Thursday, April 29, 2010

On the road again

WASHINGTON - I hear Montreal was quite the scene last night, and why not?


While the Canadiens 2-1 win in Game 7 last night is probably not as big of a shock as everyone is making it out to be, it's still a pretty stunning development for a team that is still finding itself, still learning about each other, still working out some kinks.


Still becoming a team.


But even a work in progress was enough to beat the Capitals, because the Canadiens formed a more committed, more determined collective than the seemingly random grouping of individual talents here in Washington.


Hal Gill, perhaps the runner-up in the series MVP balotting (I don't think I need to mention who would win that award, if it existed), put it best in a very subdued, very business-like Canadiens dressing room last night.



“We knew if we just played our system, we had better team play than them," Gill said. "I think that’s what got it for us.”

But now, the challenge is a far different one. The Penguins have very strong team play, as opposed to their rivals from Washington. So the big challenge will be for Jacques Martin and his coaching staff to come up with a new plan for this new opponent, one that I feel will be a far tougher out than the Caps.

Speaking of Martin, I was hard on him after Montreal's loss in Game 4, and I think it was deserved at the time. But as I wrote in my column for CBC.ca last night, Martin deserves a boat load of credit for making adjustments to both his game plan and bench management mid-stream, something I and many others thought he was incapable of.

But really, the most pressure still falls on the slender shoulders of Jaroslav Halak, who was the obvious focus of my story for The Canadian Press last night. He shouldn't need to be quite as spectacular as he was in the final three games against Washington, but he'll have to be pretty close to it for the Habs to have a chance to knock off the defending Cup champs from Pittsburgh.

That is where I'm heading today, and I'm looking forward to a few days in the steel city. I didn't pack enough clothes for the extended trip, but the way this team is coming together at the right time, I should have known better.

See you in Pittsburgh, and congrats to my fellow Montrealers for resisting the urge to loot and pillage.

34 comments:

Anvilcloud said...

It's good to follow your posts -- here, there and everywhere.

Anonymous said...

Not as big of a shock as everyone is making it up to be???? Careful now, hubris is dangerous...

Yes, the media and the commentators on certain Habs blog gave way too much grief to JM. I stood by him, I think alone, defending him and his system and even his style of displaying (or not displaying) his emotions.

Kudos to our downtown fans too for not breaking our town down.

Sliver24 said...

@ Anon: I'm sure you called the Habs in 7 for this series. Heck, I have no doubt you picked Moore to score the winning goal before the playoffs started. It's kinda tough to follow your awesome analysis from day to day, series to series because you don't sign your posts.

@ Arp: The reason everyone's making such a big deal about the win is because of the 3-1 deficit they were facing. I think if they had come out of game-4 tied 2-2 and then gone on to win in seven it wouldn't have been as shocking.

In any event, I did say to anyone who'd listen as the season was drawing to a close that I'd WAY rather play Washington in the first round than Pittsburgh, despite the 20-point disparity between the two in the standings.

While I hope the Habs can build on this victory and take some momentum into the Pens series, I fear they'll soon find that the push-back will be much stiffer from the defending champs than it was from the prima donna Caps.

Anonymous said...

@Silver24: you must have me confused with another anon. I don't give any day to day analysis, I rarely leave comments here...please explain.

Sliver24 said...

@ Anon: That's my point. There are a bunch of anonymous posters and you seemed to be referring to past comments you posted in support of Jacques Martin and his system.

To me it's pretty incongruous to post an "I told you so" message when nobody knows who the 'I' is.

Don't get me wrong, the more posts the better (especially in light of the - 'ahem' - reduced traffic on the part of our gracious host/blogger), so keep 'em coming. I just prefer to know who I'm hearing from, that's all.

Anonymous said...

@silver24: well it seems that you seem to know who the "I told you so" came from...so it's not so incongruous, is it?

I really don't like the way JM got whipped. He took a lot of crap all year. When the times are good we forget about him; when the times are bad we pounce on him. I think an honorable mention of his bringing us this far is worth mentioning. Of course it wasn't all him, it was a huge team FINALLY coming together (players and management).

Signed,
HabGirl (is that good enough?)

Sliver24 said...

@HabsGirl: The thing that I feel most about your pal JM is surprise. Specifically what surprises me about him is how little an opinion I have about him one way or the other.

The word I'd use to describe him is inoffensive. That or boring. He's just sort of there, filling the role without distinguishing himself at all.

There are decisions he makes that bewilder me. His choice to suddenly use Bergeron with Markov at the most important point in the season is a great example of that. I was at the Leafs game when he pulled that rabbit out of his hat, and it scared the hell out of me all night.

I would have also liked to see him call a timeout near the end of the game last night. I didn't think it was necessary right after the Caps' goal, but the Habs were being slaughtered on the shift that immediately followed that goal and they almost tied it up several times.

Halak finally managed to end the madness by freezing the puck and I was BEGGING for Martin to call a timeout in an attempt to shift the momentum and quiet the crowd at least a little.

Unfortunately he didn't do so and the next shift resulted in more running around in our own end and ultimately O'Byrne's penalty. In the end the Habs managed to hold on but to me it was still a mistake on JM's part. It's just one nobody's ever going to talk about

In any event, I wasn't one of the ones bashing him before but I'm inclined to give him as little credit for the winning now as I did blame for the losing then.

Anonymous said...

This is outright sacrilegious, Silver24! Never cut your team down like that when they came from the abyss as they did. Had JM done any of the things you though necessary last night, we might be having a completely different conversation.

We won. Yet, some Habs fans still find reason to complain. Unbelievable.

Jaw hanging open,
HabsGirl

Sliver24 said...

Easy there Tigress.

If I drive through a red light at rush hour without looking, the fact that I don't get flattened by an 18-wheeler does NOT mean the decision to do so was a good one.

And what I was doing is called thinking and/or analyzing, not complaining.

To me, the fact that "some Habs fans" only bother to reflect on the game when the result is a loss is, while not sacrilegious, probably a little heavy in the blind-faith department.

Tyg said...

Just checking in to eat my fair share of crow about JM and his coaching system. I'm truly delighted and thrilled to be wrong. He coached on the fly, and made on ice decisions that proved he can, in fact, coach this team.

Mind you, this does not erase all my doubts about him, and I'm never going to be a big fan, but he has more knowledge and ability than I gave him credit for. Here's to hoping he continues to prove me wrong in the series vs. the Pens.

Anonymous said...

Alright... so on the last day of the season, when the Habs were waiting to see who they would play in the playoffs (on Arpon's post on April 10), I wrote:

"Personally, Washington doesnt scare me as much as the Devils or Sabres...Regardless, I predict Washington will not make it out of the east"

To which one anonymous blogger responded with:


"Say what? Habs haven't even won a 2nd round series in 17 years against any and every kind of team.

I'll bet you thought Habs did great finishing 1st in east 2 years ago with about 20 "fewer" points than this excellent Washington team. Yeah right, it's just a fluke Washington has won 2/3 of their games and Habs have won less than half of theirs. That's the kind of team a sub-.500 team wants to play in the playoffs. And to think, once Montreal Canadiens fans were the most intelligent ones in hockey".

To you I say... BITE ME.

- CS

Anonymous said...

just an fyi - my understanding is that he didn't call a TO because the Caps had used theirs, their elite 5 were gassed, and he didn't want to give them a breather...
i may have that all wrong however as i was pumping adrenaline at an alarming rate during the 3rd period.
Go Habs!
ABC

Anonymous said...

I called Habs to lose in 4 straight and I would have been right if they didn't win those 4 games!

As for this season's MTL/PIT meetings - 3 of them early in year when half the habs were out and the 4th the habs win was when penguins had injuries. more telling is late in the year as pens fought devils for the division title the penguins lost all 6 meetings with nj, as well as losing all 4 meetings with washington 3 of those losses to caps down the stretch. pens just like capitals ALSO each allowed more goals against for 82 games than montreal did.

but

I hope everyone realizes that if les Canadiens eliminate Crosby and his Penguins, then eventually get to the finals AND Vancouver knocks off Bettman's favorite West team Chicago and they too end up in the Stanley Cup finals, this will cause Bettman to disband all 6 "remaining" NHL teams this summer!

Tyg said...

I posted somewhere that I thought the Pens in 6, but honestly I may have to reconsider. I was basing it on this season's numbers. Washington, I felt, Montreal could hold their own with based on a 2-1-1, and while there it is important to consider that the Habs dropped 3 games to the tuxedoed birdies this past season, the Pens really only saw half the Habs roster during most of those matchups. Once Markov came back in Feb to reanchor the D, we actually won one. Now we've got the full team, and they are - finally - becoming a team, as our gracious host has noted. This may prove more of a challenge for our feathered foe than most pundits (the same ones who said Caps in 5) are predicting.

My predictions? I predict this series will be much much worse on the nerves of Habs fans everywhere than the Caps series was.

jkr said...

Off topic a bit but I wanted to post congrats to Arpon.

I was on Yahoo tonight reading your Hal Gill article & see that you got a byline. Nice o be recognized for your efforts. Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

As I said, after my astute prediction of a sweep by Washington which was the correct prediction only didn't happen because of those Habs wins. I am picking Penguins to win this series in at most 4 games. As Pguins were the 2nd worst matchup for the Habs , second only to the Capitals.

Anonymous said...

Bob Gainey wants to retract his resignation.

Anonymous said...

An interesting note - Jaroslav Halak made 18 saves in winning his 3rd straight start in a 5-3 win over Pittsburgh in February just before the Olympic break. The only meeting of the teams since January 1, 2010.

DSL said...

Good picks "anonymous" lol - refer back to Sliver's original post.

Anonymous said...

good video of gill and pittsburgh perspective


http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_678897.html

Anonymous said...

4 power play goals! a game that should have been played saturday as BOTH boston and philly series were completed before final game of montreal series - nudge nudge wink wink the new yahk city dwarf bettman would have started washington's next game on SUNDAY had they won.


so crosby's team gets a tired out opponent with no rest and the refs on their side. and to boot he AGAIN uses chris lee the biggest anti-montreal ref to do the game.


this sport is not on the level with that 4 foot pygmie ruining it!

Anonymous said...

2008 Conference playoffs
Quarter-finals
Apr 22 Philadelphia 3 at Washington 2 OT
Philadelphia Flyers win series 4-3

Semi-finals
#1 Montreal Canadiens vs. #6 Philadelphia Flyers
Apr 24 Philadelphia 3 at Montreal 4 OT


Just 2 years ago

Philadelphia after beating Washington in a tough ROAD game 7 was forced to fly to Montreal and play the Canadiens who had more time 2 days after the game 7 series clincher. Montreal won that home game. Philly swept the next 4 games of the series.

Anonymous said...

NY POST

Stanley Cup home-ice "advantage" remains more notion than fact. 7 of 8, 1st Round clinchers were won by the visitors. Round 1 home teams went 22-27.

pfhabs said...

@Silver24:

-interesting dialogue with HabsGirl...always have the ability to make me laugh

BTW CH NATION: what would you all say if you were told that the in series adjustments and the bench management schemes were all the ideas of Kirk Muller and JM was still the boring 1 trick pony he has been for years...that's correct Kirk is work Muller brought the Moen change to Jacques and shortening the bench on D and the forwards was all brought to the table by KM a true Montreal Canadien

-they won and thats what counts but lets give the credit to the correct coach...Perry Pearn and Jacques Martin are still just installers of systems and lifeless pylons behind the bench. watching Kirk interacting with the players is refreshing in comparison to the other two dolts

Paul said...

BTW CH NATION: what would you all say if you were told that the in series adjustments and the bench management schemes were all the ideas of Kirk Muller and JM was still the boring 1 trick pony he has been for years...that's correct Kirk is work Muller brought the Moen change to Jacques and shortening the bench on D and the forwards was all brought to the table by KM a true Montreal Canadien

While I don't necessarily disbelieve the above, a source would be nice.

Anonymous said...

Apr 26 Buffalo 3 at Boston 4
Boston Bruins win series 4-2

Apr 22 Philadelphia 3 at New Jersey 0
Philadelphia Flyers win series 4-1

Boston had 4 and a half days to rest, Flyers had 8 and a half days between their final game and today's May 1st first game of the next series.

--

Apr 24 Pittsburgh 4 at Ottawa 3 OT
Pittsburgh Penguins win series 4-2

Apr 28 Montreal 2 at Washington 1
Montreal Canadiens win series 4-3

Pittsburgh had 5 and a half days to rest, Montreal had 1 and a half days between their final game and yesterday April 30th first game of the next series.

There is no way Habs should have been forced to play their game BEFORE the Boston/Philadelphia game was played unless they were purposely placed in this unfair
situation by Bettman.

pfhabs said...

@Paul:

-you are right to ask as we all know there are no lies nor liars on the internet :)

-mentioned on Team 990 yesterday by show host Melnick

-the changes were so out of character for Pearn & Martin it was if they got religion all of a sudden...well not their ideas but got to give JM credit for listening and using them

-would have been nice if he gave credit to KM directly but in an interview JM mentioned the "staff" came up with the changes...guess its the best he can do...KM literally saves his ass and the best he can do is mention the "staff"

-hope that helps

pfhabs said...

@anon:

-you should work for Olie Stone...Bettman conspiracy talk is a joke...NBC wants them on the tube tomorrow at 2 p.m...so blame NBC if you like

-perhaps you are too young to remember 2 games in 2 nights or other arrangements in days gone by

-if Habs would have swept the Caps they would have had they rest you think they needed...guess you can also blame them :)

Anonymous said...

pfhabs said...
1-you should work for Olie Stone...Bettman conspiracy talk is a joke...NBC wants them on the tube tomorrow at 2 p.m...so blame NBC if you like

2-perhaps you are too young to remember 2 games in 2 nights or other arrangements in days gone by

3-if Habs would have swept the Caps they would have had they rest you think they needed...guess you can also blame them :)


1- nbc could have put the mtl/pit game on saturday afternoon and bos/phi would be played on fri. or thurs - even mike emrick noted yest on nbc how each team yest had many days of rest as i did say above. nbc could have also started the habs/pit series on sunday!!!!!

2- a different time BUT in those day even 4 games in 5 days- EACH team played the day before. here we are talking of a rested team and one who just played -COMPLETELY LUDICROUS analogy by you!

3- that is not the point. i repeat the otrher series were long ended there was NO reason in the world for the montreal and the detroit series to start before those other series started putting both montreal and detroit at a serious disadvantage.


btw- this crosby and nbc is only a problem because this dwarf from new yahk city bettman pushed and sold them and nhl owners that crosby and malkin will save the nhl and get them new fans - ABSOLUTE PILE OF CRAP. in fact crosby and ovechkin are hated in every other nhl city by the fans of those teams. this sport was around before crosby and ovechkin and will be around long after they leave. and nbc ratings stink for nhl hockey, and versus even worse and it was the nyc midget bettman who took nhl off espn where it was watched for many years.

keep drinking the bettman coolaid out of a small glass of course.

btw- where's the jets, the nords? why no team ever moves to canada and its BETTER economy and MUCHO MORE NUMBER of hockey fans.

i see you didnt fall off the turnip truck yet!

Anonymous said...

and last night after 2nd period of van/chi game - glenn healey TOO on cbc last night said the same about the habs being screwed by what bettman did to them making them play a day and a half later despite all the other teams being rested as their series finished earlier.

pfhabs said...

@anon

-get a life...the sched is what it is...deal with it...the team has

Anonymous said...

@pfhabs

TELL IT TO EMRICK, TO HEALEY mistere air for brains - twas them getting paid on national tv who said it.

--

yes youre right about ovechkin airhead too, after you and everyone agreed ovechkin by his performance against habs is totally useless!


but wakey wakey - his performance at least for just these 2 games is FAR SUPERIOR TO THE PATHETIC EFFORT OF THE PERFECT ONE CROSBY!


what shall you think? the canadian media says crosby is god! he can never be criticized! and airheads like you swasllow their garbage.

cbc doing habs game with an announcer who worships crosby but thatr is the politically correct way to think even though the canadiens are the only canadian team in this series. different for chi/van where cbc announcers are biased outright towards vancouver.

but a brainless thing like you wouldnt understand this.

DSL said...

^^ this anon is NYG24 is disguise

pfhabs said...

Arpon:

-you really should consider banning the slime that sometimes oozes out from under rocks or at least out from mommy's basement