 pm

    The big Russian I am talking about is Raitis Ivanans, actually he is Latvian, but I guess we forget they are no longer Russians. It seems CBC is busy cheering on Carolina again, which is a big downer considering it is called CBC you would think they would support the habs at the least. I guess it is a case of the Toronto CBC Hockey Night In Canada having a case of sour grapes, or at least owning to the fact that they are biased towards Quebec!

  17. #17 Asif says:
    April 26, 2006 at 9:47 pm

    Overtime has me on pins and needles. I really hope Koivu gets back for game 4. Wish we had him in OT tonight.

  18. Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. That’s all I have to say.

  19. OK, I apologise for venting on your blog, Habs Blog, but I’ve got no place else to go!!! Just kidding.

    First, I don’t care what Carolina did in the regular season, they are little more than a bunch of nobodies in the post-season. They had absolutely no business winning this game. None. Other than Ward, who was outstanding tonight, their entire team was defeated.

    Secondly, Huet… what can I say? That’s two soft goals of the Patrick Lalime variety. Not a good sign. Give your head a shake – you’re better than that.

    Thirdly, as much as I pump myself up for this time of year, I have grown to hate the National Hockey League and its officiating. It is an absolute joke. I am tired of officials deciding the outcomes of games, especially important ones. Koivu gets a stick in the eye and nothing??? NOTHING??? But then you come back and assess a double minor to the Habs, late in the game, for… a high stick???? You’ve got to be f**king kidding me. And then, then, a almost immediate penalty in overtime for the Canes? Bullshit.

    Lastly, you CANNOT sit on a 1 – 0 lead for an entire period. All it takes is a goofy bounce or a good shot and you’re tied. In tonight’s case, it was a lame goal. Wham! And you’re tied. And overtime. And the ref wants to add insult to injury.

  20. #20 Gumper says:
    April 26, 2006 at 10:58 pm

    Well, the ladies got what they wanted tonight — a penalty at an opportune time. Then we get burned by another Macguire stick explosion! It was effecively a five on three. Don’t worry, Carolina WILL lose this series one way or another.

  21. #21 theo sucks says:
    April 26, 2006 at 10:58 pm

    Wow joe i couldnt say it better myself.Great post.Iam so pissed at this game, we out classed these bums and thats all they are is bums. games cannot be called like this.This game was a big black eye on the n.h.l officals and the league.The funny thing is that they didnt call the high stick on koivu and the ref was standing right there but the ref called a cross check penalty from half way down the ice on dandenault.Come on betman step up to the plate and do something

  22. #23 joshtm says:
    April 26, 2006 at 11:29 pm

    Disappointed with the CBC covereage for sure. I thought the C in CBC stood for Canadian, not Carolina. Oh well I guess like Harper CBC has bad case of Americanitis….talk about body language. Cherry and sidekick definitely are not there, I mean you can tell they hate covering Montreal. If it was Tie Domi getting hurt the entire CBC Hockey Night in Canada would have a nervous breakdown. I thought the officiating sucked. Otherwise if it was not for Ward Carolina would have lost big time for sure, but hey Huet was great too, CBC it seems did not notice that either. It is obvious some of the Habs are playing hurt, they are not hitting like before. But something must be done about the CBC coverage. Am I the only one who notices the obvious uncomfort CBC has in covering the Habs?

  23. As I said before the game, the media coverage stinks. But that doesn’t change the result … anyway, those with RDS can always catch the excellent French coverage. Those guys are fantastic and always call it as it is.

    As for the refs. I can’t believe it, the stick to Saku was very close to intentional. If it wasn’t, the guy (was it Williams) should have had control of his stick. As soon as the refs see blood, they MUST call a penalty… he must have seen the high stick!!!! What in tarnation is going on????

    The Habs come back in game 3, probably without Koivu, but with a lot to play for!!!

  24. Sorry, game 4 that is.

  25. I hope the Habs were watching Colorado put Dallas to sleep tonight. The Stars were given NO chance in OT. Absolutely none. They came out flying and attacked relentlessly until it went in. Over.

    This is what the Habs nned more of – killer instinct. No more of that sitting on a slim lead, trying to protect it for a period. I don’t care how good Ward was tonight – if you keep attacking him, he’ll let one or two more in.

  26. What more can be said about the Refs. Maybe they missed it 4 guys on the ice and no call but oh they call another high sticking with 5 min left against the Habs. As far as I am concerned the “NEW” NHL stinks!!!I watch RDS(made it part of my cable package) period…I REFUSE to watch CBC and TSN.Hell enough of anti Montreal comments to turn a dogs stomach.

  27. #28 Asif says:
    April 27, 2006 at 9:57 am … write to NHL officials here to vent your frustrations of last night’s outcome.

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