Kukla's Korner Hockey
If Montreal wins, they will play Pittsburgh in the conference semifinals.
If Washington wins, they will face Philadelphia in round 2.
update: Can’t get much closer than this so I am moving it to the top of KK so we can see if the voting will sway in one direction or will it remain tight until game time.
When moved to the top of page, there were 389 votes with 51% saying Montreal will win.
Original post time was 8:45am.
added 7:10pm, When the puck dropped, the voting was 344 Montreal, 340 Washington.
from Sean Gordon of the Globe and Mail,
So what happens in an all-the-marbles game seven between a team with an unfortunate history of blowing big occasions and another coached by a man who hasn’t won the big one at the first four times of asking?
The Washington Capitals and Montreal Canadiens are only hours away from game seven, and as they try to get some pre-game rest, they may be contemplating a pair of opposing trends.
The Caps players will be mindful of the fact they have won only one of the four game seven tilts they have played in the past three years, and that six times their club has gagged on two-game leads in a playoff series.
And the Habs will surely be aware that their coach, Jacques Martin lost all four seventh games he coached in Ottawa – against Buffalo in 1997, the Maple Leafs in 2002, the Devils in 2003 and the Leafs again in 2004.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
As good as Halak has been in the past two games, there is also the Caps’ firsthand knowledge that he can be had. They lit him up in Game 2, a 6-5 victory, and chased him in Game 3, scoring three times on four shots in the second period of a 5-1 win. So, the debate of whether Halak is in their head will be moot if he plays like he did earlier in the series.
“I bet if you ask Alex [Ovechkin], he still thinks he’s going to score a goal. He thinks he’s going to score every game. [Halak] has played great the last couple of games, there is no disputing that. But every game is a different day,” Boudreau said.
read on for reasons why each team could win tonight…
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?
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