You knew this was how it would go down.
It was written in the stars and every line in your palm.
This is what it means to be a Montreal Canadiens fan:
Heartache … with more to come.
The Toronto Maple Leafs will play their Stanley Cup final at the Bell Centre on Saturday night.
The game will be a brief taste of 1967 for the Leafs.
And it’s 2007 for the Canadiens.
The terrifying scenario hinges on what happens in New York on Friday night.
The Rangers have to beat the Flyers to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Some teams win when the pressure is on.
Marc-André Bergeron told it like it is on RDS: “We were shit.”
It’s been blue-blanc-rouge-brun all week long.
The Canadiens had their chance to clinch on Long Island.
They were overmatched against Carolina.
Eric Staal, Chad Larose, Cam Ward, Ray Whitney, Erik Cole … Sergei Samsonov, for heaven’s sake.
The Hurricanes played like they needed points for a playoff spot.
What can we say that hasn’t been said, at various times, through 81 games?
When the pressure is on – whether it’s an opponent’s fourth line aggressively forechecking in October or the necessity of Ws in April – your Montreal Canadiens do not compete.
Without their goaltending, a lottery draft team.
Two $8 million hockey players took the ice at the RBC Center: Eric Staal and Scott Gomez.
Staal had three goals, two assists and eight shots on goal.
Gomez had an assist and one shot.
And he wasn’t the worst Canadien.
Ryan O’Byrne and Sergei Kostitsyn were benched during the second period and never returned.
Benoit Pouliot was benched then demoted to the fourth line … until the coach shortened his bench and went to three lines.
Ah, the coach …
The Canadiens haven’t dominated an opponent since they outshot the Rangers 35-20 and beat them 3-1 at Madison Square garden.
That was March 16.
Since then, Jacques Martin has watched his team spinning its wheels, not scoring goals, squeezing out Ws on the back of Jaro Halak.
The Canadiens skated off the ice in New York with a clear path to the playoffs. They had their destiny in their hands – and they’re in the process of fumbling it – with their coach seemingly incapable of stanching the bleeding.
The Canadiens are small.
And on the evidence of what we saw this week on Long Island and in Carolina, the team has no pride.
That’s a harsh judgement to levy against a hockey team that includes Brian Gionta, Jaro Halak, Josh Gorges, Travis Moen, Hal Gill, Dominic Moore – the guys who give everything they’ve got in every game.
But you can’t dispute the evidence: 125 minutes of mediocre, and often piss-poor, hockey against two teams that won’t make the playoffs.
Martin had “no explanation” after that embarrassment. He said his team was “not ready to battle”. He described their no-show, in a crucial game, as “inexcusable.”
You’ve got till 7:15 p.m. on Saturday to do something about it, Jacques-o.
Anyone got any suggestions for the coach?
Darche in, Sergei or Pouliot out against the Leafs?
New bodies for Tomas Plekanec and Mike Cammalleri? A double transplant – brain and heart – for Andrei Kostitsyn?
The long season has taken its toll on Pleks, who’s played the minutes of a 6’4″ centre like that Staal guy.
Cammalleri, another smurf, hasn’t been the same since his injury.
AK46 … it’s getting so I can’t watch him play. Too lackadaisical, too inconsistent, too damn stupid in his decisions on what to do with the puck.
Imagine Gionta with Kostitsyn’s physical gifts.
Imagine Gorges with O’B’s size.
Imagine a playoff spot secured, setting up a nice meaningless Saturday night dance with the Leafs.
Wake up and smell the coffee … and the way this is going, something stronger.
• • •
No Joni Pitkanen on D for Carolina.
No Tim Gleason.
The blueline corps of the team that won 5-2: Brian Pothier, Brett Carson, Bryan Rodney, casey Borer, Jay Harrison and someone named Jamie Mcbain, who played 26:58 and was plus-4.
• • •
Do the Montreal Canadiens know how to develop young talent or what?
Benched: Ryan O’Byrne, Sergei Kostitsyn, Benoit Pouliot.
Not benched: Scott Gomez
The future is so bright we’re going to need sunglasses to watch the games.