About last night …

Magic.

That’s what Dany Dubé was calling it on the CKAC post-game show. But for me and maybe for 21,000 deliriously happy fans in the Bell Centre (there were a couple hundred Rangers supporters), it was more of a 21st century religious experience:

Woodstock Meets Triumph of the Will

"Olé! Olé! Olé! Olé! …. and BTW, Avery sucks!"

The revivalists and I bore wiitness to something that had never happened in the long and often glorious history of the Montreal Canadiens. The team had never come back from 5-0 to win a hockey game.

Not with Maurice Richard.

Not with Jean Béliveau.

Not with Guy Lafleur.

The greatest comeback in 99 years of Montreal hockey was keyed by …. organ flourish, please … Michael Ryder.

There is a God – and He loves Newfoundlanders

Bob: About that trade …

To be honest, I still don’t understand what I saw last night. Maybe I’ll have figured things out in time for the Habs Inside/Out podcast, later today.

For now, here are a few scatter-shot observations.

• The seventh man deserved the first star. The crowd was frenzied last night – exhilarating and a little scary. Canadiens were still buzzing about it after the game, as was Rangers coach Tom Renney. In how many NHL rinks is there a thunderous ovation for winning a dying-seconds faceoff?

• Cristobal Huet is number one … again … for now. Three brilliant stops in the shootout, and then the low-key Frenchman leapt into the waiting arms of Mike Komisarek. It was the hockey version of Yogi Berra and Don Larson.

• Komisarek is a journalist’s delight, always candid and quotable. After last night’s comeback, he was as happy and voluble as I’ve ever seen him. When fans littered the ice after his second high-sticking penalty (let’s be thankful the promotion wasn’t Stick Night), the penalty box timekeeper told Komisarek "I haven’t seen anything like this since the Forum."

• Steve Bégin had EIGHT hits, each one a thunderous affirmation of a simple message: "We’re not done yet!"

• Maxim Lapierre was plus-3 and may have found his offensive groove with Michael Ryder and Mark Streit.

• My man Josh Gorges, a clean slate (he was not on for any of the five New York goals) and huge in OT.

• Canadiens need a team award for the player who handles adversity with the most courage and class. Name it after Job or Bob Gainey, and the winner is … Michael Ryder.

• Another great night in Moscow on the St. Lawrence: Alex Kovalev (introduces the feet-up goal celebration), the brilliant Andrei Markov, the Fabulous Flying Kostitsyn Brothers. 5-0? BFD. These people trailed by four touchdowns at Stalingrad.

• Roman Hamrlik for the Kipling Award: If you can keep your head while all about you …

• I felt bad for Tom Kostopoulos, Bryan Smolinski and Patrice Brisebois. They missed a game their teammates will be telling their grandchildren about.

• The thumpers who usually bedevil Canadiens – Blair Betts, Jason Strudwick, Ryan Hollweg – were each minus-2.

• Say what you will about Sean Avery – and what was said, at high decibels in the upper reaches of the stands, cannot be printed, not even in a blog – but the little s— can play hockey: six shots, four hits, plus-2. I’d trade for him tomorrow – unles the Rangers asked for Michael Ryder.

OK, I have to go put on my makeup for the podcast. So one last crazy thought after an insane evening:

This is beginning to look like a team of destiny.

The prospect of late May/early June hockey in Magic City is no longer preposterous.

 

 

 

 

268 Comments

  1. projectpete19 says:

    i know i noticed in the huddle that price gave ryder a friendly face scrub with his glove and the reaction ryder gave was like he wanted to punch him out. hmm

  2. Wencz says:

    you may be right about ryder… higgy and saku haven’t had great seasons.

    i also agree with what you said about price. i think that this team — and this has been going on since we had theodore in net — tries to often to lean on a hot goalie.

  3. Wencz says:

    can you confirm that Wops? I’d be surprised.

  4. Wencz says:

    If it’s nothing offensive I think we should just let people post what they want to.

  5. Chorske says:

    I don’t mind people posting ideas for lineups, as long as they mix it up. Reposting the same idea repeatedly is kind of spammy, and I don’t even read his posts anymore, which is a shame. I’m sure Mike has to other interesting things to say- so he should say them.

  6. Vid says:

    Well Koivu had a career high in points last season and expecting him to match that would be stretching it but he started off the season pretty hot then cooled down considerably. He did seem a step slower and not as good at protecting the puck. I thought last season the main strength of that line was their cycling behind the net but I don’t think I’ve seen them do any of that this season. If memory serves me correct a lot of goals were scored with Koivu setting up someone from behind the net (or in Gretzky’s office).

    Higgy with 18 goals snake bitten? I think you could say Ryder was snake bitten. Higgins I think is doing fine, he only had 2 points more after 61 games last season for his injury. I guess fans were expecting a more dramatic point per game production from him.

    I remember Ryder with Lapierre and Higgins worked out pretty well (can’t remember when) Higgins setting Ryder up on a nice give and go 2 on 1 that broke Ryder out of his slump. (I think that was Ryder’s 7th goal of the season?) Not sure why that line was broken up. At least Ryder has proven that he can score goals without the usual suspects and what important goals they have been.

  7. krob1000 says:

    my bad…..i knew the score and they scored four in the third but I forgot we also scored what should have been an insurance marker.

  8. Vid says:

    No to the first question…we choked a 3 goal lead that time.
    http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/boxscore;_ylt=AhzivhkFtCiBPGvESXtI8AcrvLYF?gid=2007120110

    but that’s a minor detail, otherwise excellent points made.

  9. Blitzen says:

    Truly sorry if it offended you. I’ve changed my sig.
    _____________________________________________________
    Remember February 19th: The Comeback

  10. Chuck says:

    And to think that we thought that the comeback in the Devil’s game was as good as it gets! Last night’s game was just another in what no doubt will be a long list of “defining moments”.

    I’m with you, Sulemaan. After they tied it to take it to overtime, I couldn’t have been more proud of them; it wouldn’t have mattered to me if they had lost in overtime or the shootout. The extra point was just icing on the cake… and what sweet icing it is!

    .
    .
    .

    ______________________________________
    “All bow down before the Komisaurus Rex!”

  11. Sulemaan says:

    Absolutely proud to be a Habs fan. Leafs fans are all bitter here in the office. Love it.

    Honestly, I wouldn’t have cared if they even lost in overtime because they put the effort in. That’s all I ask for and they delivered it in spades.

    I think of the ‘Too Many Men’ game in 1979, the ‘McSorely stick’ penalty in ’93 and this game is right up there.

    I also wouldn’t make a single trade unless someone wants Brisebois or Smolinski. If anything, last night has made things easier for Bob Gainey. He is not in the position where he has to make a trade.

    Besides, chemistry is a funny thing so why mess with a winning formula?

  12. Mike says:

    just wanted to say, i feel a bit bad for price. he was thrown into his fourth straight game and expected to stand on his head. When he got pulled the crown started “huet” chants and im sure it really hurt. At the end of the game. he tried so haard to join the celebration but he was unintentionally left out.

  13. MikeL says:

    I just noticed something funny…I was searching the internet finding any and all articles written about last night’s game. I came across the Montreal Gazette webpage and found their write ups. What’s very interesting is that the fourth column down the page is written by Pat Hickey and headlines “Canadiens stumble”, followed by an intro summary reading “It was not the start the Canadiens wanted against the New York Rangers, who scored three first-period…” and has a picture of Price letting in a goal. When you click on it, it goes to his “new” article, talking about the comeback. Sounds like Mr. Hickey began writing his column a little early last night. And I’m sure he wasn’t the only one.

  14. Rogie30 says:

    Hello, I just posted above, then saw your post,next time will read more as I said mostly the same things, have to type fast before my boss comes back. Huet seemed different in the shootout, never committed first, you are so right.

  15. Rogie30 says:

    Did anyone notice when we scored the third goal, the crowd really got into it, my friends were saying Montreal is so loud when they want to be, this game had me in tears and couldnt sleep. Huet was different in the shootout, he NEVER committed first, waited for the shooter to make the first move, THATS THE SECRET. I love him, today.

  16. mjames says:

    The guy has been posting the same message a few times each day for the past month.

    mjames

  17. HabsWatcher says:

    Well, two trades actually – Ryder & Begin.

    Interesting to see the new three amigos (the 3 ‘major’ free agent signings from last summer) all watching from the pressbox – where they should have been for most of the season.

  18. JF says:

    Not to worry about Price. I felt bad for him too, but I love the way he and Huet complement each other. Huet had a great stretch and when he faltered, Price stepped in and was stellar. Now it’s Huet’s turn to bail out Price. I think his performance last night, particularly in the shootout, will help him develop that extra dimension a goaltender needs in the playoffs. But Price will be back. On the weekend he showed great composure and nerve, and also the lightning-quick reflexes I didn’t see earlier in the season. He and Huet make a great tandem. I think we have better goaltending than Ottawa, as well as more character and grit.

  19. Sbah Reverof says:

    I saw the team win the Cup from 76-79, yet oddly enough, I have never been prouder to be a Habs fan than I am today.
    I can’t say much that hasn’t already been said, and words can do no justice to last night’s game; I am quite speechless today.
    So let me just say I think Price should start in nets on Thursday, let’s see if he can rebound from his first-period ejection.
    ps-to Ian Cobb, I still remember our collective frustration over the team back in late fall, which makes today all the more sweeter.

  20. HabsInBlood says:

    I will say again everyone should get a TIVO or some kind of DVR. I rewound to all the hits and goals several times over after the game was done. The only downside was it was NHL center ice in the U.S. and as a result the MSG network feed. This game is going into the “never delete” category and I will pull it out of the archives whenever I’m looking for some inspiration.

  21. tony d says:

    Hey Mike don’t feel bad for Brisebois missing the game…. every game he misses just helps the team win.(That’s his contribution)
    I felt bad for Carey…. at the end of the game while they were all huddled on the ice, congratulating one another, he looked like the odd guy out, on the perimeter, trying to reach in to tap guys on the shoulder.
    I think the D hung him out to dry a few times…maybe overconfident that he’d pull off miraculous saves.
    I love Huet, don’t get me wrong….and I think pulling Price was the wise choice…. let’s just not forget that he’s definitely helped us as well to get to this point and should be proud of his effort to date.
    Go Habs Go

  22. JB says:

    We’ve already made our “trade” -it’s called playin Ryder as we should have been doing all yr.

    Great win and loving the chemistry – not much to say that hasn’t already been said.

  23. howtathor says:

    I hope we keep Ryder for the balance of the season. Who knows what has been unleashed. I agree with him playing with Streit who is so good in the corners and getting him the puck.
    Even if we lose him in the off season, we’ve got Grabs and Pacioretty and D’agostini in Hamilton waiting to carry the torch.

  24. howtathor says:

    Like your THK jersey!

  25. HabsInBlood says:

    Maybe I’m budding in here without knowing any context or history with the posters, but what’s wrong with those suggestions? Last night’s game was an example of what’s possible with this team when more than just the Pleks line provides an offensive spark. Having said that, the Koivu line didn’t account for any of the 5 on 5 scoring comeback. Ryder playing with 2 playmakers like the suggestion above is an interesting idea. One of the problems when Ryder plays with Higgins (i.e. the old Koivu line) is that Higgins now likes to have the puck on his stick a lot and his “vision” is definitely not one of his assets. Koivu and S. Kost would both be looking to get Ryder the puck … and they would … and that is when Ryder (and this team) is at its best.

  26. Mr.Hazard says:

    I got numb after a while… I feel cheated cause it was too amazing for me to fully comprehend it…

    Ex nihilo nihil fit

  27. krob1000 says:

    Did we choke a four goal lead on home ice against the Nashville Predators??? Did we choke a 3-0 lead to the Rangers??? Do things always sort themselves out in the end??? The answer to all those questions is YES.

    “Play hard for the entire game and who knows what can happen”
    “It all starts with one”
    “As long as you are still getting chances the puck eventually goes in”
    These are simple statements you hear in hockey circles that get repeated over and over and over and last night was the ultimate example of why.

    That was the most entertaining comeback I have ever seen. Yes EVER. Sure there have been better and bigger but not from our Habs. The way it happened made it all the better. Ryder having been dogged all year leading the way. Price getting yanked and still smiling and not letting his confidence rot (very important). Huet making several huge saves when the game could have easily gotten more out of hand. Kovy…..being Kovy (the new Kovy that is). Markov being an absolute force. Komisarek and Begin leading the physical charge (Komi attacking Dubinsky who yapped about him in the papers and Begin after being sat out gives two incredible performances). The crowd in Montreal actually backing their boys when they were down (that cannot be underestimated…..it was a huge factor). Every single guy winning individual battles (puck support was huge). Huet shutting the dorr in a shootout.

    These are some of the feel good storylines that helped me conclude that this was the best comebck I have ever seen. Yes Ever!

    I was so proud of those guys. I never stopped watching even for a minute because even when we were down guys like Komi, Sergei, Begin and Ryder were still battling. I thought the game was going to turn physical (fights,etc,) instead it turned physical but it was just us beating them to a pulp with bonecrushing hits. Koivu was a monster once energized as well……he didn’t get on the scoresheet (i assist and so winner but you know what I mean) much but it was nice to see the old Saku back winning individual battles with guys twice his size.

    These guys are the definition of team toughness…………sacrifice and playing for the guy beside you…..that is what being on a team is all about… I am one proud S.O.B. today.

    I just hope the fans at the Bell Centre fully understand how much it meant to those guys to have that kind of support behind them like that…..it was so obvious on television. That folks is what fans are supposed to be like (never mind the few boo birds when we were down…they will never change). With that type of support the sky is the limit…..and the Habs can fly.

  28. tony d says:

    I love Begin!!!!!!!
    That guy was hitting and hustling from the get go, when his teammates seemed to be intimidated.
    Although many fans gave up after the 1st 5 goals (my son left the room)… I had faith that they would not allow themselves to be humiliated in their own house again.
    Last night I was so happy that I had ordered RDS back in December, worth every penny….I just wish I had been at the Bell centre to witness that emotional high en masse!!
    Although it’s a blustery -20 with the wind-chill outside, the hearts of Habs fans everywhere are on fire today.
    Go Habs Go
    Celine Dion, call Steve Begin and beg him to father your next child!!! (no offense Rene)

  29. RGM says:

    The second-round pick will be upgraded to a first!

    In all seriousness, though, Ryder’s always been clutch down the stretch. I say give him a chance to prove himself, and if he does, give him more than another one-year deal.

    See you April 5th at the Bell Centre!

  30. RGM says:

    “This is beginning to look like a team of destiny.”

    I believe I said something to that effect last night after Huet sealed the deal with that stop on Jagr. I still believe it this morning.

    See you April 5th at the Bell Centre! — may become “see you in June at the Bell Centre” because there’s no chance in hell this BC product will give it a miss and watch on his TV if his team goes a long, long way.

  31. nick says:

    I wonder if Bob Gainey is stratching his head this morning thinking, now what?

    How do you think this will (if at all) affect moves around the trade deadline?

    Personally, i think whats done is done. If Ryder was on the trading block, last night’s performnace isn’t going to change that. It will put his value up though 😉

  32. Revolution No. 9 says:

    I agree. Koivu is having the same year Kovy had last year. And Higgins, well, I’m starting to think that we should trade him while he’s still so highly rated. I think the A on his jersey stands for Anchor.

  33. RS says:

    the penalty box timekeeper told Komisarek “I haven’t seen anything like this since the Forum.” Awesome!!!

    What ever happened to our supposed home ice disadvantage?

  34. Revolution No. 9 says:

    Yeah, I think the question is: 25 goals? Not 20.

  35. Dan23 says:

    There will be no substantive comments from me today. I just want to enjoy the win and this indescribable feeling.

  36. Wops says:

    Can it be agreed than BÉGIN should never play the wing again!!?

    This guy is a monster down the center! Good to have the good ol’Bégin back!

    P.S. I’m seeing a rotation with Dandenault & Latendresse for Smokes and Nonstopoulos for the rest of the year.

    P.S.2. Brisebois is done for the year unless injuries come by.
    _______________________________________
    CH is for Chris Higgins

  37. OldGrover says:

    In the TSN Player Rankings, he’s currently rated #18 in centres in the league (and climbing)

  38. mjames says:

    Actually I kind of like the Ryder, Lapierre, Streit line. If I am Carbo I might ride that for awhile .

    mjames

  39. Matt_in_TO says:

    That’s a great idea.

  40. MikeL says:

    I’m not going to say a lot, since it has likely been said already. I’d just like to say that I had the same feeling after last nights game as I did 15 years ago this June, when I was only 8 years old, and Desjardins scored the hat-trick in OT to even the series. I can’t even put into words the joy I felt last night.

    TSN’s webpage has about 4 or 5 stories related to the Habs after last night. People really feel something special with this team..

  41. Rugger says:

    mid to high 20’s – he is catching fire

  42. Habs-Kat says:

    Ryder for 20 goals?

  43. Guy21 says:

    No need to mock religion….This is a hockey web site.

  44. JF says:

    You’re right about Plekanec. Those faceoff wins were huge.

  45. JF says:

    An absolutely awesome game. The fans were unbelievable. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to be there; even on TV the electricity was palpable. I loved Kovalev’s reaction when he scored the tying goal. After the game he said, “It’s unbelievable. The fans have always been great to me. It definitely makes you give more back and I’m trying to play as hard as I can for them. A game like this, we just had to keep playing and you never know what will happen.” That sums up not only Kovalev’s season but also how the team reacted to being down 5-0 last night. When Ryder scored his first goal, you could feel that the fans were starting to believe a turn-around was possible. After that the momentum just kept building.

    Huet was great in the shootout. He didn’t go down, didn’t make the first move, didn’t give a lot to shoot at. In the past he used either to freeze or to flop. Can it be that he’s learned how to handle the shootout? He did the same thing in the Atlanta game, which proved to be a huge confidence-builder for him and the team.

    I loved Gorges’ play. He’s making far fewer mistakes and showing much greater assurance. He was great late in the third and in the overtime. Some game soon he’ll score; I just know it.

    Michael Ryder deserves all the credit in the world for the way he’s handled a nightmare season. I hope Gainey has not arranged a trade; he’s back and we need him.

    It was the last Rangers’ game which sent the Canadiens into their three-game slump. The victory last night was so huge that it should have the opposite effect in terms of building confidence and character. The team ought to believe after this that they can do anything. All season we’ve been lamenting their inability to come back when they’re down a goal. This comeback and the one against Jersey a few weeks ago show what our team is made of.

  46. J.T. says:

    God might love Newfoundlanders, but sometimes he’s got a funny way of showing it. 🙂

    Sure…Komisarek sparked something with his passion, but Ryder held the kindling and coaxed the conflagration to life with his goals. He was the best player on the ice in a phenomenal effort by almost everyone on the team. Take him away from Chris Higgins and he can still do it. I think Carbo hit on something by putting him with Streit.

    And I haven’t seen much love for Plekanec’s efforts yet today, but he was absolutely on another level in the third period last night. He won every single big faceoff he took, he drove the Rangers’ zone like a bulldozer and he was deeply involved in creating Kovalev’s goals. He may not be counted as a number one centre by the league’s experts, but he sure looked like one last night.

    Destiny? I don’t know. But they sure are a lot of fun to watch.

    http://habsloyalist.blogspot.com

  47. showey47 says:

    Remember during the first half of last season when most people thought the problem with the samy,kovy and pleky line was pleky? When it actually turned out to be his linemates. I wonder if the same thing could be said about ryder this season? Saku doesn’t look quite as fast as last season and higgy is the most snakebitten player i’ve ever seen. I think ryder needs to be on a line where he is the only triggerman and last night may of shown it.

    Feel bad for price, i don’t know if the team got a little to complacent with his play over the last 3 games with his play and just let the rangers fire at will hoping that price will bail them out.

  48. Chuck V. says:

    I was thinking of a nice way to say it but you hit the nail on the head JT haha well done

  49. MTL LOVE says:

    Hah what a game!!Historic come back :)) This team is playing with real fire, not sure we need to change anything on the trade deadline. This is feeling like a dream…1st place, trade talks about Hossa, Tanguay and Sundin. Who knows what will happen next! What a difference this year makes compared to the past.
    WE BELIEVE!!!

  50. howtathor says:

    I put on my Michael Ryder jersey last night for the third night in a row. I told my gf that we’re on a roll and can’t mess with the mojo. I also hinted that he would score a bunch and that he did! It hasn’t been a easy year to be a Michael Ryder fan. I hear the boos at the Bell Centre and when he’s been a healthy scratch I definitely felt for him.
    I ran into guys who have come all the way from the rock to see their boy play. You can sense the pride in their voice when they speak his name. Last night he did them proud, he broke out and now has 3 goals in the last 2 games. I hope Bob will be wise and let him finish the season with the Habs, but it seems a lot like the Souray situation last where we lost him and got nothing in return.

    Wherever this strange hockey road takes you Michael Ryder, we’ll never forget Feb 19, 2008 and the improbable comeback sparked by your two goals.

  51. J.T. says:

    With all due, respect, Mike…STOP IT! Please! We are not in a position to change the lines. Guy Carbonneau is either a) not reading this or b) not listening to you. You know how badly you want to see those line combinations of yours? That’s how badly I want you to stop posting them.

    http://habsloyalist.blogspot.com

  52. Mike says:

    Sergei-Koivu-Ryder
    Andrei-Pleks-Kovalev
    Higgins-LApierre-Latendresse
    Streit-Begin-Kostopolaus

    Begin and smolinski can switch after a few games to keep begin fresh

    Markov-Komi
    Hammerlik-O’Byrne
    Boullion-Gorges

    PLEASE!

  53. Blitzen says:

    Mike,

    Just sent you an email suggesting a thread be started where I/O members could post their encouragements for the team as they drive for the playoffs. Something you might print and give the team. Show them that even fans away from MTL are 100% behind them.

    Anyways just a thought.

    Thanks for considering it!
    _____________________________________________________
    Jesus Price: the Blocker, the Glove and the Holy Post

  54. NLhabsfan says:

    Well said Mike.When you look at the minutes that have been allotted to Ryder this season and the BS he has had to put up with….you have to give him high marks.Sounds like a class act.The only sticking point is his UFA status.Who says he doesn’t want to stay in Montreal.He has said to the media down in Newfoundland and everywhere else loves it here.This game is something special and compares up there with other Montreal games I will remember for years to come.

  55. Wops says:

    Precision for Mike Boone: (Great Blog by the way!)

    A 5-0 comeback with Richard, Béliveau and LaFleur never happened because they were never down 5-0!

    _______________________________________
    “3P Break: The comeback ain’t happening. Rangers are too good, too fast and too smart.” – Mike, hehehe <-- sry Mike had to do it!

  56. Blitzen says:

    Oh and EVERYBODY remember this game when they get a two-game skid.

    I think what we’re seeing now is what happens when you pull together a bunch of character guys, many of whom could be a team captain: Koivu, Higgins, Komi, Kovy, etc…, etc…

    Talent is great but character and grit are hard to learn also.
    _____________________________________________________
    Jesus Price: the Blocker, the Glove and the Holy Post


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