Do they have a shot?

Realistically, no.

Yes, stranger things have happened – notably in 1971, when the Bruins were even scarier than the Capitals.

And there was the Miracle on Ice, when a guy in plaid bell-bottoms coached the U.S. to an Olympic win over a whole team of Alexander Ovechkins.

In his superb Daily Hab-it blog, my man Arpon Basu outlines some advantages the Canadiens have in this series: playoff experience, the PK, goaltending.

The Canadiens have a puncher’s chance, a term used in boxing to describe the possibility that a hopelessly outclassed fighter will land a punch hard enough to KO the superior combatant.

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The comparison to boxing raises the issue that I think will doom the Canadiens in this series: Size.

Washington is WAY bigger. Apart from Ovechkin, who’s a moose, consider these bruisers:

Jason Chimera, 6’4″, 214

Eric Fehr, 6’4″ 212

Mike Knuble, 6’3″, 223

Brooks Laich, 6’2″, 200

David Steckel, 6’5″, 217

At the trade deadline, Washington general manager George McPhee landed Scott Walker, who’s only 5’10”, 196 but punches above his weight … ask Aaron Ward.

The smallest Washington defencman is Jow Corvo at 6′, 204. Jeff Schultz is the biggest at 6’6″ 230.

Is size the absolute determinant in hockey?

Not necessarily. But it’s important in the playoffs, when the preponderance of goals are scored in the dirty areas, where all but Brian Gionta fear to tread.

A good big team will beat a good small team every time out.

What a good big team will do to a mediocre small team might not be pretty to watch.

I think Bruce Boudreau will try to set a tone for the series by having his guys come out thumpin’.

The Washington coach will get a matchup that pits his big boppers against the defence pairing of Marc-André Bergeron and Andrei Markov. Josh Gorges will take a pounding. So will Jaro Spacek.

(Boudreau will be less concerned by forward match-ups. He won’t tell Ovechkin “If you see Mathieu Darche, get off the ice.”)

Wearing down the Canadiens’ D will open it up for Washington’s skill guys. And then things could get really ugly.

The stat that jumps out at me is 5-on-5 goals: Washington had 213 this season. That’s 81 more – one per game – than the Canadiens scored 5-on-5. In fact, it’s more than the Canadiens’ TOTAL 210 goals.

Maybe the key to victory will be coincident minors. In 4-on-4 hockey, the Canadiens outscored Washington 11-5 this season.

Enough doom and gllom

Upsets happen. That’s why they play the games.

I think Brian Gionta and Scott Gomez will play well.

I’m less confident about Tomas Plekanec. The president of the José Theodore fan club played  alot of minutes tis season, and the workload took its toll – as it did with Roman Hamrlik – down the stretch.

Mike Cammaleri will have to recapture his mojo.

Benoit Pouliot will have to elevate his game and rekindle hope that this highly-skilled but underachieving kid can become an impact player in Montreal.

Andrei Kostitsyn … ah, what can I say about my favourite whipping boy? AK46 was seventh on the team in scoring. MAB, for heaven’s sake, was sixth.

Then there’s Jaro.

If he gets the call for Game 1 – and I expect he will – Halak will be making his 44th start. That’s 10 more than last season.

Make no mistake: Jaro is the reason the Canadiens are in the playoffs.

But let’s not kid ourselves: in three games the Canadiens had to win, Halak was fair-to-crap.

One more sleep.

Prediction: Washington in five.

 

 

 

 

137 Comments

  1. Will Longlade says:

    Damn, my memory is fading fast. I guess that’s just another nail in the coffin for MAB then.

  2. MikeL says:

    It’s an excuse.

  3. andrewberkshire says:

    Will, I don’t think you’re recalling correctly. MAB had 2 goals and 1 assist in 18 games for the Oilers in the playoffs that year. Spacek on the other hand, had 3 goals and 11 assists in 24 games.

  4. Will Longlade says:

    It will likely revolve around a turtleneck metaphor.

  5. andrewberkshire says:

    Creative coaching? From JM? I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you, Steve.

  6. Will Longlade says:

    Good post. I too wonder about the MAB factor. What MAB will the Habs get in the playoffs? The one who constantly coughs up the puck whenever a strong forecheck is applied, or the one who helped the Oil reach the playoff finals the year after the lockout (if I recall correctly). IMO, JM’s decision to go with MAB on D smacks of desperation. As many other posters have suggetsed, it’s a high risk, high reward strategy. Lets hope the return ends up being commensurate with the risk. 

  7. Wops says:

    Alright, Datsyuk, Pat Kane, Derek Roy, Richards, Krejci, Zach Parisé, all play the same time or more than Plekanec.

     

    They are all the same size +/- 5pounds.

     

    Why is Plekanec exhausted? Are all those guys too?

  8. Hockey Socks says:

    A lot of inflated stats on the Capitals. Schultz plays 20 minutes a game almost entirely 5-on-5. On a powerhouse like Washington, you’re bound to get a nice +/- jump. It’s pretty ridiculous that Theo is 20-0-3 in his last 23 games, but everyone knows that he himself is really not that good.

  9. Jbell10 says:

    Simple to say, yes.

    Simple to do, no.

  10. avatar_58 says:

    Look at all the cap fans (aka bandwagoners who became ‘fans’ once Ovechkin came along) laughing it up. Wouldn’t it be DAMN sweet if they choked?

  11. HabFanSince72 says:

    Agreed.

    Dumbest team in the league.

  12. HabFanSince72 says:

    That’s all you do.

     

     

  13. HabFanSince72 says:

    O’Byrne is a bit of a goof though.

    Since Guillaume left, he’s in fact the biggest goof on the team.

  14. Les-Habitants says:

    We have the edge in speed, and I think we can frustrate this team with our team D.  I think OB should be paired with Markov though, for the very reason of providing some physical support to our back end.  MAB could take shifts in as the need requires. 

    Their D is big, yes, but they aren’t exactly known for their defensive prowess.  I’ve seen the Habs, time and time again, play up (or down) to the ability of their opposing team.  As far as matchups go, I think this version of the Habs will fair better against the Sabers or the Caps than they would against the Devils.  We can run and gun. 

    We have great special teams and great goaltending, and I think there might be a saying about how those things in particular is how you win championships.

  15. moonkid says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if this goes to 7 games.

    The last 3 series the Caps played, went to 7 games, and they were the first to face elimination in all of them. (Twice coming back from 3-1). Hopefully they’ll start slow again.

    Having said that, I don’t have huge expectations for the series. If Habs have to go down, I hope they go down swinging.

  16. Tis Himself says:

    It’s nothin’ that Propecia can’t cure!

  17. avatar_58 says:

    Since I’ll never get tired of watching it…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAZO6bvbET0

     

  18. nick says:

    Hey for all those calling this a blowout for whatever reason…

    MTL has had a pretty injury filled roster the majority of the season… And yet, they still managed to beat Washington 2 out of 4 games. Washington is a hot team. No doubt about it. But I don’t think it’s as one sided as many here do.

  19. Tis Himself says:

    Well, it’s too late to tank now. Might as well just show up and play.

  20. Bob Barker says:

    Crosby is the same height but definitely not the same size. The guy has ridiculous lower body strength. 

  21. notbigbird says:

    I’ll go along with Boone’s Caps in 5, hoping that we might squeak out a game. I expect two blowouts, one in the first game. Among other considerations is tis: a team that has to rely on MAB isn’t in good shape IMO. Having to rely on him messes with either the defence or the fourth line … as well as my nerves.

  22. Jbell10 says:

    Areas we will have to be better then Caps;

    1. Special teams. PK – Tons of blocked shots from Gill, Gorges, Pleks and the rest of the PK crew.

                             PP – MAB and Markov setting up bombs from the point. Pouliot, Gionta causing traffic in front. Pleks, AK, Cammy, Gomez setting up the perimeter.

    2. Goaltending. Halak and or Price must be stellar. Get in Jose’s face as much as possible (Laps can use his big mouth to get Theo of his game).

    3. Forecheck/cycle. Keep the puck moving in offensive zone for as long as possible. Lines 3 and 4 HAVE to be big in their zone to keep the puck out of the Caps Guns hands.

    If the stats show that the Habs bettered the Caps in these areas, I believe it will be going to 6-7.

     

  23. Thomas Le Fan says:

    A shot? Hells yes. Mais oui! Habs in seven.

  24. Chorske says:

    Yep, that’s about right. We’ll win a game, probably early on.

    It’d be nice to be proven wrong, mind.

  25. habinypsi says:

    I’ll be happy if we push it to six games.

  26. 24 Cups says:

    I wonder about the M.A. Bergeron factor in this year’s playoffs. In 2008, Bob Gainey passed on re-signing Streit. This left us vulnerable on the D in terms of the PP (someone backing up Andrei Markov) and moving the puck out of our own end. Once Markov was hurt, we had no choice but to give up a pick for Matt Schneider. Last summer, Gainey tried to rectify the situation by signing Spacek to compliment Markov. The price was high as we had to give a 3 year contract to a player who was already over 35. Markov’s subsequent injury, coupled with Spacek’s poor offensive play, led to the eventual signing of Bergeron. Hey, I have no problem with Bergeron, we wouldn’t have made the playoffs without him (or Metro). However, using him as a specialist leads to two huge problems: we can’t develop a solid 4th line and we now have to limit the ice time of our only physical Dman, Ryan O’Byrne.   Hal Gill and Roman Hamrlik may have the size but they really don’t utilize it in the way that we would want them to in our own end. He’s a forgotten man, but it’s really too bad that Paul Mara didn’t have the year that we had hoped for – his injury filled season really exposed a hole in our D. We can’t win without a shot from the point on the PP, but we also can’t win without having four lines as well as some players who can answer Washington’s physical game. It’s going to take some creative coaching to get around that dilemma.

  27. Will Longlade says:

    To win this series, the small guys who disappear when the going gets tough (Pleks) have to play big and the few big guys we have (Moen, Pouliot, Gill and OB – hope he plays) have to come up big. Hab’s goalies will also have to steal a game or two. 

     

  28. PrimeTime says:

    IMO if the Habs play to their best ability as we have seen against higher up teams many times this year and can take one of the 1st 2 games we have a shot. Confidence and momentum is everything in the playoffs. If we put some doubt in their minds by exposing their D while keeping ours tight we might be able to give  them a scare. A lot would have to suddenly come together but it’s possible. Wash is the type of team we have fared well against this year.

     

    Bipolar or Manic-Depressive Disorder is a disease than can treated.

  29. joeybarrie says:

    I think it comes down to this. We have a 50% chance at winning this series. Two reasons. First, simply put there are two teams and only 1 will win. Second and most importantly, if we comes out hard and play to our potential, we can do it. If we come out soft and play like we normally do, we cannot. It is a 50-50 chance on what team shows up. We have a better defense and goalie than they do. This gives us the advantage, as we have had when we played them all season. However, we are known to have lapses, and they are the number 1 team to take advantage of those lapses. When they do they can score 3-4 goals easily. This is where their advantage lies. Overall they are a better team. HOWEVER, if our goalie plays great, our defense plays solid and hard, and our offense plays to their potential. This series is ours. This is where the bad lies. No matter how great they play on defense, goalie or forward they have the ability to get around it fairly easily. We do not. That’s why i predict we are out in 5 or 6. BUT……….. IN THE END, I BELIEVE WE CAN UPSET.

    We are giving Halak a chance to prove he can STAY number 1.

    We might be giving Price a chance to say, hey it isn’t Halak’s job just yet.

    We are giving our patch players a chance to show they belong.

    I also believe we are giving some guys a last chance on their PRODUCTION. Because they clearly have potential and talent. But in the NHL it isnt enough.

    There may be other teams, but only ONE Club De Hockey…

  30. Aerobiz says:

    Hey Folks,

    Does anyone here have a link to the heartbeat sound that they used to play at the Bell center with the EKG meter running along the Flashboards?

    I need it for a client.

    Any Help would be much appreciated.

    Thanks.

    http://twitter.com/EricWebb24

    “The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.”- Randy Pausch

  31. mrhabby says:

    hard not to agree with you boone. based on logic and reality..habs could get blown out quite easily. in order for us to even win a game or two..everything has to go our way..perfect games have to be played. i would love to see it happen and win the series but just cannot see it.

     i do see the habs playing and fighting very hard. we do have quite a bit of leadership who can provide direction. we should have no pressure on us and play like it. lots of people say size does not matter. while i agree to some extent..in playoff hockey size always matters. time and space are always taken away from the smaller skilled guys.

    iam more interested in the moves that PG will try and execute this summer based on this playoff series and the season just completed.

  32. arcosenate says:

    The Caps’ defense will be exposed, as well as their inferior net minding.

    If Montreal plays as a five man unit, like they are capable of:

    Montreal in 6.

  33. Wops says:

    Please Boone, or anybody else.

     

    Explain to me why is Plekanec tired?

    Crosby plays 25minutes a game and is the same size! Is he exhausted? Do you have the same reflexion with him?

  34. ooder says:

    so john adnerson gets fired and don waddell gets promoted…

    what a stupid management.. it’s the equivalent of keeping sather aruond

    ——————

    “I like what I’m seeing right now,” assessed Markov. “We’re not perfect, but we’re trying to be.”


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