Kukla's Korner Hockey
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.
from Mike Boone of Hockey Inside/Out,
All together now: Go Red Wings, Go!
During the regular season, your Montreal Canadiens were 4-0 against Detroit, outscoring the Wings 12-5.
Against Tampa Bay, which faces elimination at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit Monday night, the Canadiens 0-4-1. The Lightning outscored the Canadiens 21-8.
The more favourable match-up for the next round of the playoffs would seem to be an Original Six revival.
But perhaps we can throw out the regular season as an indication of what will happen in the playoffs.
After all, the Canadiens were 1-3 against Ottawa this season. And they ended the Senators’ season in six games… while looking all too often like a team that won one and lost three to Ottawa.
You knew Carey Price was going to steal a game in this series. And man, did he ever pick a good time to play like the goaltender who is going to win the Vezina and Hart Trophies.
After giving up five goals on 25 shots in Game 5 at the Bell Centre, Price made 43 stops to hang a goose egg on the Senators in their own barn. It was the first time Ottawa had been shut out this season.
The Canadiens defeated the Ottawa Senators 2-0 thus winning the series 4-2.
They will play the wtnner of the Detroit/Tampa series.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
This is the moment of reckoning for the Montreal Canadiens.
The NHL's second-best team in the regular season with 110 points never has garnered the kind of respect and belief from the rest of the hockey world that the runners-up to the Presidents' Trophy would normally get. Perhaps some of that is the new age of parity in today’s NHL, where there are truly no longer any great teams by yesteryear’s definition.
But more than anything, it’s the perception, fair or not, that Hart Trophy front-runner Carey Price cooked the books all year long and provided a mirage in the standings, lifting the Habs to a place they truly don’t belong.
And so with the Ottawa Senators now breathing down their necks with that knowing look in their eye, the Canadiens are faced with their first real adversity of the entire season.
Unlike the Sens, who have played like there's no tomorrow for two months, the Habs have coasted comfortably from Day 1 in October, never once losing more than three games in a row all season.
They’re in the frying pan for the first time. And all those people around the league who don’t believe in them, from the analytics community to just old-school scouts, are waiting breathlessly to jump on them over the next few days if they blow a 3-0 series lead.
from Don Brennan of the Ottawa Sun,
With some wind at their back, the Senators will get an extra push in Game 6 from what could be the loudest, wildest crowd Canadian Tire Centre has ever hosted.
The once unimaginable story of Ottawa's Comeback Kids has the citizens in a state of euphoria.
"Games 3 and 4 were incredible," Bobby Ryan said when asked to predict what the atmosphere would be like Sunday. "I was told about it and prepared for it, but couldn't believe it. The building is going to be rocking, and our fans certainly deserve it."
It started off like that at Bell Centre on Sunday night, but the Senators never did really allow the Habs' faithful anything to get overly excited about.
"The only stat I know is we beat them," coach Dave Cameron when asked about 18 turnovers by his club, which was outshot 46-25. "I don't think at any point that game was in doubt, from our point of view."
If you just looked at the box score, you would wonder what Cameron was smoking. If you watched the game, you understood him to be correct.
"We're still down 3-2. We have to concentrate on the game (Sunday)," said Cameron. "The fact that you're home doesn't guarantee you anything. We have to find a way to win another hockey game.
via the CP at NHL.com,
With 2:03 left in Ottawa's 5-1 victory on Friday night, Prust moved into the crease and brushed against Anderson, who responded with a stick jab in the back. Prust then began spearing the goaltender in the midsection and a skirmish broke out.
Prust was called for roughing and cross-checking and Patrick Wiercioch got a roughing minor, while P.K. Subban and Eric Gryba got 10 minute misconducts for a lively wrestling match.
"There's certainly frustration on their part," said Cameron. "A sure sign of frustration is when they're taking cheap shots at your goaltender, who's a real good player for us.
"Cheap, extremely cheap. Prust, I've known for a long time. I think he's a respectable guy. A real good player for a long time. But that was cheap what he did tonight."
Prust did not speak to the media after the game and coach Michel Therrien made no comment.
Anderson was unfazed by the incident.
"He's going to the net hard. It's just a battle of emotions there," said Anderson. "I'm fighting for my ice, he's fighting for his ice. I got a little stickwork, but no harm, no foul."
Watch the incident below...
from Wayne Scanlan of the Ottawa Citizen,
Not so fast.
If the Montreal Canadiens had designs on heading home to catch some R & R before round two, they just got handed a change of itinerary, otherwise known as Game 5 at the Bell Centre Friday night.
The Senators bought themselves life and inspired fan dreams of another 2014-15 miracle with a determined 1-0 victory in Game 4 at the Canadian Tire Centre, a win born out of a push and resolve that built as the game went on. The Habs carry a 3-1 series lead, but the first elimination bullet has been dodged.
“We don’t want it to end,” said winger Mark Stone, who seemed to have the puck on a string for most of the third period. “We love coming to the rink. We wanted to live to fight another day.”
The Senators did just that, in high drama – riding a third period goal from Mike Hoffman with 10:55 remaining in the third period, ending nearly 50 minutes of scoreless, breathtaking hockey.
Watch the game highlights below...
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,
They sat quietly in their dressing room and tried to put on a brave face.
Craig Anderson couldn’t pull off his own heist Sunday night and now the Senators stand on the brink of elimination.
The move to change to the club’s top goalie was viewed as panic in the morning, it was looking brilliant heading into the third period, but in the end nothing was working for the Senators as Dale Weise scored his second of the night at 8:47 of OT to give the Montreal Canadiens a dramatic 2-1 victory.
Anderson made 47 saves but Weise beat him short side for the win.
The packed house of 20,500 at Canadian Tire Centre left in a state of shock as Weise beat Anderson to give the Habs a commanding 3-0 series lead. Only Clarke MacArthur was able to beat Carey Price on the 33 shots he faced as Weise beat Anderson in regulation to send it to OT.
“It was a close one,” said Anderson. “It’s frustrating. The guys battled so hard, played so well and to come up short is frustrating.
“I gave the team a chance to win and that’s my job. It’s frustrating I wasn’t able to get the win for the guys. We’ve got to put this behind us and get ready to go.”
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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