Habs Even It Up. Gary Bettman Takes a Tranquilizer

Somehow, when we were least expecting it, the Montreal Canadiens became a playoff team. And very soon, they’ll make believers of everyone. It hasn’t happened yet, but it will. All the team has to do is keep doing what they’re doing, and that’s winning. Gary Bettman and NBC are sick to their stomachs, but Habs fans are thrilled.

The series between the little engine that could and the defending Stanley Cup champions is now, like crazy magic, tied after a juicy 3-1 win in enemy territory. And it was done with a bunch of blue collar defencemen rolling up their sleeves after losing the one star the Habs have on the blueline, Andrei Markov. Everyone – forwards and defence -chipped in in this crucial game two, and they got it done.

And everyone who thinks the Canadiens will fall flat anytime soon and are overmatched by Sidney Crosby and company are slowly-but-surely being proved wrong. Alex Ovechkin and the Caps couldn’t do it. Why does everyone think the Pens will be too much?

These factory workers, minus Andrei Markov and Jaroslav Spacek, worked hard and stuck to what Jacques Martin asked them to do, which was to be patient and not get caught out of position. They got great goaltending from Jaroslav Halak after an off-night in game one, and maybe best of all, penalty-killers kllled a slew of penalties and made Sidney Crosby almost invisible.

This team, with hard-core labour which stamps them as blue-collar, along with Halak standing tall, has a chance to knock off the mighty Pittsburgh Penguins. Just like they did to the other mighty team. It’s enough to make us shake our heads in amazement. Heck, I can almost see people taking them seriously if that happened.

They started slow on this night, and it began to make me wonder why I raced home from work to see it. In fact, it looked like the Penguins might score at will. But they didn’t. They ran into blocked shots, great goaltending, and a team that clogs up the ice and frustrates. Before our very eyes, the Montreal Canadiens have become the New Jersey Devils.

But I’m not complaining. They’re doing what they need to do to win games. All of a sudden I’m a Jacques Martin fan. Maybe he’s the best coach in the league after all! Keep doing this, Jacques, and we’ll love you like a brother.

Random Notes:

Brian Gionta had one goal and Mike Cammellari had two. Two small guys who weren’t supposed to be effective in the playoffs, as the experts told us all year. 

If the game wasn’t so important and close, it would’ve been almost funny how Marc-Andre Bergeron screws up in his own end. I like the guy, he’s got the big shot and all that, but somehow he’s got to unscrew his head and screw it back on properly.

Onward to Montreal. And will some great doctor please step forward and fix Spacek’s illness that has kept him out of the lineup for six games now.

I had to watch the game later on because I was working and keeping the economy going while you were lounging about on the couch.

29 thoughts on “Habs Even It Up. Gary Bettman Takes a Tranquilizer”

  1. With the ridiculous afternoon hockey, CBC is now showing Bon Cop, Bad Cop, complete with Harry Buttman and Tom Berry.

    I thought I hit a snag in my plan to be seeded #8. I wasn’t 100% convinced that Montreal could shut down Crosby and the Penguins before but I am now. We just need to repeat today’s game 3 more times.

    And now Craig Adams is awaiting a phone call to be told not to show up in Montreal.

  2. I really enjoyed this game Dennis. It went to my mom and dad’s to watch it with them and we had a really good time celebrating our victory.

    Check out the standings for the playoffs. Halak is leading with most wins for goaltenders and is second for save % — and Cammalleri is leading for scorers. And he is only 3 points behind Crosby in the points race. Not too shabby!

    http://www.nhl.com/ice/statshome.htm

    Did you see Crosby when he flew into a temper tantrum and whacked his stick against Halak’s net? It broke into pieces and then Crosby flung it over his shoulder into the corner. Anyone else would have been called for unsportsmanlike conduct. But not Sid the Kid. Guess that’s why they call him the kid. He sure wasn’t behaving like an adult there. He’s acting like a spoiled rotten little cry-baby.

    On the other hand I think PK Subban is mature beyond his years. He is definitely Captain material. Here he is interviewed by Pierre McGuire after the game…

    http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/console?catid=15&id=68268

    You’re right about this team Dennis. Totally underestimated by the experts. They really are the Little Engine That Could.

    This team has heart. And the spark behind this team is coming from two outstanding young players — Jaroslav Halak and PK Subban.

    Halak is 24 years old and is playing like a seasonned veteran. PK is only 20 and is playing like Bobby Orr or maybe Doug Harvey.

    But they both have one thing in common. Both PK’s and Jaro’s birthdays fall on May 13th.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if they celebrated their birthdays together while advancing into the third round?

    I think they can. I think they can…

  3. Hey Dennis, I spoke with a good friend and loyal Habs fan after the first game. He told me (although being a great fan) that the Habs were done , probably a sweep.I told him how the Habs were tired for the first game and it would be different the next time around. I cant rub salt in anyones eyes, but we played a great game.We were tottaly outshot but made it through with a great effort from all(well what has happened to Kostitsyn and Plekanecs) and now back to the Bell Centre. GO HABS GO.

  4. Derry, you got it. they were burnt out the first game. The playoffs is more than game one. You tell your friend to have more faith.

  5. Chris, imagine if we lost another D with the Bergeron thing? Anyway, he’s fine, thank goodness. And your plan is the best plan in the history of plans.

  6. Dennis, my plans aren’t going exactly as I planned but I’ll take it. I was expecting to be playing the Sabres now. I didn’t see the B’s finding some scoring and upsetting the Sabres.
    Then I was expecting the Habs to come out strong in game 1 and win on pure adrenaline. They did play well enough to win, it was just the PK that killed them. It was in game 2 that I was expecting them to come crashing down. Instead today they picked up their game and the PK and shut them down just like they did to the Caps.

  7. Chris, it’s okay to be slightly off the prediction now. But when I own the team and you’re in the executive box, you have have to be more dead on with things. That’s how you get Christmas bonus’. But it’s working out anyway. Keep up the good work. Toe Blake said, “Predictions are for Gypsies, Christopher, and Danno.”

  8. Dennis, better tell Mr. Bettman to buy his pharmaceuticals in bulk. It’s going to be some unexpected winners as the rounds progress.

    Go Habs Go!!!

  9. A game that they didn’t deserve to win, but that’s what they’ve been doing; stealing games. At this point, we’re gonna take every win we can.

    Cammalleri’s goals were beauties, first goal, he kicked it to himself, amazing hand eye co-ordination, the guy really knows and loves to score goals.
    He’s only one goal behind Joe Pavelski for playoff lead in goals.

    Halak has been so incredible there truly aren’t any words to describe it, that what i call a clutch player in their lifetime, shades of ’93.

    What’s the difference between Sidney Crosby and every other man in the world? The only stick Crosby has is the one on the ice.

  10. I like that Cammalleri. He’s working hard and getting good shots. That’s what wins games.

    I think it’s important to note that this is note the same team we had in 2002. We are a goalie (Theodore), a center (Koivu) and then the rest of the team. Yes, goaltending has been a huge part of the run so far, and God bless Halak for all he’s done, but without the work of Subban, Cammalleri, Lapierre, Markov, Gill, Gionta and a whole list of others, we simply wouldn’t be where we are right now. It’s a team-effort, the definition of a team effort! And great coaching. Am I the only one who thinks Muller will be running the bench a few years down the road?

  11. DK, it was a great team effort & win, but now a have to rant a bit. It’s one thing to call the Leaf games & be a homer but if I could have some how transported through my TV to the broadcast booth I would have shoved that microphone of Bob Coles so far down his throat it would be coming out the other end! Cripes it’s a Canadian team but to listen to that ass Cole we did’nt even belong on the same ice as the Pens. I just can’t stand that a**hole. Danno you are right on about Crosby not only could the broken part of his stick injured Halak but also the spear he flung behind him! Two teir justice by the KGBettman crew! GO HABS GO!!
    Les Canadiens Sont La !!!!

  12. The NHL will impose no disciplinary action on Craig Adams for hitting Marc-Andre Bergeron from behind late in the game.

  13. Of course not, Danno. It’s Montreal, the Rodney Dangerfield of hockey teams.

  14. Mike, I so much agree with you. According to Bob, Montreal shouldn’t be on the ice with the marvelous Penguins. It really seems like he’s another who doesn’t want them there. It’s going to take the Habs to finish off Pittsburgh before they’ll get any credit at all. And if they make it as far as the final, everyone will say they have no chance against a western team.

  15. Good points, David. Montreal’s getting good old fashined hard work from everyone. The guy who puzzles me though is Andrei Kostitsyn. What’s up with him? He’s almost a non-factor.

  16. Crosby’s been a bit of a whiner in this series, Phil. Maybe he’s only mature when things are going his way. And if Montreal continues to play the system they’ve used against the Caps and now the Pens, Crosby’s going to be wailing to his momma.

  17. Diane, maybe we can get Bettman strung out on crack and he’ll end up on the street!

  18. Those in the anti-Habs regiment can all at least agree that Halak is the star of these playoffs, let alone his own team. I can’t believe I said they should start Price. My bad.

    Both are starting goaltenders for the NHL for sure, but Halak is henceforth The Habs starting goalie, no ifs ands or buts.

    I think these playoffs are proof that we can be fine with one strong goalie. Let Price get some ice elsewhere, and maybe get a nice strong forward for him.

  19. David. That sounds like political suicide to me.

    And I must confess as well that I thought Price should have gotten the start on Sunday. My thinking was to rest Halak so he could hit the reset button and come back strong like what happened in Washington.

    But no rest for the wicked. Good thing too.

  20. You know Dennis you mentioned that you are now a JM fan so I have a notion in the form of a question for you. Who is coaching the Mtl Canadiens? From the first round everyone gave Muller the credit for the PK. After the second game Muller again was credited with making the adjustment from game one. On several occasions when the camera has shown the bench JM tended to look a little befuddled while you often saw Muller talking to a player. So has Muller slowly taken over guiding this team? How do you explain the team play in the last 7 games after a season of inconsistency? Maybe they have finally gelled into the team BG envisioned or maybe Ol’ Capt Kirk has beamed into a more prominent role at the helm.

  21. John, I can see what you’re saying, but as far as I’m concerned, I think it’s a difference in styles. At game-time, JM seems to be quiet, but you know he’s got a huge list of notes on the go. Muller is always talking to the boys, giving feedback, telling guys what they need to do. I think Montreal needs to decide what style they want in their bench. I’m a Muller fan all the way. But it might just be his slick haircut.

    I wonder what Bob Gainey is thinking of his team right now?

  22. DJ – I don’t think Muller has taken over the team, but I think he’s been a tremendously important part of it. I just believe that Martin has this conservative strategy that is working. But Muller was a great two-way player in his day so I’m sure he’s adding a lot. He can also probably relate to the guys because he was a player himself. But still – now you’ve got me thinking.

  23. It’s funny you know. About the experts.

    Gainey took alot of crap because of the guys he went out and got last year…

    But… Stanley Cup champs?
    Gionta, Gomez, Moen, Gill… Spacek was in the finals…. Cammalleri has the heart of a champ.

    Thank God Gionta and Cammalleri don’t listen to the experts who likely told them at every level that they’re just to small.

    It’s all about work ethic and using whatever you got the best way you can.

    Gionta goes into corners with the likes of Brooks Orpik and comes out with the puck. He’s out worked guys along the boards all year… some of which he stands 6-7-8 inches shorter than…

    I had watched him some in his NJ years…. but wow… what a hockey player.

    Habs deserve some credit. You don’t do what they did to Washington in 7 games as a fluke. And they looked like the team that “stole” (or won) Washington in that second game VS the Penguins.

    Tonight shall be interesting…. the Bell Center will be rockin’.

  24. There’s something about these “experts” that rubs me the wrong way too. It seems like the Habs don’t get much credit from most of them. Montreal’s going to have to win the whole thing before these people start throwing serious praise at them. And it really seems like Bob Cole likes Pittsburgh much more than the Habs. All your points are dead-on.

  25. Good point Dennis… I thought Bob Cole had barely a positive thing to say about the Habs until it was evident they were gonna win the game… I think he forced himself to blurt out something positive about Halak.

    But really… who wouldn’t… if you’ve watched any of the Habs games in these playoffs and aren’t in total flight from reality say a positive thing about Halak.
    ;-)

  26. That’s right, Yves. Halak has been unreal. Hope he had a nice rest these last 40 hours or so.

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