No one, except maybe the man himself, spent two seconds thinking about what Tom Pyatt could potentially bring to the organization.
So here we are, in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Canadiens holding a 2-0 lead in the first period and the Washingotn Capitals enjoying a 75-second two-man advantage. Most of us were probably thinking if the Habs came out of it with a 2-1 lead, it should be considered a successful penalty kill.
But the Canadiens didn't even allow a shot on goal to the Capitals while down two men, and that was thanks to the incredible work of Hal Gill, Josh Gorges, Tomas Plekanec and...Pyatt. Of all people, the throw-in to the biggest deal of the summer for the Canadiens was the one entrusted to help extend their season by one more game. To help get them to tonight's Game 7 showdown.
“When I was on the bench Jacques kind of looked at me a couple of times, and it gave me a good feeling that he was going to put me out there," Pyatt told me today after the Habs morning skate. "It got me pretty excited. Those are the situations you want to be in.”
No one could have imagined he would be in a situation where he was even dressing for the Canadiens in a playoff elimination game, let alone playing such a key role. He played 14:15, nearly five minutes of it shorthanded. While a lot of the credit for Montreal's 29-for-30 penalty killing performance thus far rightly goes to Gill and Gorges, some should also be reserved for Pyatt as well.
Especially considering how far he has come in a few short months.
“Once in a while I have to ask myself if this is really happening, if I’m really playing for the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup playoffs," Pyatt said. "But in that first game when coach Martin put me out there on the penalty kill against Ovechkin and all those guys, it really kind of wakes you up. It makes you realize where you really are.”
Pyatt says he thinks that may have been the first 5-on-3 advantage he's killed off all year for the Canadiens. It was a pretty good debut.
NOTE: Again, I apologize for ignoring the blog but I've been overrun with (paid) work throughout the series. I'll be covering tonight's Game 7 for The Canadian Press, so if you check out the game story on TSN.ca tonight or any number of other Canadian sports websites, it's probably me writing it. I'm also blogging for CBC.ca, and you can see my stuff for them here.