With a 6-2 blowout win over Tampa Bay Thursday, the Montreal Canadiens avoided the ignominy of being swept in their second-round showdown against the Lightning team they swept in the first round of the 2013-14 post-season. But although they’re headed back to Montreal and an undoubtedly-electric Bell Centre for Game 5 Saturday, the Habs are still very much behind the eight-ball.
As they showed in Round 1 vs. Detroit, the Lightning aren’t a perfect team and are perfectly capable of coming up with a flat effort or two in a series. But the Habs will be facing a Bolts squad that has yet to lose two consecutive games in these playoffs and it remains a near-insurmountable task for them to sweep the final four games of this battle. Read more
Should the Montreal Canadiens lose tonight, and even worse should they get swept with a whimper instead of a bang, the calls for Michel Therrien’s job will go beyond the Habs fan base and they’ll get louder. Much louder.
It probably won’t happen in the off-season, if for no other reason than the Canadiens signed Therrien to a four-year contract extension over the summer, but you can bet that Therrien’s name will figure prominently on the list of coaches on the hot seat when next season begins. Read more
The Montreal Canadiens are the NHL’s most accomplished franchise, but as an Original Six team that’s played in high-stakes games they at times haven’t won, the franchise has had its share of heartbreak as well. And one of the Habs’ more spirit-crushing moments in recent memory took place Wednesday when they faced off against the Lightning in Game 3 of their second-round series; with the score tied at a goal apiece and just 1.1 second remaining in regulation time, the Canadiens suffered a catastrophic defensive breakdown and allowed Bolts star Tyler Johnson to walk in and score the game-winning goal:
It wasn’t just sickening to Habs fans because Johnson drove to the net, took a pass from blueliner Victor Hedman and beat star goalie Carey Price as star defenseman P.K. Subban was right behind him. It wasn’t just a heartbreaker because it came an eye’s blink from a fresh sheet of ice and a chance to beat the Lightning for the first time in eight games. It’s like chugging battery acid for Canadiens fans because it also put Montreal down 3-0 in the series, with Game 4 scheduled for the next night. This was a stomach-punch-with-a-Ticketmaster-surcharge moment, and there was no getting around it. Read more
After going without a goal in the first round against Detroit, Lightning superstar Steven Stamkos has made a much bigger impact on offense in Tampa Bay’s second-round series against Montreal, breaking out in Game 2 Sunday with a one-goal, three-point night in a 6-2 Bolts win. And Stamkos continued producing early in Game 3 Wednesday, setting up teammate Alex Killorn beautifully for the first goal of the night.
The Lightning won both games in Montreal and were playing before a lively crowd in Tampa Bay Wednesday when Killorn secured the puck in the Canadiens’ zone and sent the puck off the boards and back to Stamkos. The Bolts’ captain, who finished the opening round with three assists in seven games, calmly sent it right back to Kilorn with a slick backhanded pass – and Killorn proceeded to beat Habs goalie Carey Price at the 12:00 mark of the first period for his third goal of this post-season: Read more
The NHL Players’ Association revealed Tuesday the three finalists for this year’s Ted Lindsay Award recognizing the league’s most outstanding player as voted by fellow NHLPA members: Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price, Dallas Stars winger Jamie Benn and Washington Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin. Read more
The NHL announced Tuesday it had fined Canadiens left winger Brandon Prust $5,000 for “derogatory comments” about referee Brad Watson on Sunday after Montreal’s 6-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 2 of their second-round playoff series.
“Brandon Prust’s post-game comments were both baseless and demeaning of a referee whose 20-year career in the League has been marked by professionalism, integrity and a high degree of respect from players, coaches and management,” NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell said in a news release. Read more
There’s something awfully familiar about the Montreal Canadiens in the 2014-15 playoffs. It’s not “last year” familiar. It’s more “two years ago” familiar.
Remember Montreal’s short run in the 2013 post-season? It was a mostly disastrous five-game loss to the Ottawa Senators. In Game 1, Sens D-man Eric Gryba knocked out Habs center Lars Eller with an illegal hit to the head, resulting in a two-game suspension. Paul MacLean, Ottawa’s coach at the time, got under Montreal’s skin afterward by blaming the hit on a suicide pass from “player 61,” a.k.a. Eller’s teammate Raphael Diaz. Ottawa won the game 4-2. Montreal agitator Brandon Prust spoke out against MacLean, telling media “I don’t care what that fat, bug-eyed walrus has to say.”
Montreal bounced back to win Game 2, but it got ugly in Game 3. The less-skilled Senators drew the Habs into a street fight. A whopping 236 penalty minutes ensued, and Ottawa won 6-1 thanks to a truckload of power play goals. MacLean called a timeout with 17 seconds left, and Canadiens coach Michel Therrien chowed down on the bait, calling MacLean “classless” after the defeat. The Sens won Game 4 in overtime, with Carey Price getting injured, and crushed Montreal 6-1 again in Game 5.
So why dig up a series from two years ago? Because the Habs let their emotions take over, and it was their downfall. They lost focus and let the scrappier team goad them into brawling, ugly style of play and a war of words. Media coverage of the series swirled around cheap shots and name calling. And it appears the same thing is happening in Montreal’s series with Tampa Bay, though the venom is directed more at the officiating than the Lightning.