It’s not over.
And as you contemplate the deep hole your Montreal Canadiens find themselves in heading home for Game 5, consider some recent playoff history:
In Round 1, the San Jose Sharks had a 3-1 lead on the L.A. Kings heading into Game 5.
In Round 2, the New York Rangers won the opener in Pittsburgh and then dropped the next three games to the Penguins and were booed off the Madison Square Garden ice after being outshot 27-15 and losing 4-2 in Game 4.
L.A. is still playing.
So are the Rangers.
A 3-1 deficit is not insurmountable.
Except that …
The Kings are a recent Stanley Cup winner. And they’re great hockey from star players, notably Jeff Carter.
We know about the Rangers. They have a great goaltender, an excellent defence corps and veteran leadership.
Your Montreal Canadiens have a goaltender who was in the AHL a few weeks ago.
They are thin on the back end.
And their veterans look old and/or inept.
So the type of comeback engineered by the Kings and Rangers, in Rounds 1 and 2, respectively, might be beyond the reach of the Canadiens.
But they’re still alive. And a team that has displayed character and resilience all season long may have enough left in the tank to at least give the Bell Centre faithful something to celebrate Tuesday night.
The Canadiens came close in Game 4.
They twice battled back from deficits. Alex Galchenyuk hit the crossbar late in a 2-2 game, and the Canadiens had the best of the early going in Overtime.
But then Andrei Markov, who played more than 28 minutes, had two chances to clear a puck out of the Canadiens zone and couldn’t do it.
And Dustin Tokarski, who had robbed Martin St. Louis with a second-period glove save, went down prematurely, daring the future Hall of Famer to beat him top corner from the short side … which St. Louis promptly did.
All three goals by the winners were the result of one-on-one confrontations between Ranger forwards and the Canadiens goaltender. Maybe AHLers, whom Tokarski is accustomed to facing, don’t bury those chances.
But you can’t hang this crushing loss on the 35-year-old defenceman, who has to carry his Russian homeboy partner, or the 24-year-old goaltender, whose brilliance is keeping the final scores respectable.
Blame the loss on a power play that scored once in eight opportunities.
Blame it on Max Pacioretty, who had exactly one shot attempt in almost 22 minutes of ice time – and the Rangers blocked it.
Blame it on Thomas Vanek, who has never been this close to a Stanley Cup and is doing nothing to get closer. What did poor Lars Eller do to get this stiff as one of his wingers?
Blame it on Brian Gionta, whose six shots on goal – high for both teams – did not trouble Lundqvist.
Blame it on centres who lost 60 per cent of the game’s faceoffs – in the case of David Desharnais, 18 of 25.
That wouldn’t be fair to DD. He’s played his heart out in this series, as has one of his wingers, Brendan Gallagher.
Galchenyuk was good … and might be better if he weren’t playing with Gionta and Tomas Plekanec, neither of whom complement the kid’s playmaking skills.
Mike Weaver and Francis Bouillon played strong games in limited minutes, and Frankie Boo’s goal gave the Canadiens second-period life.
Daniel Brière had four shots on goal and won a respectable 6 of his 13 draws.
P.K. Subban played 33:16, blocked five shots and broke a five-game scoring drought. The Rangers have been keying on P.K. all through the series, and the pressure has bee a learning experience that will help his development.
The Canadiens deficit in this series can’t be hung on any of the young players who constitute the future of this team.
If the underachieving veterans can produce in Game 5 and beyond …
Well, it’s a longshot.
But the Canadiens season won’t be over until at least two hours after the music legend sings.