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Round One: Game Four

  • One of the traps that people often fall into when predicting an outcome of a game, series or season is that they assume that what has happened in the recent past must continue. Before the start of this year’s season, there wasn’t a pundit around who expected that the Habs would make the playoffs, let alone win the North East Division. There were very few people who expected that PK Subban would be a finalist for the Norris Trophy. We see it every year – and its something that I tend to bring up before the start of the season when all of the silly predictions are being made about who will be good and who will be bad – only to be proven entirely wrong a month or two into the year.

    I bring this up again because I think this also occurs over the course of a playoff series (especially early). Montreal lost the first game of this series and then suited up for game 2 without Max Pacioretty, Lars Eller or Brian Gionta. The sentiment out there in the ether was that the Habs were done. Stick a fork in ‘em.

    Then they won. Not only did they win, they won convincingly. It wasn’t a rout, but the Habs were the better team, and having pumped 50 shots on net in the game prior – the pundits and commentariat declared that this was Montreal’s series to win.

    And then they lost. This time it was a rout. It got ugly. It got violent. The optics are bad. The team lost the puck battles, they lost the goalie battles and they lost the fights. They were forced to play a game that they aren’t comfortable with and now, it seems as though their number is up. Ottawa surely seems like the stronger of the two clubs, given how thoroughly they won game 3.

    Still, I can’t shake the feeling that in the playoffs you really need to forget what happened in the prior game. Game 4 has nothing to do with Game 3. What took place over the course of 3 periods has no bearing on what will happen tonight, and if you expect to see more of the same – then more times than not you will be wrong. This is no guarantee. I’m not saying that there won’t be a fight, or that there is no chance that we see a soft goal, or a defensive lapse. We’ve seen too much playoff hockey over the past few years (excluding last year of course) to expect that a series could be over simply because one team has a 2-1 lead. Montreal has overcome greater challenges than this in recent history.

    Thoughts on the Norris

    I did want to mention that PK Subban has been named a finalist for the Norris Trophy along with Kris Letang and Ryan Suter. In the end I think that PK’s goals (11) will probably give him the edge over Letang (5) – who ended up tied with Subban for regular season points.  Letang averaged more ice-time per game than Subban, though in fewer shifts per game. All of this will more than likely be moot however, as I suspect that Subban will probably lose the Norris to a more established player in Ryan Suter, who played more than 27 minutes per game and amassed 32 points. This is in no way a slam dunk, but the perception out there is that Suter’s overall game was more consistent than Subban’s over the course of the season.

    I’m torn on this issue. I love PK Subban’s game and I’m admittedly biased in how I view these two players. I honestly also think that we’re just starting to see the true talent level that PK has. The fact that he’s a candidate for Norris at 23 years old is phenomenal. Even as a huge fan, I see room to grow in his game and ultimately I think this is why many will vote for Suter. PK probably made too many headlines this season for reasons other than his play on the ice, which always has an effect with the writers who vote for these awards. Ryan Suter is a fantastic defenseman though so my point is definitely not to suggest that the award was PK’s to lose. I’d love for the Habs to be able to sign Subban long term for something less than ALL of the money.. so maybe I’m biased in that direction too.

    Go Habs Go!!

    ~Mats

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