About last night …

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Who would you rather see at the Bell Centre Tuesday night, Senators or Leafs?
Those are the possibilities, pending Ottawa’s game in Boston on Sunday evening.
After watching the Canadiens easy win on Saturday night, does it really matter?
“On est prêt pour les séries,” Michel Therrien said in his postgame media scrum. “N’inquiétez pas.”
For the benefit of unilingual Canadians – who were doomed to watch Saturday night’s game on Leaf-loving Hockey Night in Canada – the coach said:
“We’re ready for the playoffs. Don’t worry.”
Hit it, Bobby McFerrin.
The last game of the regular season gave Canadiens’ fans ample reason to stop worrying and be very happy.

Anything that brings sorrow to the set of Hockey Night in Canada is cause for celebration, of course.

But the 4-1 dismantling of the Leafs was emphatic. And if the game was a harbinger of the first-round playoff series they’re praying for at HNIC, the Canadiens and their fans can look forward to Tuesday night with some cautious optimism.

Let’s review the happy points:

• James Reimer, who will face Carey Price in a Canadiens-Leafs series, was beaten fur times on 23 shots and watched the last 17 minutes of the game from the Toronto bench.

• Playing in their own barn, the Leafs were held to ONE SHOT in the second period. And seven over the game’s first 40 minutes.

• The Canadiens’ recently inept penalty-killers went 6-for-7 … and the only goal they allowed was a great shot by Phil Kessel.

• The Canadiens were outhit 45-39, but at least one check was recorded by every player in a white jersey – with the exception of Raphael Diaz, who has other virtues.

• The kid line was spectacular. Lars Eller had a goal and two assists, went 8-5 on faceoffs, played 4:27 on the PK and had six hits to lead the team. Brendan Gallagher had a goal and an assist, Alex Galchenyuk had an assist. The line was plus-8 on the game … and still played less than 10 minutes at even strength.

• Jarred Tinordi played almost 15 minutes (including 5:34 on the PK), had four hits and was plus-2.

• Andrei Markov, who had an assist in Winnipeg, added a goal and an assist against the Leafs and was plus-2 while playing a sensible 19 minutes – including a non-taxing 5:36 on the power-play and only a few seconds shorthanded.

• And Therrien continues to push the right buttons.

The coach started Peter Budaj, moved Rene Bourque to right-wing on the David Desharnais line, reunited Gallagher with Eller and Galchenyuk, managed Brandon Prust’s minutes and saw to it that his team kept its cool after falling behind 1-0.

The jury will be out on the goaltender move until we see how Carey Price plays in the postseason opener. But Therrien protected his number-one guy and gave a 10th start to a backup who has been exemplary – Budaj is 8-1-1 – this season.

Therrien said the Canadiens had played “playoff atmosphere” games in Winnipeg and Toronto and responded well to the pressure on both occasions. The easier schedule in the final week of the regular season also allowed time for some decent practices in which, Therrien said, the Canadiens worked on some basics.

We saw that work reflected in the improved PK – although some of that might have been due to the Leafs’ ineptitude. Who knew Tyler Bozak was such a valuable player?

We also saw it in the swarming puck pursuit and rapid transition that characterized the Canadiens play through the first 40 games of the season.

Gaston Therrien showed an example during his whiteboard segment on L’Antichambre. The sequence begins with Tinordi burying Mikhail Grabovski. Josh Gorges scoops up the dislodged puck, while Eller and Galchenyuk are nearby to begin the breakout that culminated in Eller’s goal.

Terrific team defence, lightning-fast transition – qualities that were missing in action during the Canadiens’ recent suckitude.

For one night, against a team that had beaten them 6-0 and 5-1 this season, your Montreal Canadiens looked like they’re ready for the playoffs.

The defence has been bolstered by the return of Diaz, the promotion of Tinordi, the excellence of P.K. Subban and the possible resuscitation of Markov. If the blueline revival continues, Price will not face the high-percentage shooting gallery in which he struggled during the Canadiens’ slump.

Michael Ryder had a rough night in Toronto. He took a bad penalty and was demoted to the fourth line, with Brandon Prust joining Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta.

But Ryder has 20 career playoff goals. I think he’ll bounce back on Tuesday.

The Canadiens will open the playoffs with a lineup that includes three rookies: Gallagher, Galchenyuk and Tinordi.

Can anyone remember this happening in the long and glorious history of hockey’s most successful franchise?

The young core of the team suggests an imminent return to glory.

Starting next week?

•  •  •

The Canadiens had eight players with 10 or more goals this season, tying Pittsburgh for the league lead … Alex Galchenyuk topped the team’s +/- at plus-14. His pal Brendan Gallagher was plus-10. Brandon Prust was plus-11, P.K. plus-12 … The Canadiens won more games on the road (15) than they did at home (14) … Andrei Markov, Josh Gorges, Brian Gionta, Francis Bouillon and Galchenyuk played all 48 games … Peter Budaj had more wins than Jaro Halak this season.

•  •  •

 

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1,099 Comments

  1. Habcouver says:

    I love being a Habs fan. Best team, best fans, best website HIO!

    Waiting patiently for #25

  2. Strummer says:

    .

    ______________________________________________________
    “It’s just an opinion – I could be wrong”

  3. Rugger says:

    Last to Division title, so what will be the excuse to not give MT the Jack Adams? (and Gally the Caulder and Subban the Norris?)

    • Adidess says:

      This will help MT the most for his Coach of the Year bid. We had few changes in the off-season and no dominant player (a la Crosby, Malkin, Stamkos, Ovechkin) to speak of. Easy to argue coaching made the biggest difference in achieving 1st place in the division.

      I’d be shocked if Gally doesn’t win as well.

  4. punkster says:

    1st in the division, 2nd in the conference, 4th in the league.

    How did all the experts get it so wrong?

    ***SUBBANGIN’ NOW BABY!!!***

    • Whoa whoa ya’ll! Do we forget so easily? The last 15 games have shown some very painful ruptures in this system? D has been a sieve, Pricer has been poor. The only bright sign is that we keep scoring. Let’s hope we don’t get banged up!

      Promote the Youth, Support From The Veterans and Remember the Heritage!

      • Adidess says:

        You should assess the team over the entirety of the regular season. Bottom line is Habs end the season in 2nd place in the East, 4th overall. That’s very good, no matter how you slice it.

    • Timo says:

      Quick – hang THAT banner at Bell.

  5. Ice Storm says:

    Playoffs are not easy versus any team.. But I’ll gladly take the Sens

  6. HabFanSince72 says:

    OK folks let me explain something to you all.

    You cannot cheer for the Bruins.

    If you want the Bruins to beat the Leafs you are cheering for Chara, Marchand, Lucic, Ferrence, Campbell (father and son), Jeremy Jacobs, McQuaid, Claude Julien.

    You’re cheering for the same team as Mike Milbury and PJ Stock.

    I mean I don’t really like Dion Phaneuf, but compared to Chara?

  7. AceMagnum says:

    Yeeeehaaa!!!

    Bruins will rout Leafs in 4

    And we shall bow out to Ottawa gracefully in 6, unless that waste of skin Price is in goal, in which case we get blitzed

  8. And my first playoff experience in Montreal went from being the long hated forever rivals who haven’t met in 34 years to the Ottawa Senators.

    Anyone want to buy my playoff package? That’s what I thought.
    Last to 2nd in the Eastern Conference, my lord that’s amazing!

    Shane Oliver
    Twitter @Sholi2000
    http://www.Sholi2000.com
    Custom Sports Figures

  9. HardHabits says:

    What a year. Winning one of the strongest divisions in hockey. Kudos to the Therrien system.

    • savethepuck says:

      4 out of 5 division teams made the playoffs. In points they were 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 7th overall. Strongest division by far.
      “They don’t hang Conference Championship Banners from the rafters here”
      Carey Price

  10. Timo says:

    Told ya. Now 4 more days to wait though. Sucks.

  11. JarryPark says:

    Congrats to our Habs. The NE Champs!!!

  12. frontenac1 says:

    That’s it amigos. Bring on the Sens! No problem, anybody but the Islanders.

  13. Danno says:

    FIRST! In the division!

    ________________________________________

    “Hey Richard, two minutes for looking so good!”
    Updates, highlights & great discussions on all things Habs

  14. Mattyleg says:

    Brooins get Booed in their last regular-season home-game!!

    Delightful.

    —Hope Springs Eternal—

    • savethepuck says:

      What a bunch of fanatics. Nothing like all Habs fans.

      “They don’t hang Conference Championship Banners from the rafters here”
      Carey Price

  15. Habcouver says:

    At least a Habs-Sens series will be a skilled contest… no goonery.

    Waiting patiently for #25

  16. HabFanSince72 says:

    It’s over.

    Sens win.

  17. savethepuck says:

    Northeast champs baby!

    “They don’t hang Conference Championship Banners from the rafters here”
    Carey Price

  18. 25insight says:

    AND THE DIVISION TITLE GOES TO………………YOUR MONTREAL CANADIENS

  19. Bill says:

    Ok think I would have preferred the Leafs.

  20. The Jackal says:

    I’m gonna be honest here.

    I am cheering for the sens for the following reasons:

    -I want CBC to eat it – their coverage of Habs vs. Leafs would be a NIGHTMARE
    -I want Boston to destroy the Leafs
    -I want Leaf fans who are wishing to play the Habs eat it too for the same reasons as CBC
    -I want the Habs to win the division
    -Lastly, while I think the Habs would beat the Leafs, us losing to them would be almost as horrible as when the Bruins won the cup – the Toronto-centric media and their obnoxious fans would be never shut up even if they got owned in the playoffs.

    ______________________
    Hockey sine stercore tauri.

    • The Jackal says:

      Haha it seems Game Centre Live is behind :D
      Looks like it is Habs vs. Sens. It will be a good series.

      ______________________
      Hockey sine stercore tauri.

  21. zorro says:

    Sens Habs it is.

  22. Habilis says:

    Division Champs!!!!

    Bring on the Sens.

  23. Clay says:

    Sens goal!!! Sweet!!! Back to work with me…

    __________________________
    ☞ “And yet not choice but habit rules the unreflecting herd.” ~ William Wordsworth ☜

  24. HabFanSince72 says:

    Rask pulled. Then Bergeron ices it on the shoot in.

  25. WhatUp says:

    Habs -Sens almost locked

  26. punkster says:

    Sens…I like.

    ***SUBBANGIN’ NOW BABY!!!***

  27. HabFanSince72 says:

    Karlsson saves a clear opportunity. Lucky Marchand’s stick didn’t break.

  28. gumper says:

    What’s our season record like against Ottawa?

    The rule is perfect: in all matters of opinion our adversaries are insane.
    Mark Twain

  29. Mattyleg says:

    FIRST in the NorthEast!!

    —Hope Springs Eternal—

  30. donmarco says:

    Bruins blow another third period. This ending could be the best possible one. 2nd overall for Habs. Confidence killer for the Bruins.

  31. zorro says:

    Ottawa will be tough to beat, all one goal games, they don’t give you much and have great goaltending. I don’t like our chance’s against them.

  32. Habcouver says:

    Let’s go Sens…
    but only for this game.

    Waiting patiently for #25

  33. Mattyleg says:

    How is Boston getting away with all those offsides??

    —Hope Springs Eternal—

  34. habs1992 says:

    terrible to see us cheering for the enemy, love gets me everytime

    I support Carey Price

  35. HabFanSince72 says:

    WHat a play by Karlsson to send it back to the other side.

  36. Habilis says:

    Isles-Pens pretty much locked in now.

  37. WhatUp says:

    hell of a finish coming – hang on to your hats

  38. Danno says:

    Pageau makes it 3-2 Sens with three minutes to go

    ________________________________________

    “Hey Richard, two minutes for looking so good!”
    Updates, highlights & great discussions on all things Habs

  39. 25insight says:

    WOOOOOHOOOOOOO HOLD ON FOR A COUPLE MINUTES

  40. frontenac1 says:

    Ho ho ! 3-2 Sens!

  41. savethepuck says:

    Huge goal. Thought Sens would fold after giving up the 2 goal lead.

    “They don’t hang Conference Championship Banners from the rafters here”
    Carey Price

  42. punkster says:

    Nice sequence leading to the goal.
    ***SUBBANGIN’ NOW BABY!!!***

  43. habs1992 says:

    3-2 Ottawa Kesha is hot

    I support Carey Price

  44. Mattyleg says:

    Otta-goal!

    —Hope Springs Eternal—

  45. Rugger says:

    I want a Bruins Shootout loss after maybe 7 or 8 rounds.

  46. Bill says:

    I have never felt so conflicted in my life as I do watching this game. Not even the night before I got married that time. I just totally don’t know which outcome I want.

  47. HabFanSince72 says:

    A foretaste of the playoffs: refs have put away their whistles. Helps the Bruins.

  48. Whatever says:

    Why do people think CBC wants Toronto Montreal match up?

    They would get to have Montreal/Ottawa on opposite nights from Toronto. They get every night ratings instead of every other night ratings. Are more Toronto fans going to tune in because it’s Montreal? They haven’t been in the playoffs for close to a decade. EVERY Leaf fan is going to tune in regardless of who they lose to.

    • showey47 says:

      Its also not like more montreal fans are going to watch cbc when they have a much better option in rds.

    • Mr. Biter says:

      But just think, thanks to Video restoration Leaf fans can think they actually won a cup after color T.V. was invented.

      Mr. Biter
      No Guts No Glory

    • savethepuck says:

      I think CBC gets 1st choice for Eastern matchups and 1st choice for Western matchups. In you scenario CBC will take Leafs Bruins and TSN would then take Ottawa Montreal..

      “They don’t hang Conference Championship Banners from the rafters here”
      Carey Price

      • Mr. Biter says:

        I only watch hockey when the Habs play. Last year got so much work done without the playoffs, interfering with the work schedule. Am much happier now that the Habs are playing and am hoping for many games. Work can now wait.

        Mr. Biter
        No Guts No Glory

    • Adidess says:

      Ellioot Friedman was joking in multiple radio shows about how much the CBC would love that matchup?

      It’s no secret that television loves mega jumbo events. They’re pretty used to big events.

  49. mksness says:

    meh… we face who we face. only the penguins scare me. every other team we could easily beat or lose too; meaning i see it as even and who ever is hot wins it kinda thing.

  50. HardHabits says:

    2-0, the most difficult lead to protect.

  51. Adidess says:

    I can imagine everybody in CBC headquarters on their knees right now praying to all the gods known to men that the Bruins get the win.

  52. HabFanSince72 says:

    Sena are horrible. They have goaltending – that’s all.

  53. habs1992 says:

    2-2, give me another drink

    I support Carey Price

  54. shrack says:

    Boston is good at catching a team napping in the first minute of a period.

  55. EricMelvin says:

    If the Leafs played the Bruins in round one would Cherry’s head explode? Please?

  56. habsfan0 says:

    2-2.
    CBC execs are breathing again.

  57. Ice Storm says:

    Oh… Game is not over… Lol

  58. Sportfan says:

    DAMN YOU BOSTON!

    Sports and Entertainment in the link click and enjoy, clicking is fun!
    http://nickolaisblog.wordpress.com/

  59. shrack says:

    A lot of posters on here pretending to be Habs fans.

  60. Habitant in Surrey says:

    Did You Know ???:

    …Brad Marchand is raffling tickets for 13 lucky fans for a chance to sit in his personal suite at the Gardens in Boston for the first game of the playoffs

    …bids starting I believe @ US$ 5.00

  61. 25insight says:

    Wow. Knew it.

  62. Mavid says:

    the only thing worse that a Leaf fan is a Sens fan..if we end up playing them then it must be on CBC..I could not take a round with Brown and Gally..

  63. Mavid says:

    gawd that Pizza Burger looks good

  64. habsfan0 says:

    Why does Sportsnet East black out the game in the GTA, but not in other areas of the country including Montreal?

  65. johnnylarue says:

    The nice thing about playing the Leafs is they’re prone to losing their cool and forgetting how to play hockey in the process.

    The Sens’ coaching and discipline kinda scare me. They remind me a bit of the Red Wings, actually. Super good passing, tight D, very well organized in all three zones.

    And props to Therrien for what he did with the Habs this season, but I don’t see him out-coaching Paul MacLean in a 7-game series.

  66. RazzleDazzle says:

    Ottawa will be very tough. They play their system to a tee. They have no real offensive players to focus on other than Carlson. Their goalie is very solid ( i rate him higher than Price). The games will be low scoring. I hate to say it but i see the Sens winning in 6.

    • habs1992 says:

      lol he is not better then Price

      I support Carey Price

    • christophor says:

      (1) *Karlsson. And he’s not the only offensive threat on the team. Not even the only offensive D-man.

      (2) Do you know the name of the goalie that you’ve so thoroughly analysed? If you’re talking about Lehner, he’s not their starter.

      Seems far from thought out criticism.

  67. habs1992 says:

    2-1 Ottawa also i think im an alcoholic
    I support Carey Price

  68. blu3chip says:

    29 SOG for the goons…

    Let’s hope the Sens can push back in the 3rd!

  69. Habcouver says:

    3rd period will be awesome!

    Waiting patiently for #25

  70. AceMagnum says:

    Everyone knows the Canadiens ain’t getting past the first round! So the question is who would you rather lose to? Of course the Senators

  71. showey47 says:

    Dumb play by methot with 3 seconds left to let the bruins back in the game.

  72. jon514 says:

    I love that the Leafs and Sens are gonna beat the crap out of each other… I feel like either way we win!


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