Welcome to Montreal, where the city bleeds Bleu Blanc et Rouge. I took a pre-game stroll in the heart of downtown where the pulse of hockey beats loud. Fire trucks hanging hockey flags on the back, people walking around in red jerseys and kids playing around Centennial Plaza excited about the idea of a “25th Cup this year.” It’s a great feeling, even “Joey” the scalper’s best ticket deal was $300 for a pair of upper seats. All is great, for now.
Yes, the Habs were up 2-0 however there is one stat no one ever brings up. In the 2006 playoffs, they were up 2-0 against Carolina when Captain Saku Koivu took a stick in the eye and thus began the beginning of the collapse. Carolina would win the series, then the Stanley Cup. Yes, it ‘s not a lovely stat but to be realistic, I’m surprised that we even won the first two games.
Before the game I thought to myself that Boston looks hungry and Zdeno Chara is probably hydrated by now. As the city embraced the hometown vibe, my game 3 viewing would be at my closest neighborhood bar: Next Door in NDG.
The bartender assumed it was going to be quiet being a Monday night, but in an instant the bar was packed. We feasted on nachos and perogies, a great playoff snack, as we watched the pre-game ceremony. One thing I give credit to Montreal for: they know how to make a classic entrance with legendary Canadien Jean Beliveau and a little kid in full Canadiens gear, mixing history and the future all in one moment.
Boston knew that the first goal was important and David Krejci took the opportunity when the Habs defense wasn’t looking. Jaroslav Spacek was one second too late to help Carey Price. The Habs were not playing the same as in the first two games. They were playing weak hockey in front of their biggest critics ever, a sold-out crowd of 21 273.
It’s sometimes tough being a Habs fan. There will be highs and lows. Then there’s dealing with “fans” at the bar who give Carey Price sh*t for clearing the puck which ended up becoming Rich Peverley’s first goal. One mistake and there was sheer Price hate. The rest of the period he held it together however “fans” were begging him to stay in the net.
Back at the bar, there was plenty of yelling and frustration (and that was just me). Thinking at first putting Kostitsyn in instead of Weber was a mistake but he redeemed himself with his first goal. Good news, Tomas Plekanec, after several attempts, notched a goal. The real Canadiens came back in the third however it was too late.
Not to worry fans and “fans”, it’s only one game. There was word that the team was a little too relaxed before the game, Carey Price called them out as being too “chill”. Coach Martin said they win as a team and lose at a team (so no looking for anyone to blame).
For game 4, it’s keeping in mind that Boston can come back if they play too loose. It’s learning from mistakes and hoping Weber will play (Poulliot will be benched for playing invisible). It’s all about playing smart with the defense taking some work off Price and it’s about getting the first goal (the key so far in this series).
Boston is currently practicing in Lake Placid facility where the US beat Russia in the 1980 Olympics (known as the “Miracle on Ice”). They hope to feed on that emotion, however Montreal is notorious for miracles of their own against Boston. In the meantime, the Habs should remain less relaxed and the fans should chill for a minute. It was one game, it’s not over yet.
Shout out of Game 3: Shout out to the Montreal Juniors for their excellent season. They were eliminated last weekend in their playoffs, however had a great season with Habs prospect Louis Leblanc. The future looks good for the Habs.