The wait is over, all day long there were hints of red poking out of spring jackets and the same sentence repeated: “Where are you going to watch the game tonight?” The city of Montreal was ready for game one. The question was: were the Canadiens ready as well?
Game one was the game to answer some questions. Can the Canadiens bounce back from the 7-0 blowout the last time they played the Bruins? Can their speed outdo Boston’s strength? A big question for myself was where was I going to watch the game?
It was an all star affair, Former Hab tough guy Chris Nilan was making a cameo at McLean’s Pub. NDP leader Jack Layton took time from his election campaign to grab a couple beers at La Cage aux Sports at the Bell Centre. The best advice to the leaders in this Federal Election: your approval rating will go up when you appear at bars watching the playoffs.
I ended up at Ye Olde Orchard downtown. An hour before the game the bar was already packed and in a sea of Bleu, Blanc et Rouge. My bartender who looks like James Wisniewski and his crew were knee deep in pub food and sheer Habs hype. They played a pre-game playlist to calm the fans, then hyped them with the sounds of Queen and Van Halen. Even Arcade Fire is now part of the sports anthem.
We were all nervous. Could the Canadiens win one game in Boston? The microscope was on the goaltending duel. Tim Thomas redeemed himself this season with the best goals-against-average. While he hasn’t had much playoff luck he, is the lucky one compared to Price who hasn’t won a playoff game since 2008 and has to live up to the heroics of Jaroslav Halak.
The bar was tense, it must have been extreme in Boston. Who was going to score the first goal to break the ice? Captain Brian Gionta did so on Montreal’s first shot early in the 1st period. Now we can relax and drink up.
Good news, Scott Gomez remembered to show up as he assisted. It was a fast paced game with Boston taking shot after shot on Price who was in the zone making save after save. Ryan White did an excellent job taking Andrei Kostitsyn’s slot when he took a hit off Zdeno Chara. Habs fans watched Chara like a hawk, seeing what dirty move he’d do this time (we all know what he did to Pacioretty). He was waling on Tomas Plekenec. So when does hitting someone in the head count as a clean shot?
The Habs continued playing great on special teams and even shutting down Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand, defenseman Brent Sopel eased pressure off of Price by taking a few shots of his own. Next to me, everyone was taking shots of Jagermeister as a one goal lead can still be scary. It helped that the Wisniewski bartender was a better color commentator than Bob Cole from the CBC. Gomez to Gionta again and the stressed is relieved. Habs win!
This puts a rest to the ones who thought Boston would sweep. The shutout was the icing on the cake for Price who exorcised some playoff demons and gave fans more confidence in him. “Jaro who?”
Game 2 will have Boston playing a lot tougher, more shots onto Price. What the Habs got to do now is create more scoring opportunities and hope that regular scorers like Plekanec, Cammelleri, even PK Subban can take a shot on Thomas. It’ll be tense, however it just got a little less stressful. This does answer some questions.
Shout out of game one: Hab Mathieu Darche and other NHLers taking part in the NHLPA beard-a-thon where their playoff beards are being used to draw pledges for money for the Heart and Stroke foundation. Even fans can raise money by growing some great beards, I love beards. for more info check out www.beardathon.ca.