Kukla's Korner Hockey
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.
from Mike Boone of Hockey Inside/Out,
One game does not a series make. And one double-overtime loss doesn’t end the Canadiens’ season.
It was, however, the Canadiens sixth straight loss to Tampa since Pacioretty’s series winner. The Lightning won all five regular-season games against the Canadiens in 2014-’15. And Nikita Kucherov’s goal, just over two minutes into the second OT period Friday night made it six straight – in a game the Canadiens should have won.
While the Canadiens completed their opening-round elimination of Ottawa last Sunday night in Kanata, the Lightning had to battle back from a 3-2 series deficit against Detroit, finally knocking off the Wings in a seventh-game squeaker Wednesday night.
As the series against Tampa began, the Canadiens were the rested team. And as overtime wore on, the rested team should have had an advantage.
That might have been the case had the game lasted longer. But Kucherov ended it before the Canadiens could register a shot on Ben Bishop in the second OT period.
Most of the stats favoured the Canadiens: a 44-35 shot advantage, 34 blocked shots to 27 for Tampa Bay, a 43-32 margin in hits, 55 wins in 89 faceoffs.
But we all know the only stat that counts is the final score.
Below, watch Sportnet's 'Mashup' of the game...
from Mike Johnston of Sportsnet,
Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien certainly thought it was a blown call saying "offside is black or white" unlike penalties, which are judgement calls.
"Losing a game on an offside, those things are not supposed to happen," Therrien told reporters at the post-game press conference. "It was clearly an offside and we end up losing the game."
from Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times,
The Lightning's season ended here stunningly last April, getting swept in the first round by the Canadiens. Tampa Bay hasn't been playing up the revenge card, pointing out how its a much different team than the one that lost last year. Just look at the handful of new players in the lineup, especially goalie Ben Bishop.
"That's a very big difference," Cooper said.
So is this. The Canadiens, which won the Atlantic Division and have home ice advantage, are calling themselves underdogs, per coach Michel Therrien. How did Cooper respond?
"They had 110 points, won the division, have a Vezina candidate, Hart candidate, Norris candidate. I guess if we had those, I'd say, 'Yeah he's the underdog," Cooper said. "But we don't have those."
The Lightning comes in confident, and also focused, captain Steven Stamkos said. While Tampa Bay won all five regular season meetings against Montreal, goalie Ben Bishop said that means nothing. As Stamkos said, "This is a brand new ballgame."
"We realize they beat us pretty handily in the playoffs last year," Stamkos said. "I don't think we went into every game this past season wanting to beat them so bad because of it. We wanted to win because they were the team we were facing that night. It's no different now."
from Stu Cowan at Hockey Inside/Out,
Throughout a campaign that saw the Canadiens put more wins together than any other season in 26 years, they’ve been dogged by a question: what if you face Tampa Bay in the playoffs?
The Lightning dominated Montreal at every turn this year, winning all five games they played against the Canadiens, including one in overtime. Now the question that’s lingered for months has become a reality. The doomsday scenario that so many fans and pundits feared is upon us and the Habs say they’re happy to try to prove the naysayers wrong.
“If people feel that strongly about how badly we match up against them then I hope we can prove that we can beat a team like this in the playoffs,” Max Pacioretty said after practice Thursday in Brossard. “It’s extra motivation. I sat here since we beat Ottawa answering questions like, ‘What if you play Tampa? You don’t match up well against Tampa,’ but the playoffs are a whole other situation. We have to make it uncomfortable for them. … It’s a tough task but it’s what we have to do.”
The Canadiens, as we’re so often reminded by the team’s management, are a young squad and one that seems uncomfortable in any other role than underdog. Despite finishing first in their division, the Canadiens played the “us against the world” card as they faced Ottawa in the opening round of the playoffs. Now they’ll use this mindset to try to unseat the National Hockey League’s most prolific offence.
from Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette,
The Canadiens will work out roughly 12 hours before knowing whether they’ll face the Detroit Red Wings or Tampa Bay Lightning in Round 2.
“No cheering from the press box,” the sportswriting saying goes, impartiality required to properly cover a game.
Well, forgive me if I cheer unashamedly for the Red Wings on Wednesday night in their sudden-death tilt vs. the Lightning in Tampa Bay.
It’s no secret that I’m a fan of the history of hockey and the legends and the traditions of the game. With all due respect to the Lightning, the Red Wings leave them in the dust in that regard.
The view from this keyboard, not to disrespect some wonderful rivalries throughout the NHL, is that Original Six playoff hockey trumps all. It was a special atmosphere when the Canadiens swept the Lightning in their Eastern quarter-final last season, but there was something magical when they beat the Bruins and then fell to the Rangers.
Maybe it’s the magnificent crests on the jerseys. Maybe it’s the history woven through them. But in a 30-team NHL, a meeting between two of the “original” clubs is cause for celebration.
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 email@example.com