One thing’s for sure. Almost as sure as death and taxes. If Montreal doesn’t win Wednesday night at the Bell Centre, they can start polishing off their putters because there’s no way they’ll be able to come back from being down three games to one. Not against Washington. Not against a team with big-time snipers and a bench full of big bodies.
We’ve seen that it takes every Hab playing their best hockey just to win a period, and even winning a period doesn’t mean winning the game. If it’s not one thing it’s another that has led the Canadiens to fall behind in this series: questionable penalties, deserved penalties, occasional, less-than-stellar goaltending, erratic passing, bad-luck bounces, big chances that miss the net, getting scored on with the man advantage, and not scoring at even strength. And worst of all, they’re unable to hold a late-game lead, something which has dogged them throughout the entire year.
If the scorers are scoring, the plumbers aren’t, and as the regular season drew to a close, it was the plumbers scoring and the scorers not. And the Habs are being knocked off the puck by the bigger Caps, which makes me wonder why Bob Gainey brought in so many small, albeit skilled players, from elsewhere. Gainey’s fought the playoff wars, he knows what it takes, and small guys usually don’t beat big guys. It’s the law of physics. He was in the post-season 22 times – 16 as a player and 6 as coach and he’d be the first to tell you how important bigger players are.
So again, I ask: Why did Gainey stock his lineup with small players? It’s the one nagging question I have for the man I admire and respect so much.
But having said all that, if the Montreal Canadiens can get it done on Wednesday night and even this difficult series, then who knows. And if they can somehow take out the Caps completely and continue on, maybe Bob Gainey was right after all.
Here’s hoping the Canadiens, and Habs fans everywhere, sport huge smiles when the final siren sounds on Wednesday night.