The Canadiens face the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Bell Center in Montreal tonight… and might I take this time to welcome Sidney and his crew to the most intense hockey crowd in the world.
Here’s a few reasons why I think the Canadiens deserve a little credit and why they can win.
Besides the fact that shutting down the Capitals offense for 3 consecutive games and taking them in 7 games surely wasn’t any luck or bad luck. This time of year is about “want”, “desire”, “hunger”…. you better believe it.
Don’t count anyone out until they’re out.
1 – Jaroslav Halak
I don’t really need to say much here. He’s been great in these playoffs and maybe that in itself is an understatement.
One question that I’ve heard some people say is “how long can he keep it up?“… that question came up a couple of games into the Washington series and to some extent hasn’t went away. It’s not really a fluke that he’s playing well. At least I don’t think it is. For us Habs fans who watch every (or just about) game then you’ve seen this guy play some great goaltending prior to the playoffs.
He’s had nothing handed to him since coming to North America and has earned every bit of his ice time. I’d say he’s a pretty confident guy in what he does… he’s won my confidence…. I’d also suggest his teammates are quite confident in him too…
2. Hal Gill and Josh Gorges
Hal Gill and Josh Gorges have been superb during these playoffs. For a team that was generally really bad at 5 on 5 hockey during the season, all of a sudden the team is playing some pretty good defense.
Yes, there are alot of shots on goal. But many of them are taken from the outside and the Gorges – Gill pairing have done a fabulous job on the penalty kills. When it comes to the playoffs I’m not sure there’s any luck involved. There’s a strategy, a game plan… guys have their jobs…. and try to do it.
Gill and Gorges do many simple things well. They also show some patience instead of panic. Nice simple plays off the boards to clear a puck…. bumping a guy off the puck (you don’t have to decapitate people)…. sticks and bodies clogging passing and shooting lanes.
3. The big guys
While I’m sure many “experts” in the hockey world from parents to coaches to (fill in the blank) may have thought or even told these guys that they’re too small to succeed as pro hockey players they’ve always defied the odds. Luckily they’ve never believed that they’re too small…. which is something that many “experts” were saying when these guys were signed. I think some people questioned these guys because they wouldn’t be effective in the playoffs.
Ever see Brian Gionta go in the corners? Against guys 7 inches (and more) taller then him? Yeah, he gets banged around. But he comes out with the puck his fair share of the time. And won’t back down. The crazy bugger even goes in front of the net and scores goals!! Imagine!!
And so does Mike Cammalleri!!
Seriously, Gionta’s got great hands, a great shot… and Mike Cammalleri is an artist with the puck. Yeah I know, we had another guy here a little while ago that they called the artist and in all fairness I enjoyed his time with the Habs. But Cammalleri’s got heart. He WANTS to win. You can tell.
That “want” to win and work ethic coupled with a magnificent shot…. makes Cammalleri a player you want to have playing on your team.
Maybe these 2 guys should be given a little more credit by the “experts”. Although in fairness to the experts, they often do acknowledge their skill and hockey IQ.
4. PK Subban
He’s thrown in the fire and looks like he belongs. He skates, handles the puck, shoots, hits….. and gets “mini Bobby Orr” comparisons already.
Youthful enthusiasm and energy coupled with skill can certainly help energize a team.
On several occasions PK has made the right pass or made a little stutter step to back off a defender. Subban is showing that he’s got a ton of hockey smarts to go along with all that raw skill.
All those simple plays (like the stutter step) show patience, poise and give the Habs offensive chances as well as defensive stops. The last thing you want is your guys to panic out there… that’s where you have turn overs. Subban looks at home in the firestorm.
Welcome PK. The crowd is already chanting your name buddy!
5. A few sayings that you hear this time of year
– Good teams find a way to win
– Defense wins championships
– Don’t underestimate the heart of a champion
(We’ve got a crew of guys who’ve won or come very close before)
Habs have a shot at winning tonight! Better believe it!
Go Habs Go!