Kukla's Korner Hockey
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.
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.
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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