Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette,
There will be a savage hockey hangover in Montreal on Wednesday, and anywhere the Canadiens are cheered, a pounding in the temples and an emptiness in the heart.
There will be other emotions, too, covering pretty much the full spectrum.
This is how it is when the Habs’ playoff journey hits a screeching halt, as it did Tuesday in Amalie Arena.
The Tampa Bay Lightning was full value for its 4-1 victory, eliminating the Canadiens with a dominant effort in Game 6 of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal.
Now, 94 games after it began, the Habs are done. They have been knocked out by the clinical performance of the Bolts, who advance to the Eastern final to face the winner of Wednesday’s Rangers-Capitals sudden-death match.
“Um … disappointed. That’s about it,” Canadiens goaltender Carey Price said in the first blush of elimination.
from Mike Boone of Hockey Inside/Out,
One end-of-season request:
Can we stop with the crazy Mike Babcock madness, svp?
Michel Therrien has three years left on his contract.
He coached the Canadiens to the second-best regular-season record in the NHL.
Therrien’s troops rallied from an 0-3 deficit to make a series of it against a superior team.
From training camp through the handshake line in Tampa, the Canadiens displayed nary a hint of internal dissension or dissatisfaction with their coach.
Quite the contrary.
With the exception of a few games – sadly including that steaming pile of brown apple sauce they left on the ice at Amalie Arena Tuesday night – the Canadiens played their asses off for Therrien.
The kindly old coach got everything ANYONE could possibly wring out of the 2014-’15 Montreal Canadiens.
via a press release from NBC Sports,
The Lightning look to advance to the Eastern Conference Final with a Game 6 win tonight at home against the Canadiens. Tampa Bay won the first three games of the series, but Montreal has responded with wins in Games 4 and 5 to keep its season alive, including a 6-2 win in Game 4 in Tampa.
If the Lightning win, they will move on to the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 2010, when they lost to the Boston Bruins in seven games. The Canadiens will look to survive and force a Game 7, giving them the opportunity to become the fifth team in NHL playoff history to win a series after trailing 3-0, and a chance to return to the Eastern Conference Final for the second straight season.
Kenny Albert (play-by-play), Joe Micheletti (analyst) and Emmy Award-winning Inside-the-Glass analyst Pierre McGuire will call the action from Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla.
The game is on NBCSN, CBC and TVA.
Feel free to discuss...
Puck drops just after 7:30pm ET tonight.
from Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette,
Lars Eller wore a peaceful, almost amused smile with his remarkably good playoff beard Tuesday noon-hour. “I started it earlier this year,” he said brightly.
In a few hours, Eller and his teammates would be walking back into Amalie Arena, wearing their game faces. But for now, hemmed into his dressing-room stall by the media, the 26-year-old centreman was happy to consider the challenge that lay ahead.
It was no greater or no less a challenge than what the Canadiens had faced in Games 4 and 5, also elimination matches against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“I guess not,” Eller said, asked whether there was anything left to say about his team’s rally to make a tremendous series out of something that nearly was a blowout.
“We’ve just got to go out and enjoy it, keep playing like we’ve been playing this whole series. We played our best hockey this season in this series and now we’re starting to get the results.
“At the same time, once this game starts, whatever happened in the past doesn’t matter. I expect this to be the hardest game so far for us.”
Game 6 is tonight and the Lightning will try to wrap up the series at home.
Here is Jon Cooper post-practice today...
Below, Michel Therrien after the Habs skated today...
from Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette,
“(The Lightning) have all the pressure, definitely,” Therrien said. “We were in the same position in the first round (against Ottawa). We had a 3-0 lead in the series and they took us to six games. The fourth game is always the hardest to win.”
The first round of the playoffs offered examples of both teams handling pressure. The Canadiens seemed to ease up after winning the first three games against Ottawa and struggled to win Game 6.
The Lightning never led in its series against the Detroit Red Wings until it won 2-0 in Game 7. Detroit led that series 3-2, but Tampa Bay won Game 6 in Detroit 5-2 and then relied on Ben Bishop for a shutout in the deciding game.
Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said that the final outcome of the series will reveal which team faced the most pressure.
“Whoever ends up losing the game is the team that had the most pressure and couldn’t get through it,” Cooper said. “Let’s be honest, that’s what it is. If you don’t read a newspaper and you don’t watch TV, you wouldn’t really know anything other than we’re playing the Montreal Canadiens tomorrow. That’s kind of how I’m looking at it.
“It’s been fun playing these guys this year,” Cooper added.
from Sean McIndoe of Grantland,
No team celebrates its history more than the Montreal Canadiens, and you can decide for yourself whether that’s a good thing. The franchise has become legendary for reminding us about its legends. That often takes place during inspiring pregame ceremonies that the Canadiens have elevated to a minor art form, thanks largely to no small amount of practice.
It doesn’t always work, but when it does, it works beautifully, as it did before Saturday night’s Game 5 of the Habs’ second-round series against the Lightning. In the moments leading up to puck drop, we were treated to a brief video featuring words of inspiration from Jean Beliveau, the longtime Canadiens captain who passed away earlier in the season. Beliveau remains one of the most universally beloved figures in the hockey world, and his no. 4 is painted on the ice behind the nets at the Bell Centre.
That number loomed over Saturday’s game: four, as in the series-clinching fourth win that the Lightning were chasing for the second straight game. Four, as in the number of consecutive wins the Canadiens would need to string together after having dropped the first three games of the series. Four, as in the number of teams in NHL history that have rallied all the way back from a 3-0 series deficit.
Rather than get credit for what he has achieved, Therrien has a target on his back the size of Mount Royal. The sad part is that the whole silly Babcock debate goes to the myth that the Canadiens are somehow hamstrung by the need for a French-speaking coach. That, I’m afraid, is a steaming pile of horse patootie.
-Jack Todd at the Montreal Gazette where you can read more on this topic.
from Tom Jones of the Tampa Bay Times,
The Lightning skated off the ice, heads down, dejected, eyes to the ground. The Bell Centre crowd, going insane, left the Lightning's ears ringing and its heads splitting.
As the Lightning stepped off the white sheet and down the tunnel toward the locker room, it surely had one thought in its mind: No way we want to come back here again.
That means the Lightning's hopes of moving on to the next round, its dream of a Stanley Cup and, more critically, everything it has accomplished this season will be on the line in Game 6 Tuesday night at Amalie Arena.
That is the Lightning's game of the year after Saturday night's 2-1 loss in Game 5 — a loss that really wasn't all that surprising but was nonetheless heartbreaking. Montreal scored with only 4:07 left to snap a 1-1 tie and send this series back to Tampa Bay.
A comfy 3-0 series lead has dwindled to a 3-2 pressure cooker.
"We put ourselves in this position," defenseman Anton Stralman said. "We definitely want to finish it off."
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.
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