Before we completely shift our focus to the second round and the Boston
Bruins, we wanted to take one last moment to reflect on the Habs’ Round 1
victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. The fact that the series ended in a
sweep was something that surprised many as hardly anyone saw that coming.
What else caught our writers by surprise?
Simon Aronson: For me, the biggest surprise of round one was
the balance in the Canadiens attack, namely the offence provided by Rene Bourque
and Lars Eller, who is currently tied for the team lead in playoff scoring. If I
was told before the series that Montreal would advance on a total of two goals
combined from Pacioretty and Vanek I probably would not have believed it.
Matt Dilworth: The obvious answers for this question are Rene
Bourque and Lars Eller, but I found something else more surprising in Round 1…
The Canadiens were able to win BOTH games that were refereed by Tim Peel and
Chris Lee. This is surely a good omen going forward.
Brian La Rose: Up until the final minute of the series, the
fourth line had as much production as the top line and despite this, the team
didn’t lose a single game. I don’t think anyone could have seen that
coming which makes this the biggest surprise in Round 1. Something that
was also unexpected was the fact that only three players didn’t record a point
in the series and two of those were the goalie and #6 defenceman.
Alex Létourneau: Without question it was the resurgence of Rene
Bourque. Like, really, who is this guy? Lars Eller has also been surprising, but
we’ve seen what he’s capable of this season, we haven’t seen this with Bourque
since he joined the team. Had anyone told me I’d be singing his praises at the
end of the first round, I’d probably have laughed and said something rude. But
Bourque decided to raise his level of play to heights I didn’t think he was
capable of reaching anymore. He’s been a prototypical power forward thus far and
I’m not entirely sure what will be going through Boston’s minds when they see
this new #17 causing havoc all over the ice. Whatever clicked for him, I hope it
Kevim Meldrum: The biggest surprise was how good Montreal’s
depth really was, combined with the total shut down of the neutral zone which
didn’t allow Tampa easy access to get much going offensively. It threw them off
their game and they had no counter attack whatsoever. This was my key to
Montreal winning the series and they addressed what was Tampa’s greatest asset
throughout the season (their offensive punch); Montreal did not allow them to
play their style and defended it with perfection.
Norm Szcyrek: Rene Bourque is the clear winner of this category
in the first round series. Not only did he lead the team with three goals [tied
with Brendan Gallagher] and led the team in shots on goal with 22, he played a
tough, engaged style of defensive play hitting the opposition hard but cleanly.
His consistency shift to shift was impressive. I considered Gallagher for this
category, but my expectations of Bourque going into the playoffs were at an
extreme low. For him to do a complete 180 and begin playing like the power
forward the Habs hoped they traded for, gives him the edge as the biggest