Here we are now, and 81 games have come and gone, and tonight after the puck
is dropped on the 82nd, yet another regular season will be finished. There have
been ups and downs, but recently, the downs have been heavier than the ups. Win
tonight, boys, against a Sabres team that has already been eliminated, and we’ll
be entering the second season in perfect fashion, on a winning streak.
Tonight’s game against the Sabres, which will be the sixth meeting of the
season, could have a huge impact on our playoff future. Yes, we’re guaranteed to
be there, but it takes two to swing and who will be our partner?
While a strong effort in Philly on Thursday promotes good feelings for Habs
fans as we approach the 7:00 puck drop tonight at the Bell Centre, where it is
Fan Appreciation Night, the Sabres will be looking to spoil their division
rivals Saturday night.
A loss tonight and an Islanders victory on Sunday would have us slip
awkwardly to eighth in the conference, preparing to face the upbeat Lightning.
They don’t appear to be particularily scary, but Martin St. Louis and Vincent
Lecavalier can surely be counted on to cause havoc.
On the other hand, two points would be a mighty fine reward for the
Islanders. After all their hard work to surpass us, it would be pretty nice to
fire back a nice W shaped jab, just to show them that there’s no way they’ll be
sliiding past us.
Should the Habs take the win tonight, and Ottawa does the same against the
Leafs, than the Sens would take home the Northeast Division crown, otherwise
handing them the second spot in the East.
However, if Boston goes winless in their two game set with the Devils, and
the Bruins, don’t forget, will be without Joe “Can I Cheapshot You” Thornton,
and the Leafs defeat the Senators tonight, than it’s said that we will be facing
the greatest of all evils, the ugliest of ugly, and the stupidest of stupid; the
Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Maple Fans.
Playoff races and complicated facts aside, it’s been a good year. Jose has
been great in net, and Mathieu Garon has been, depending on who you ask, just as
good. In front of those two, Sheldon Souray and Patrice Brisebois have made fine
Andrei Markov, and, recently, Mike Komisarek have proven that they will be
big parts of the team for a very long time. Francis Bouillon, given a chance
first by Bob Gainey and Claude Julien, and then by Ron Hainsey and the fans,
played his heart out and had a great season, while veterans Stephane Quintal and
Craig Rivet had strong seasons, too, despite having their far share of
Up front, captain Koivu was excellent, and Mike Ribeiro surprised us all in
an excellent way. The two jostled once in practice, but who really cares? After
all, it not only sparked the two of them, but others such as Michael Ryder and
Richard Zednik. Ryder was a miracle worker, or so it seemed, and other forwards
such as Steve Begin, Jan Bulis, and Jason Ward all made big contributions.
As has been said many times by many people, Bob Gainey can be thanked dearly
for his work. Mr. Gainey brought forth confidence and stability, as well
as pride and honor to the team. He lifted his head and backed his players
when they were booed, and also looked elsewhere when holes needed to be filled.
He played hardball with those who were swinging and missing, and he tossed aside
media members like Godzilla.
All in all, a fine regular season is about to come to a close, and from here
on in, let’s hope that the man at the top is not only capable of working magic
in the current time, but can perhaps rekindle some of that old time spirit that
we all long for come this time of year.
A win is in the cards, or at least we hope so. To be honest, a playoff
matchup is a playoff matchup, no matter who we play. It’s great to be back in
the postseason, and with the sun shining outside things just feel … right.
Go Habs, and after 82 games, why not add another 20 to that.