Over the past few years here at HabsWorld, we’ve previewed matchups by
looking at the victory keys. With the first round of the postseason set to
start next week against Tampa Bay, our writers offer up their various strategies
for success. Which is the single most important key to victory for the
Habs against the Lightning to help them advance to the next round?
Simon Aronson: In my view, the single most important key for
the Canadiens to have success in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs is
sound and solid team defence. I know it’s cliché but there is a reason you
always hear that defence wins championships. Tampa Bay has some dangerous
forwards that can make teams pay for defensive errors. If Montreal can play
strong team defence, that will only amplify the advantage that the Habs have
between the pipes. If the Canadiens are strong defensively, I see the Habs’
forward group as being deeper as well as more experienced in the playoffs and
this will help them come out on top.
Matt Dilworth: In order for the Habs to succeed, I think they
will need to score quickly and often. Based on the low-scoring games this
season, it’s not too much of a stretch to think that Ben Bishop could be the
Habs’ heads, and we all know that a hot goalie can be the deciding factor in the
series. The Canadiens will need to go to the net more often (which they have of
late) and make life miserable for Bishop. Bishop is lacking in playoff
experience, and there is no reason to make things easy for him in this regard.
If the Canadiens can regularly score a few goals per game, I have confidence in
Carey Price outduelling Bishop.
Matt Gauthier: Score the first goal. The Habs must keep
up their recent trend of scoring first, get the momentum on their side and build
their confidence as the series goes on.
Brian La Rose: Secondary scoring will be crucial. I have
confidence that the top line of Pacioretty-Desharnais-Vanek will continue to
produce (though perhaps not as much as they have down the stretch) but there’s a
giant question mark as to who else will score beyond that. Tomas Plekanec
and his line will likely be used primarily in a defensive role so someone from
the bottom six will have to pick up the slack. Does Daniel Briere have
another strong playoff run in him? Can Lars Eller and Rene Bourque produce
with consistency? If the answers to these are yes, the Habs are in good
shape. If the answers are no, they’re in trouble.
Kevin Meldrum: The most important key for success is to have
strong play in the neutral zone. Tampa’s success begins and ends here. They have
to limit turnovers blue line to blue line and be relentless and not allow Tampa
easy access to their defensive zone.
Norm Szcyrek: Team defence. The offence has been on a roll for
the last few weeks, which is a great way to go into the playoffs. Goaltending
has also been good-to-great since Carey Price has returned from his injury. If
the team can play good defensively as a team once the playoffs begin, then they
have a great chance to get past round one.
Mitchell Tierney: Offence is the most important key in the
first round. The Bolts, especially Bishop, have kept the Canadiens from putting
up big numbers against them all year. This will be a big issue if it continues
in the playoffs. Vanek, Pacioretty and Desharnais will be leaned upon to
generate most of the offence, as the secondary scoring has been questionable of
late. Some would argue that shutting down Stamkos is the key, and that is
important. But Montreal has done very well in the recent future against star
players. Plekanec will be the key in this regard.