NHL Playoffs: Canadiens deserve to be exactly where they are
By Rob Soria
It may not be where most people expected them to be but the Montreal Canadiens find themselves just four wins away from reaching their first Stanley Cup Final since 1993. Should they manage to get past the New York Rangers and make it back to the finals, their Game Seven victory over the Boston Bruins will forever be known as the win that out them over the top.
Edmonton - May 16, 2014 - When it comes to the National Hockey League Playoffs and a series between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens, hockey fans have come to expect something special from these two proud franchises. After treating fans to what were six outstanding games during their second round match-up, it all came down to Wednesday night’s Game Seven and it was, not surprisingly, another night to remember in this storied rivalry.
Heading into the series, few gave the Canadiens much of chance of knocking off the defending Eastern Conference champs and the same held true leading up to the winner take all finale. However, if you were smart enough to follow the advice from the team over at TopBettingReviews.com...your bank account is likely much better off for it. That said, it looked as though the odds were stacked against the Habs against this year’s edition of the Big Bad Bruins.
Unfortunately for Boston, the game would be decided on the ice and at least on this night, it wasn’t even close. While the shot clock may have been widely in favour of the home side, 30-18 to be exact, it was the visitors who were in complete control from the outset. They took the game to the Bruins from the drop of the puck and kicked into high-gear following Dale Weise’s icebreaker at the 2:18 mark.
While Claude Julien’s side appeared to be skating in quicksand and almost afraid to make a mistake during much of the first period, the team at the other end of the rink kept coming in waves. If not for a couple of big stops from Tuukka Rask and a handful of fortunate bounces, Boston could have easily found themselves out of it heading into the intermission.
Lucky for them, they still had a chance but the damage had already been done. Montreal now believed they could slay the dragon.
To their credit, the Bruins pushed back in period two but all the best they could do was swapping goals, as Max Pacioretty and Jarome Iginla each found the back of the net to maintain the Canadiens one goal cushion heading into the third. Boston had their chances to get back on level terms early in the second but were unable to rattle the wall that has become Carey Price and were lucky to not find themselves down a pair heading into the second intermission.
The Habs starting netminder has looked like an entirely different player during the first two rounds of the 2014 post-season. Clearly the former fifth overall pick has used his Gold Medal winning performance at this year’s Olympics to his advantage, as he has taken his game to another level at crunch time. While the playoffs may not have been kind to Price during his first six years in the league, it looks as though he was trying up to make up for lost time in year number seven.
While most were expecting the Bruins to come out and throw everything but the kitchen sink at Montreal in the third, the Canadiens would have none of it. They limited Boston to just eight shots on goal and outside of a timely stop off David Krejci in the opening minutes of play, Price was not be called upon to do anything other than make a handful of routine stops. It was certainly an impressive display and one that no one would have envisioned taking place over the final twenty minutes...with the B’s season hanging in the balance.
As good as likes of Price and PK Subban had been throughout the series, it was a complete team effort in Game Seven that ultimately did the Bruins in. While much of the focus has now shifted towards Milan Lucic and what was said to Alexei Emelin and Weise during the traditional post-series handshake, it has somewhat taken away from what was a clinical display from Michel Therrien’s crew when it mattered most.
Now the question becomes, can they do it again and become the first Canadian team to reach the Stanley Cup Finals since the Vancouver Canucks in 2011 and only the second since the Edmonton Oilers surprising run back in 2006. It certainly won’t be easy but than again, reaching the Finals and easy are two things that rarely if ever go together when it comes to the National Hockey League Playoffs.
Rob Soria is the Edmonton Oilers' correspondent for OurHometown.ca. Rob was born and raised in Edmonton and is the author of the Edmonton Oilers blog - OilDrop.ca. He has been a dedicated follower of the game and its history for years but his focus remains on his hometown Edmonton Oilers. If you have questions or wish to contact Rob, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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