Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Habs win! Habs win! Habs win!


Unbelievable.

After an up-and-down season, I didn't exactly have high hopes for the Canadiens heading into the playoffs. Surely the high-flying Capitals would trounce them. Washington vanquished in seven, surely the Stanley Cup champion Penguins would put an end to their Cinderella run.

Not so fast.

Missing Andrei Markov, their top defencemen (and one of the best in the league) and possibly their best player (outside of goaltender Jaroslav Halak, who has been largely brilliant in the playoffs thus far), the Habs, my team since I was a small child growing up in Montreal, jumped out to a huge 4-0 lead, silencing the crowd and putting an obviously nervous Pittsburgh squad on their heels. The Penguins put on the pressure, however, and scored twice to make it 4-2 after two. And it looked at that point, with Pittsburgh coming on strong, that the next goal would mean the win. And it was the Habs who scored. Brian Gionta knocked in Montreal's fifth goal exactly halfway through the third, assisted by Scott Gomez and Mike Cammalleri, who scored the team's third goal and now has 12 so far in the playoffs.

And that was that. Halak was excellent the rest of the way, the defence, which has been dealing with injuries, including to shutdown stalwart Hal Gill, solidified, and the Habs went on to an amazing 5-2 victory, another Game 7 win on the road against one of the top teams in the East.

And now it's off to the Eastern Conference finals against either Boston or Philadelphia, who have come back from 3-0 down to tie the series up at three.

Montreal is celebrating tonight, the streets teeming with cheering fans. Myself, I'm just ecstatic. This has been an unexpected run, with victories over two supposedly dominant teams, but the Habs certainly have a chance to beat either team in the next round. They may even be the favourite.

The run may end, and likely will, if not against Boston or Philadelphia then certainly against the winner of the Western Conference finals, either San Jose or Chicago, two really strong teams, but there's no use worrying about that now. The greatest franchise in the history of sports has made it to the NHL's final four. I'll succumb to anxiety once the next round gets under way, but, for now, let's just enjoy the ride.

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2 Comments:

  • I am from Montreal and feel the exact same way. Great piece. Go Habs!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:04 AM  

  • Michael ... Major Clutch Stuff! ... The Penguins really choked (one article I read excused them, for "being tired", being in the finals the past two years, and the Olympics ...

    If that's the case, that can't piss with the big dogs ...

    Go Habs!

    By Blogger The Garlic, at 10:24 AM  

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