SportsNation Blog Archives Montreal Canadiens
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The Montreal Canadiens just did something unprecedented in the history of the modern NHL playoffs (all right, so that only goes back to when the current format was adopted in 1994). The last team to make the playoffs this season, Les Habitants made an amazing run through the defending Stanley Cup champions and the current holders of the Presidents Trophy, not to mention perhaps the three best players in the sport in Alex Ovechkin, Sideny Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, en route to the Eastern Conference finals. Even Penguins fans could offer only praise.
It's a feat to last a lifetime. ... Or 48 hours, depending on what the Philadelphia Flyers do in Boston when the pucks drops Friday in Game 7 against the Bruins. As stunning as the Canadiens run is, would it be more surprising than the Flyers completing a comeback from a 3-0 deficit against the Bruins?
Gerry (San Francisco, CA)
Pierre, how great will it be for the NHL to have a Boston vs Montreal Eastern Conference Final, considering the rivalry they have?
The NHL could not have drawn up a better situation -- and for once, that's not a backhanded slap at Gary Bettman's penchant for shooting his league in the foot (like, say, overlapping the Bruins and Flyers in Game 6 with Game 7 in Pittsburgh).
The Penguins and Canadiens will have the sporting stage almost completely to themselves when they take the ice for Game 7 in Pittsburgh. No NBA playoff games. An MLB slate loaded with both afternoon starts and late games on the West Coast. No impending Thursday tee times for Tiger Woods. If you're looking for sports Wednesday night -- and don't have Phil Hughes or David Price in fantasy baseball -- you're watching hockey.
But what's the best outcome for the sport? Does the NHL need Sidney Crosby to draw in casual fans for the next two rounds, or is a Cinderella -- especially one from the sport's heartland -- always the best way to create rooting interest?
Mark (New York)
What are your thoughts on Crosby's play this series? He has 1 goal and 4 assists (Ovie had 5 goals and 5 assists against the Habs) and seems to be reverting extremely to his whining and unsportsmanlike conduct. It seems whenever he is on the ice, Crosby is either yapping at the refs or taking a cheap shot at a Hab (like his cheap shots against Subban and Plekanec in the third last night).
As always, Sidney has been the focal point of the opposition. He competes hard every night and contributes in other areas. The Canadiens have to expend energy on him all over. He has shown some signs of frustration this series. That's really to his detriment, because the just feeds into Montreal's psyche. He'd be better served to keep that frustration under his hat. It's a physical, hard game and he wants to win. It just bubbles over. As for Alex, he did everything he could do. He is a different type of player. I just think that in some cases all of these guys try to do too much sometimes. That's when they get into trouble. We have a Game 7 coming up, so we'll see if Sidney can add Wednesday night. Full transcript
Mark (New York)
The Pens seemed to have been willing to scrap the excessive shooting on Halak to instead screen him much more effectively and try to get the puck in from the cycle or out farther from the crease. Is this the same type of adjustment Washington should have made after continually peppering Halak with no success?
Jason; In hindsight I'm sure Bruce Boudreau et al wish they'd tried something different but they seemed incapable of getting out of their habit of blasting away. In Game 1 of this series, for instance, the Penguins gave up shots and patiently waited for lanes to open up. It's not easy and the Habs have been great about not giving those lanes. As for working the puck low and trying to get Halak going side to side or jamming the front of the net, I think that's the key to success for the Pens, something the Caps didn't do much of especially later in that series. Full transcript