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The Playoff Chase

  • The Habs secured another 2 crucial points with their first victory of the season over the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Habs did not make it easy on themselves letting the Penguins climb back into the game and within 1 goal 5 seperate times.

    It was an ugly win but in the grand scheme of things it is a win and 2 points and that’s all that counts. It was the Canadiens 5th game in 7 nights and after a very emotional weekend series against Toronto it was well earned.

    This was the game in hand held over the Atlanta Thrashers and the Canadiens cashed in and made it count. The Canadiens put themselves 3 points ahead of the 9th place Thrashers, tied themselves with the Devils and are within only 2 points of 6th spot. The next 4 games will be played at home against non contending teams.

    David Aebischer did not shine in nets but did get his first win as a Montreal Canadien and he will continue to settle down with time. As a 1-2 goaltending team the Canadiens are in a good spot related to other potential Eastern playoff teams.

    The Ottawa Senators could risk blowing another fantastic season relying on Ray Emery as their #1 goalie. Emery allowed 4 goals in the first period against the Flyers Saturday and the Sens were out of it from the beginning. If Dominik Hasek isn’t healthy and there is nothing indicating he will be, are you banking on the Senators chances with Ray Emery and Mike Morrison as their goalies? Never heard of Mike Morrison? Me neither.

    The Carolina Hurricanes have Martin Gerber who has played extremely well for them. Has he ever been tested under playoff pressure? What about an unlucky injury? The Canes backup goaltender? Cam Ward. Enough said.

    The Philadelphia Flyers have not had a good enough goalie to get them anywhere for years and this year will probably be no different. Antero Niittymaki came out of nowhere but is far from a proven goaltender and I am still surprised Robert Esche even has an NHL job.

    The Rangers have Henrik Lundqvist who will challenge for the Vezina this year. However Kevin Weekes ain’t anything to write home about.

    The Lightning? Of all Eastern teams their goaltending situation is by far the worse. Assuming they do make the post-season they will be hoping for John Grahame to get them deep? Sean Burke is hurt and even if he returns he can’t really be considered a big threat.

    That leaves the Devils with Martin Brodeur. The Devils are dangerous and whether they’re in 1st or 8th spot nobody wants to play against them. Martin Brodeur has the experience and talent to carry the team on his shoulders.

    So Cristobal Huet with 5 shutouts and his league leading save percentage and David Aebischer with his 2 Stanley Cup rings might be the best goaltending duo of the Eastern teams. All they have to do is get there.

    Looking at both Conferences this should be one of the best playoff chases ever. The playoffs are a new season and 1st place is as good as 8th place once you’re in. Any team that finishes 8th or better has a valid chance. There will also be several good teams that miss the playoffs by a single point or two. This is particularly true in the Western Conference where the seeds are changing dramatically with each game.

    The Mighy Ducks are in 5th place when this time last week they weren’t in the Playoffs at all. The Calgary Flames cling to 3rd spot as a Division leader but dropping a game or two and they could fall easily into 9th or lower.

    The rankings can’t be taken that seriously anymore. 1st is as good as 5th which is as good as 8th. Getting in is the hard part and there will be guaranteed playoff ‘upsets’ as always. Can they really be considered upsets with so many good teams and so few spots?

    The Habs are coming off two first round upsets of #1 and #2 seeds in the last 2 playoffs. If any team can do it, the Habs certainly proved they can.

  1. #1 Gumper says:
    March 27, 2006 at 12:07 pm

    Everything should be good to go for a 6th or 7th spot if:

    * Souray could minimize his brain farts and play equally well defensively as he does blowin’ holes through opposing goalies on the PP.

    ** Kovalev passes when he should (and looks before he does).

    *** Ryder learns to properly “one-time” a shot before the playoffs.

    **** Higgins, Begin, Murray and Bonk stay healthy and continue their outstanding play.

    ***** Huet’s talent rubs off on Abby a little more.

    ****** Ribeiro keeps his cheerleading uniform on stays off the ice until he can grow a pair.

  2. #2 theo sucks says:
    March 27, 2006 at 6:22 pm

    The first round of the playoffs for the habs will be all mental.I think with the two first round upsets the habs did that they believe they can do it again no matter who the play.I would not take the habs lightly if i were ottawa or carolina. Mental toughness is a big factor in winning and losing just ask theo.How many times over the years have the habs been in this spot.A very strange season indeed.Theo who everybody thought would be the goalie of the future TRADED, Huet just thrown in a deal to get bonk. A goalie that comes out of no where is nothing new for the habs.Who knows maybe he was god sent,and if so we could be looking at 93 all over again

  3. #3 Gumper says:
    March 27, 2006 at 7:44 pm

    In the playoffs, I’m not too sure if anybody takes anyone lightly perse, but you have a point when it comes to the Sens’ rep of choking in the playoffs. However, I have to think they’re in deep shit between the pipes going into the playoffs. Nevertheless, I hope they get totally wiped out in a first round sweep.

    “Who knows maybe he was god sent,and if so we could be looking at 93 all over again” — Remember, the Habs are still rebuilding. This is very optimistic if not unrealistic IMO. Weirder things have happened. Like George Bush getting re-elected, for example 😛

    “Theo who everybody thought would be the goalie of the future TRADED, Huet just thrown in a deal to get bonk.” — it’s about time we lucked out on a trade, instead of feeding the rest of the NHL with darkhorses.

  4. We had about 6 rookies in the line up in 1986, anything is possible. Huet must be prepared to face some rubber,
    it’s all up to him now. Let’s go Huet baby take us to the promise land once again.

  5. Hu-eeeeeet, Huet-Huet-Huet… Hu-eeet, Hu-eeet…

    I’m surprised I haven’t heard this version at the Bell Centre yet.

    Now let’s beat the Isles and take 6th. After all, I’d much rather play the Flyers or Rangers in the first round than I would Carolina (for obvious reasons).

  6. #6 kazmojo says:
    March 28, 2006 at 12:55 pm

    Re: Gumper’s post

    Yes, the Sens short history is one playoff choke after another. But that was with Patrick Lalime in net. You could count on him for at least one short-side goal from the faceoff circle or beyond each game. If Hasek gets back in time, the Sens are for real. Of course, Hasek’s health was a question mark even before the season began.

  7. #7 Dimitri says:
    March 28, 2006 at 1:25 pm

    The best outcome for montreal is to finish 6th in the eastern conference, and carolina, ottawa, philadelphia finish 1,2,3 respectively. This way, we play philadephia in the first round, ottawa in the second round, and hope carolina is eliminated by the 3rd round…

    Both ottawa and philadelphia are beatable teams because of their weak goaltending …

  8. #8 riser8 says:
    March 28, 2006 at 8:17 pm

    As well as the Habs have been playing and the more they are looking like a playoff team it gets interesting to start to wonder who their first round match up would be against. Having said that I believe its still way too early to think about possible first round opponents. If and when they clinch, and only then will I start to ponder what may best for the Habs. Lets not put the cart before the horse just yet.

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