The Curtain Falls

That’s that. Habs gone after five games, losing 6-1 to the Ottawa Senators, and now what are we supposed to do? Cheer for another team?

It’s a game of inches, and if Colby Armstrong had hit the back of the net instead of the post on a shorthanded breakaway, the boys would have tied it at two and who knows what would have happened. But shortly after, Ottawa scored while shorthanded and the death knell was sounded for the bleu, blanc et rouge.

I hope all those Sens fans who used to be good Habs fans are happy.

Now it’s all over. Lockers will be cleaned out, goodbyes will be said, and guys will go north, south, east, and west. And we’re left floundering and scratching ourselves and flicking channels with a tired remote.

I hate when this happens, and I wish they’d quit doing this to us. Habs eliminations are always such a downer. And if it’s bad for us, imagine what hard-core Leaf fans must go through.

It’s not a surprise, I suppose, that the team fell short. Serious cracks began in April, when a key defenceman went down, and goaltending, without warning, became surprisingly inept.

On April 6, in a game against those dastardly Bruins, with just ten games remaining, Alexei Emelin decided to put himself in the way of a human freight train named Milan Lucic, and just like that, was lost for the season. With Emelin gone, the team suddenly became softer and less of a danger for approaching enemy forwards, and a team becoming softer in the last month of the season before playoffs is pretty well the second worst thing that could happen.

The first would be mediocre goaltending.

Carey Price’s goals-against soared, and his save percentage dropped as the season wound down. And as Price’s play dipped, the team in front did too. Even now there’s an all-points bulletin out for Michael Ryder, missing in action, along with David Desharnais, who wasn’t much help at all over the final stretch.

Some players were disappointments, the team’s month-long collapse was a disappointment, and the elimination is a disappointment. But they gave us such great hockey for two and a half months, they were exciting and so much fun to watch, and absolute light years from the dismal bunch of a year ago.

The kids Gallagher and Galchenyuk became key guys, and Brandon Prust showed what a true team player is with his willingness to stand up to bigger foes. Prust also helped guide the kids along, and was just a terrific and inspirational addition. Thank you New York.

And of course P.K. Subban is magnificent. There’s no denying.

The future is bright for the Habs, and I’m proud of them. Second best in the Eastern Conference, fourth in the entire league. A complete turnaround from a year ago.

So many great nights, in such a short period of time, beginning on Jan. 19th, and ending now as they bow out to the Ottawa Senators, a team that is mighty lucky they had a tremendous goalie keeping them in it.

The Only Random Note of the Night:

If you’re ever looking for something to read, I’m here year-round and have been for five and a half years now. I think it could be a fine way for you to spend quality time on the toilet, for example. And don’t forget, my site is rated by my wife as the best in the world. So how could you go wrong?

Thanks to everyone for riding the Habs train with me this season. It was mostly fantastic. But again I remind you – I’m not going anywhere, so c’mon back.

 

26 thoughts on “The Curtain Falls”

  1. Hey Dennis, You are correct in saying there is no use in deliberating what could have been. What could have was a very deferent issue ,I wont go there though, good luck to the Sens, I said before this thing got underway that the winner of this series was going to the final.

  2. It’s almost a relief that it’s over. WE had a fair exciting team this year. Now we can follow Bergevin as he tries to delete and add. More later-work calls me.

  3. I’m taking this loss remarkably well. I think what’s helping me is that I know this is the first step of a big rebuild and that we have some good people in the club now who actually give a shit. If we still had Gauthier I think we’d be royally screwed but I think we’re in good hands here.

    That being said, I knew this was going to be a loss. First we had the screwjob of last game and I just knew it wasn’t going our way – too many injuries, bad coaching decisions, sub-par goaltending, guys out of gas…it just wasn’t in the cards. Feel bad for those who shelled out a fortune for tickets last night though.

    I am bummed out about having to wait all damn summer for them to come back. But this summer should be interesting: it’s supposed to be a vintage draft and we have a bunch of picks and trade deadline. MB will do something and I can’t wait to see it.

    I just hope and pray Boston doesn’t win the Cup again. It’ll make me sick.

  4. DK, I thought they would take the game at home, but I’m afraid I just couldn’t see them taking three in a row. They gave us a great season after last years stinker, a little subtractions here and some astute additions there and this will be a team others will not relish playing against!
    les Canadiens sont la!!!!

  5. Remember how Jaroslav Halak stole a couple of series for us in 2010?

    This time the Sens Halaked us with their own number 41.

  6. We all should have seen this loss coming, what with the way the team played down the stretch. That said, Montreal outplayed Ottawa in three of first four games of the series, yet it managed to win only one game, due to a hot goalie and utterly incompetent work by the zebras. This team does appear to have turned a corner, but now there are questions, such as who stays and goes. While all of the talk seems to have focused on Tomas Kaberle getting bought out, personally, I’d rather see that “honour” given to David Desharnais, who wasn’t great even before he received his contract extension, and who then vanished completely once he received it. Frankly, he’s receiving second line center money, but he played like a fourth liner at best. To be even more blunt, he played like Scott Gomez. Michael Ryder will almost certainly not be re-signed after he too vanished down the stretch and in the playoffs (unless he is willing to sign for a reasonable price). I’ve already talked about Keberle. Davis Drewiske is a UFA, but I can see the team bringing him back, mainly because he is a physical presence, and I don’t think that someone is going to throw a boatload of money at him. I’d like to see even more kids brought up, such as Louis Leblanc. Time to find out if the kid merited that first round draft choice selection!

    One thing I could definitely have done without: Getting ragged on by Leafs, Bruins and Flyers (!!) fans over the Habs’ quick playoff exit. Sens fans, for the most part, were pretty gracious……….

  7. Oh, and Paul Maclean was much more classy in his series-ending comments than he was during the series.

  8. To me the Habs should double down their effort to develop from within through the draft. You have some great prospects in Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu for example. Galchenyuk is a real gem to build around .My god he is only 19. Do not let the Claude Giroux’s in your own backyard get away..

    Also size is really important up front in the league. Look at the L.A -St Louis series ….the forwards are massive…its like the clash of the gladiators…

    The Habs success has be speedy counterattack with back support from what is supposed to be the best goalie in the world….If Price is off the Habs are dead…

    Now I must concentrate on how the hell my leafs can beat the Bruins tonight….god they are pest to play against

  9. Derry, maybe if they were healthy, and maybe if Price was excellent, they could have gone deep. But maybe they’re just a bit too small.

  10. Peter Hab, it is kind of a relief. It can be very painful to be a Habs fan. Can’t wait for next season. The kids will be a year older for example.

  11. Darth, for the most part, they did us proud. But everything caught up to them, which is what happens in playoffs. The postseason is so different than the regular season. A winning team is built for the long haul. We need some fine tuning.

  12. Mike, their goalie was better than ours, and losing Emelin and then Eller really hurt. We’ll have lots of fun watching them in the years to come. I just wish they’d hurry up and win it all. 20 years is already ridiculous.

  13. They did, Danno. It was their goaltender only. We outplayed them in several games. I don’t think Ottawa will go far.

  14. Ian, around here, hockey fans won’t be giving me the business because most are Canucks fans so they don’t dare. Yes, all those tweaks to be made. Ryder will be gone I think. Desharnais needs a tongue-lashing. Kaberle’s toast. And Louis Leblanc has never turned the big corner. I can’t wait to see how Gallagher and Galchenyuk progress now with a season under their belts. And can P.K. win a bunch of Norris’ in a row? And was Max nursing an injury? Will Tinordi and Beaulieu win regular jobs? Is it possible Gorges could be moved? It’ll be an interesting summer and fall. And one last question – will the Awards show in Vegas be as embarrassing as it always is?

  15. Hobo, it was sure more fun than last year. Gallagher was a gem. And they were second best in the east. Not too shabby.

  16. Leaf Fan, that’s it for sure. If the goalie is mediocre, the team won’t win. And that’s what happened, along with the string of injuries etc. But the goaltending stands out more than anything else for me.

  17. Hey Dennis,

    I guess for now you can write some more great articles about Ottawa and start cheering for the Sens. It might only be for another week or so, once we meet up with Crosby.

    Robin

  18. Very disappointing end to a pretty good year.

    Injuries, goaltending, leadership, I could go on but won;t. I’m too tired. I am glad it isover. Ican concentrate on other things. Next year people. Iloved reading your comments. Maybe next year I will be more positive.

    Even though Price sucked, I think we need to build around him as he matured. Budaj sucked onle twice but when it counted and he wasn’t there.

    The D wasn’t there either. We should have know at the beginning of the season when lost a ton of games after leading by two goals or more. Many team were able to come back way too often.

    We need a few more big bodies up front.

    DD sucked. Lots sucked. It was embarrassing but what can we do? Onward to next year and more hopes.

    have a great summer everyone.

  19. Let’s not forget, Dennis, that Leblanc is still young. It took Guy Lafleur four years to “find himself”. Now, that’s NOT to suggest that Leblanc will become the next Lafleur; I am just suggesting that some players take more time than others to mature. I agree that Michael Ryder is likely going to end up somewhere else, unless his late-season and playoff vanishing act scare off a lot of potential suitors. The problem is that this is not not a team with a lot of offensive depth as it is.

    As I wrote initially, there are a lot of questions now. Who is the real MaxPac? Is it the dynamic power forward we saw last season, or was it the wildly inconsistent, enigmatic forward we saw in 2013? Was last year an aberration for DD, or was this year just a truly awful season for him? When will Alexei Emelin come back (given that the swelling in his knee STILL hasn’t gone down enough for him to even have surgery, I think that we have to face the unpleasant fact that he may be gone for much of next season as well.)? Who can come up from the minors and help immediately (let’s not forget, Hamilton was the worst team in the AHL this season, so while there is SOME talent there, Marc Bergevin has a lot of work to do in rebuilding the farm team–I blame that on Pierre Gauthier, who traded away a LOT of draft picks)? What is the story with Carey Price? Was the groin injury that kept him out of Game Five really a problem that bothered him all season, as some have suggested, or is the problem that he is either not as good as advertised (or that he is, simply put, a head case)? If the groin bothered him all season, that would certainly explain a lot of his struggles this season, as lateral movement is so important for any goalie, even more so for one who plays the style that Price plays. Will the team get any “bigger”? I don’t think that we need a bunch of “Incredible Hulks” out there (look at the Detroit Red Wings over the past 20 years, who are in my mind the NHL’s “model franchise”. They are not particularly big, but they aren’t small, either).

    So many questions need to be answered………..

  20. Robin, I just wish the Expos were still around. As for hockey, I’m cheering for…….hmm. Nobody.

  21. Ian, I didn’t know that about Emelin. Now I’m worried. I agree with you that a team of giants isn’t what we need. Just a few here and there. That’s why I liked it when Tinordi found a spot, although I would have preferred him to be more rugged. Leblanc, I don’t know. He was a favourite because he’s a hometown boy, and it would’ve been such a great thing to have new star from town show up. But he’s been very quiet. As for Price, we’ve seen him at his worst off and on, and his best too. I was talking about him today to Luci. He’s 25, and we know that sometimes goalies can really take some time before they blossom. Johnny Bower was well over 30 for example. But Price went from the odds-on favourite to be Canada’s goalie in the upcoming Olympics, to having some of the worst numbers in the league. I don’t understand this at all. To me it’s more than a simple slump. He’s been extremely mediocre, some games absolutely lousy. And Budaj is a decent backup at best. He’ll never be a first-string goalie. So really, if the goaltending doesn’t get fixed, we can be as healthy and as big and as fast as can be, but we’ll still go nowhere. It’s a big concern.

  22. Ah, that’s kind of my point (about Price). If he was bothered by the groin problem all season, that would certainly have affected every aspect of his game.

  23. Ian, for sure. If he had an ongoing groin problem, he couldn’t move nearly as well. I hope that was the problem.

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