It was a tale of two halves for the Habs over
the last seven days. The start of the week saw them play great hockey en
route to completing a comeback vs Boston while it ended on a sour note with an
embarrassing loss to the Rangers. The Habs’ most dangerous goal scorers
highlight this past week’s Cheers and Jeers while I try to find a positive from
Saturday’s loss in my Final Thought.
1) Max Pacioretty for stepping up when the team
needed him most. It took him a while to score against the Bruins but his
goal in Game 6 is thought by some to be the turning point of that game while his
tally in Game 7 was the winner. He may not have been a clutch performer at
the beginning but he was at the end.
2) Carey Price, who cast away any doubt about
his playoff performances by allowing just a single (redirected) goal in the
final two games against Boston. He needed to be at his best for the Habs
to come back in that series and he did exactly that.
3) The mistake-free play from Nathan Beaulieu.
Yes, he’s getting sheltered minutes (and not many minutes total at that) but he
has fit into the lineup relatively well thus far. A little bit of
stability at the #6 position is all that the Habs need at this time and if he
can keep it up, that spot on the blueline is his to lose.
1) The letdown for Game 1 against New York.
Need I say more? That was a game to forget.
2) Thomas Vanek’s inconsistency when it comes
to his effort level. In a few games, he is completely invisible most
shifts while in others, he has had some good shifts mixed in with the bad.
We haven’t seen more good than bad for a while though. Playoff hockey
isn’t new to him so he should know by now what is required to succeed in the
postseason. It’s time to put that experience to use.
3) Not practicing what you preach when it comes
to many fans. A lot of fans bemoaned the lack of respect that Montreal got
from Boston. Many of those same people were quick to proclaim that the
Habs were going to get past the Rangers easily and not giving New York any
credit for making it as far as they have. If Game 1 is any indication,
those proclamations should be coming to an end.
Assists: P.K. Subban (8)
Points: P.K. Subban (12)
+/-: Mike Weaver (+8) (tied for playoff high)
PIMS: P.K. Subban (25)
Shots: Max Pacioretty (42)
This past week saw the postseason end for three
of Montreal’s six prospects that were still in action.
Mike Condon – Wheeling: Wheeling’s
playoff run game to an end as they were blanked 4-0 by Greenville in Game 6.
Condon’s year isn’t over yet though as he has been recalled to Montreal to skate
with the Black Aces.
Jeremy Gregoire/Charles Hudon – Baie-Comeau:
The Drakkar’s season is over after a heart-breaking loss to Val D’Or in Game 7.
They were trailing 3-0 in the 3rd, came back to tie it, and then lost the game
in the final minute. Gregoire had the game-tying goal and an assist while
Hudon was held off the scoresheet. Both finished in the top-12 in playoff
scoring, Gregoire was 9th and Hudon 12th.
Robert Mayer – Switzerland: Mayer
remains the unregistered third string goalie at the Worlds. The Swiss find
themselves on the outside looking in with one game left in their round-robin
play and will need some help if they’re to make the quarterfinals.
Magnus Nygren – Sweden: Injuries bumped
Nygren onto the third pairing for a couple of games but he has since settled
back into a #7/PP specialist role. The Swedes have clinched a top-2 seed
in their pool and in doing so, have locked up a spot in the quarters.
Martin Reway – Slovakia: The bad news is
that Reway has started the game on the fourth line in Slovakia’s last few
contests. The good news is that he has seen more ice time than he did when
he was starting on the second/third line. The Slovaks are presently in 6th
in their pool but still have a chance to make the next round.
If I was to pick one emotion that stood out
amongst the rest following Montreal’s Game 7 victory in Boston, it would be
relief. In part because it was nice to see the Habs complete the series
comeback and move on but also as the win hopefully puts an end to the
hyper-vigilance that befalls us every time there’s a series against Boston.
Every action or inaction gets over-analyzed and quite often, takes away from the
play on the ice entirely.
Take Game 6 for an example. Normally,
squaring up the series when facing elimination would mean the focus would be on
the win. It wasn’t here. Instead, there was plenty of talk about
Dale Weise’s muscle flex, the response to Shawn Thornton’s bottle squirt from
Game 5, and allegations of ‘poking the bear’. If there was one positive
from Saturday’s debacle against the Rangers, it’s this. The focus was on
the game and not the sideshow surrounding the rivalry. I for one am
looking forward to more of that…less the blowout loss of course.