The Power of the Miracle Thirty

J.T. wrote my post on Friday. She did it impeccably. She said what needed to be said. In the words of the great Pierre McGuire, "it’s an everything problem". The goalie’s not doing great but he’s not the one pitching a bottom-feeding power play.

The forwards are lacking in the Creativity Department and are as predictable as the cream of wheat I made this weekend. But they’re not the ones providing as much protection as Miley Cyrus in hockey pads.

The D has gone more timid than a gerbil trying to spend the night with a crocodile.

And the coach has the sense of direction of a guy with two left eyes that belong to Peter Faulk. 

This is what a collapse looks like.

A young goalie, bewildered crying in front of the cameras. Twice. 

A mumbling coach in post-game press conferences.

30-minute long closed door player meetings.  

The word "Montreal" beginning a descent on the page of your newspaper. 

Some have pointed to the fact that Detroit went through a losing spell last season and ended up winning the Stanley Cup. Foolish ones, bless your hearts.

This group of players has never looked right. Never. Not when it was taking them 7 games to lose a first game in regulation. Not when they had lost 1 in 11 to begin the season. Not when they slumped throughout November, not when they started putting the pieces together in December with the injuries taking their toll. Certainly not in January and not now. Not at all.

Let’s go back a bit more. A pretty strong 5-game series against Philadelphia but stumped by stellar goaltending, made to look even more brilliant by a stalled offense. An imploding young goaltender unable to carry his team forward.

A very surprising performance in a 7-game series, by the opposing team. The series that saw us witness the Boston Bruins coming to life, as we know them today. Montreal never looked good aside from the first and last game. They were outplayed in the 5 other.

A 30-game mad dash took them to the top of the Conference, and it was a sight to behold. The best hockey we had seen in Montreal in nearly 20 years. As J.T. pointed out, that comeback from 0-5 lit a spark that would endure.

But before those final 30 games, it was much of what we’ve seen so far. Win some, lose some, but never stamping their game with a real identity, with unrelenting resolve to play with a ferocious will to win. Of course, the other 50 last year were not all bad, and neither were the near 60 this year, but the Canadiens only appeared consistent and confident as a team once; during those 30 games. Not once before and after that stretch could this team ever have been mistaken for the Detroit Red Wings.

82 games last season. 12 more in the playoffs. 60 games so far this season. What the team has to show for is a solid 30-game stretch, playing in a stride of confidence, and demonstrating what could be accomplished when playing to its full potential. 30 games on about 155.

And this is what we have renewed the mystique around. Maybe it’s time to admit that we may have been fooled. Misled by our wanting to see something materialize, something we miss and that has escaped this city for some time now. Maybe we all bought into the fact that we may have seen more than what actually stood before us.

It will take another miracle 30 and something ever more special thereafter to convince us that the renewal of hope we have bred throughout the past year wasn’t in fact nothing more than a testimony to our own yearning.  

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