They may have lost the series to the Philadelphia Flyers, but they won in so many other ways. They won fans of non-fans and those with a strong dislike for the Habs, and, I suppose, many who previously said they cheer for anybody but the Montreal Canadiens.
And of course, they had us, their fans, and we walked with our heads held high as they blew us away on so many beautiful nights, and the odd day.
Those who never believed began to believe, as this team, who were scoffed at in the beginning, made their way well into the third round. They garnered respect and admiration from near and afar, and although it’s disappointing that it’s the end of road, I’m as proud as proud can be.
It’s only the beginning and now we know. Now we know the Montreal Canadiens are an excellent team, one to be excited about, one that can go even deeper with some tweaking and a key addition here and there.
We were never allowed to see the real team for most of the regular season. Someone was always hurt. One after another they dropped like flies, and the team stalled and sputtered, backwards and forwards, and only just crept into the playoffs by the skin of their teeth.
We didn’t know they would give us so much magic in this year’s playoffs, but they delivered in spades. The Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins bit the dust in what bordered on Harry Houdini slight-of-hand or a present day Miracle on Ice.
Oh, those Habs. They made us hold our breath, stomp and cheer, and depending on the day or hour, we were either happy, sad, excited, or ready to throw a brick through the TV. We were on top of the world or on pins and needles for much of the past five weeks. They were king of the hill, and we went with them in delirious fashion every step of the way.
On the back of Jaroslav Halak they rode, with Mike Cammalleri leading the charge up front, and visions of past glory danced in our heads as this little team that could slayed the giants and made us cheer like mad. It was 1993 again, and 1986, and the late seventies, and it was even before that. It was all those years when the Habs were mighty, and we got a little taste of it again.
We’d hungered for a playoff contender for so long, and this underdog bunch, the ones who didn’t stand a chance, gave it to us.
They gave us so much to cheer about, and now we have next year to be so excited and optimistic.
The Habs are a good, proud, character team who ended in the final three, with 27 other teams sitting on the sidelines watching and wishing they were doing what they were doing. We didn’t have Andrei Markov for most of the post-season, and it proved a terrible loss. But there are no excuses. Philadelphia played a strong series, and they showed Montreal that there’s still a few holes to fill before the Canadiens can hoist a trophy or two.
Maybe we need to get bigger. Maybe some players who performed admirably during the regular season but were nowhere to be found in the playoffs might need to be looked at closely. But we have young PK Subban, a delight if there ever was one, and with a full season under his belt, he’ll be one of the key guys in the big charge a year from now.
The Montreal Canadiens of 2009-10 have made us proud, and I can’t wait for them to get going again.
Montreal scored the huge first goal (Brian Gionta), but disaster struck when a collision between Mike Richards, Jaroslav Halak, and Roman Hamrlik resulted in a key shorthanded goal for Richards and the Flyers that tied the game, and that was a tough one.
Scott Gomez tallied in the third to narrow the margin, and when Chris Pronger took a four-minute high-sticking penalty, Canadiens had a huge chance to tie it, grab the all-elusive momentum, and solve Michael Leighton again. But they couldn’t get it done.
Philadelphia 4, Habs 2.
Thank you Habs.
And one more Random Note:
When you’re in front of your computer throughout the summer, please take five minutes and stop by and visit this little blog. I haven’t missed a day since November of 2007 and I don’t plan on it now. There’s still lots to talk about. About lots of good shit.