Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Sean McIndoe of Grantland,
If you’re a Wild fan, you’re not in terrible shape. They almost certainly need to win tonight, and probably again in Game 4 on Thursday. That won’t be easy against a Hawks team that looks to finally be shifting into Stanley Cup mode right on time. But they’ve got a shot.
The Flames have a weaker case. They’ll no doubt get a boost from a loud crowd tonight, but the Ducks went into a raucous building in Winnipeg in Round 1 and did just fine. Calgary’s biggest problem is that they just don’t look like they’re good enough to keep up with Anaheim. They’ve still got a puncher’s chance here, but not much more than that.
And then there’s Montreal. The Habs certainly didn’t fare well in the various categories that made up this post, and after Sunday night they looked like a team that was closer to a full-scale meltdown than a comeback. So it’s tempting to write them off completely … until you remember Carey Price. The guy is going to be MVP for a reason, and if anyone can single-handedly steal a series his team has no right to win, it’s him. And the way they’re playing right now, the Canadiens might need exactly that.
Put all 60 of the NHL’s goalies together on the same ice, watch them move and make a few saves, and 59 look like accomplished variations of each other. Then there’s Price.
He moves only when he needs to move. At every other moment, crouched and coiled, his feet, his body, remain still. Even during pregame anthems, as teammates and opponents pump and rev, their skates bouncing from side to side, Price’s face, his skates, are unmoving. Quiet feet, quiet mind. But when the game begins, when a pass snaps from one stick to another in front of him, he shoots across his crease on his knees as if riding a cushion of air, ricocheting about like a disc in an air-hockey game; upright, his arms tight to his sides, the between-the-legs gap known as the 5-hole shut.
It is a sight to see. This year, Price is almost sure to win the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s best goalie, and the Hart Trophy as most valuable player. And yet, for this Canadiens team to win the franchise’s 25th Stanley Cup and first since 1993, it is not enough.
-Ken Dryden at the Wall Street Journal where you can read more on on Carey Price and the Canadiens.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
... Monday was a day to get on a plane and lick some wounds, now that Montreal is down 2-0 to the Tampa Bay Lightning, with Games 3 and 4 set for Wednesday and Thursday at Amalie Arena.
"Today is not an easy day, especially when you end up losing those two games at home," Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien said Monday on a conference call. "We've traveled to Tampa, and tomorrow we need to have a good practice, stay upbeat and be ready for Wednesday. But [the two off-days] could be a good thing for us."
Habs forward Torrey Mitchell was part of the 2011 San Jose Sharks team that jumped out to a 3-0 series lead over Detroit, only to see the Red Wings push it to seven games. That's the kind of personal experience he can glean from right now.
"Absolutely, and even more recently, just in the last series, you saw how difficult it was to close out Ottawa," Mitchell said Monday on a conference call. "By no means do we feel like we're done. We're excited about the next game, and that's where our focus is at right now."
You never want to count out a team that has Carey Price in goal. He can single-handedly change the script, as he did with his 43-save, Herculean effort in Game 6 of the first round to finish off a rabid Senators team smelling blood.
The thing is, I just don't see the same team of a year ago, which had more pizzazz about it. Montreal had that "it" factor in sweeping Tampa and upsetting Boston in seven games.
from Jack Todd at the Montreal Gazette,
Somewhere today, Jon Cooper should be penning a letter of thanks to those brain-cramped Habs. Not only did they help his team find its own struggling power play with four man-advantage goals on the night, they also helped Steven Stamkos climb down off the milk carton.
There’s no free pass for Prust and his mates on this one, although the veteran forward did his best to hand the blame to Watson as he stood under the “Pas d’excuses — No excuses” sign in the Canadiens room, making his excuses.
It all started with Prust (who was having a strong post-season until Sunday night) trying to goad Lightning defenceman Braydon Coburn into a fight in front of the Tampa Bay net. (It should be noted that the puck, at the time, was at the other end of the ice.) The roughing was pretty much routine: Prust grabbed Coburn’s jersey and gave him a couple of shoves. Coburn refused the invitation to dance. Watson made the call.
Now Brendan Gallagher endures worse a dozen times a night with no call but them’s the breaks. Given that the Canadiens were leading 1-0 and playing very well at the time, you have to wonder why Prust decided that was the moment to stir things up. Then he compounded the felony with an unsportsmanlike for saying (in his words) that the call was a little soft. It’s a safe bet that Prust didn’t phrase it quite that way but Watson’s reaction was still way out of line.
If you missed the comments by Prust, watch below...
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
The Habs came unglued Sunday evening. They’re down two-zip in the series heading to Tampa and don’t yet have an answer.
Are we looking at a possible sweep here? Don’t count out the Habs just yet, Prust warned.
"I think it’s just going to feel that much better when we win and the floodgates open and we get rolling," Prust said. "It’s going to feel that much better."
Bold words, but it’s on the ice the Canadiens have to prove themselves now. They look lost, and the Lightning are looking more dangerous than they have all playoff long.
more on last night's game...
from Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette,
Cue the great tuba music from The Flintstones, because there was some thoroughly boneheaded hockey on display at the Bell Centre on Sunday night.
The Canadiens are in the kind of pit where Fred toiled in Mr. Slate’s quarry, down two games to none to the Tampa Bay Lightning with the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal headed to Florida for Games 3 and 4 Wednesday and Thursday.
The Habs have only themselves to blame for the brontosaurus-sized mess that was their 6-2 loss Sunday, trooping to the sin bin with a fistful of brain-cramped penalties on which the Lightning’s erstwhile volt-challenged power play pounced four times.
And it could have been worse than that.
“It was the start we were looking for,” Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said, his team having surged early and, for only the second time in eight post-season games, having scored a game’s first goal.
“Before we took some really, really bad penalties at the end of the first period, I thought we were perfect. Pretty simple: discipline cost the game. This is unacceptable.”
Watch the game 'mshup' below...
Brandon Prust might have a fine pending after he tee’d off post-game over the quality of refereeing he felt Game 2 between the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning, particularly from referee Brad Watson.
Below, watch some of Prust's work tonight.
from Tracey Lindeman of CBC,
François Maillet doesn't consider himself to be overly into hockey — he says he watches about a quarter of the Montreal Canadiens' regular-season games.
"I'm just a normal guy. Not even a gigantic fan," said Miallet.
But when it comes time for the playoffs, he's admittedly a full-fledged bandwagon jumper.
"Right now, I think like most people, I watch every game," he said.
And now he's got a reason to watch — he's hacked into his Verdun home's smartphone-controlled lighting system to generate a sound and light show every time the Habs score.
When the Habs score, red, white and blue lights flash for about 30 seconds while playing the Habs' old goal song (appropriately titled Le Goal Song by Montreal band L'Oreille Cassée).
It helps that he's a computer scientist who specializes in artificial intelligence and machine learning.
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,
Coming off a heartbreaking 2-1 loss in double overtime to the Bolts in Game 1 on Friday, the Habs cannot afford to head to Tampa for Game 3 on Wednesday trailing 2-0. Montreal has lost six straight to the Lightning and hasn’t beaten the Bolts since completing a four-game sweep in the playoffs last April.
Are the Habs worried? Not a chance. But you get a sense that if it doesn’t turn around in Game 2, their confidence could quickly turn to doubt.
“We did a lot of good things,” said coach Michel Therrien. “We had a really tough time during the regular season, we hadn’t played our best against Tampa Bay in the regular season for different reasons.
“But we all understand that, when you get to the playoffs, it’s a new season. Teams get a chance to get prepared. We know what we’re facing. Our focus is only on one game. And I think from the team’s standpoint, we did a lot of good things to be really upbeat and confident for (Game 2).”
Though Tampa goalie Ben Bishop didn’t look good when he allowed Habs winger Max Pacioretty to tie it up 1-1 at 14:57 of the third to send it OT by allowing the puck to slip through his glove, it didn’t matter in the end because Big Ben made 44 stops as Nikita Kucherov scored the winner.
Bishop has moved his record to 11-1-2 lifetime against the Habs (including the regular season and playoffs) with a 1.46 GAA and .945 save-percentage. Those are heady numbers, which means Montreal has to do a better job getting to him which they tried Friday by going to the net constantly.
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.
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