Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Mike Boone at Habs Inside/Out,
On paper, this team was never a serious contender for a 25th Stanley Cup.
But on the ice, the guys wearing blue-blanc-rouge this season gave everything they had to give.
But no floaters.
A year ago in Boston, Milan Lucic and his teammates were laughing at the dispirited, rag-tag group of losers the Bruins were punching out in four games.
Think any of the Washington Capitals are laughing?
from Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette,
The Canadiens have the Washington Capitals exactly where they want them.
The two teams meet tonight in the deciding game of their best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal series, and the first six games have offered proof that the playoffs represent a new season.
The Capitals dominated the regular season, winning the Presidents’ Trophy for the best record in the National Hockey League. But the Caps have blown a 3-1 lead in this series, and the momentum is with the Canadiens. Here are some reasons why the Canadiens have to be considered the favourites to win tonight:
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
The Washington Capitals finished 33 points ahead of the Canadiens in the regular-season standings, meaning that if Montreal knocks them off in the deciding game of their best-of-seven playoff series Wednesday night, it will go down in history as one of the greatest upsets of all time.
The anatomy of a possible upset always intrigues me. My first year as a hockey writer, I had a chance to witness one of the most shocking of all time. It involved Montreal, but the shoe was on the other foot this time. It was the spring of 1981, in the 21-team NHL and the days of the balanced schedule, when the playoff format made no distinction about conferences or geography. Hence, Montreal - with the third best record overall and 103 regular-season points - drew the 14th-seeded Edmonton Oilers, fourth-place finishers in the Smythe Division with 74 points.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
And so, a season of records and excellence and unparalleled expectations now comes down to a one-game, winner-take-all exercise in living up to the hype.
Even now, having watched the Caps’ 4-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens in Monday’s Game 6 with our own eyes, it is hard to fathom it has come to this.
The most dynamic team in years, a team that pretty much lapped the field offensively during the regular season and looked ready to take a step toward greatness, is now reduced to hoping it has 60 minutes of hockey in it that will avert months of questions and self-loathing.
from Mike Wise of the Washington Post,
So, this building of guttural roars is up two goals to nil early, and it’s rocking—I mean, just b-b-b-booming inside the Bell Centre, louder than fury unleashed in Washington. Louder, according to the arena’s decibel meter, than any moment in its 14-year history after the second goal.
The white towels begin pirouetting above the throaty throng, and all of Quebec is relying on one man to again stone the most explosive offense in the NHL and keep the season alive for at least one more game.
Jaroslav Halak looks up at the time, clicks his goalie stick against the metal piping, bends his knees, digs in and does the impossible: He takes away the Capitals’ mojo, seizes every puck that could have ended the series.
It’s a frightening window into this suddenly-even Eastern Conference quarterfinal series:
from Dan Rosen of NHL.com,
Ovechkin gave all the credit to Halak during his postgame press conference. Here is the transcript:
Q: Was that all Halak in that game or did you guys misfire?
Ovechkin: Well, there’s nothing to say. You can see how we play. I think we played great and we just didn’t score. It’s only one guy. They just score goals and go back and leave all the pressure for their goalie. We have to find a way to score goals.
Q: Is this the best performance you have seen from a goalie so far in the playoffs during your career?
Ovechkin: Well, every year we make a goalie feel unbelievable. We played against Philly and (Martin) Biron was good. (Henrik) Lundqvist was good last year and this year we just make Halak feel good. It’s always about this team and we’ll find a way to break it and win it. So, no panic, nothing. It’s just a game.
from Roy MacGregor of the Globe and Mail,
Disrespectful,” complained the Washington Capitals.
The Capitals’ media relations department was referring to a rather childish act outside the Bell Centre – the burning, stomping and cigarette butting of an Alexander Ovechkin jersey prior to Game 6 – but they could just as well have said it about what was going on inside the rink.
Not the gratuitous “O-vie sucks! O-vie sucks!” chants that rippled periodically along the stands, but the reality of what was being witnessed here by 21,273 and millions more on television.
Montreal 4, Washington 1.
Really, though, what on earth was the team with the most wins in the regular season, a team that took the Eastern Conference by a remarkable 18 points, doing losing, again, to a team that surely went through more convulsions in a single season than any NHL club in history?
from Jack Todd at the Montreal Gazette, .
..After the goal Price, slowly, deliberately, and with malice aforethought, fished the puck out of the net and fired it directly at the celebrating Washington players, thumping one of them on the butt.
“You have to let them know you’re there,” Price said after, in one of the more amazing utterances to come from his mouth. As Gazette sports editor Stu Cowan, who was sitting beside me at the time, wrote later on his blog, “if you want to let ‘em know you’re there, stop the damn puck!”
Now Price wasn’t going to do any damage shooting a puck at a player with a goal stick. But the thought was there. Actually, “thought” is being way too generous. For the umpteenth time in Baby Huey’s short NHL career, the alleged future pillar of this franchise had chosen to act like a spoiled, immature brat. Nor was he through.
from Corey Masisak of CSN Washington,
A visibly upset Boudreau had some stern words during his post-game press conference following an uninspired 2-1 loss Friday night to the Montreal Canadiens at Verizon Center.
“We’re not getting 20 guys playing,” Boudreau said. “We’re getting 13 and 14 guys every night rather than everybody coming to play. Tonight we had five or six passengers again.”
When asked if he would consider making changes to his lineup, Boudreau responded, “I will think very deeply about that for the next two days.”
So who were the guys Boudreau designated as passengers for this defeat? It starts with Alexander Semin and Tomas Fleischmann, who have started on the second line together in four of these five contests.
“If you squeeze the bottle, your hand is going to shake.”
-Jaroslav Halak of the Montreal Canadiens
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org