Doesn't this week feel completely different from last? This time last week we were praying the Canadiens could pull off a couple of wins against bottom feeders, just to stop the slide down the standings before they found themselves looking up at eighth place. But we were praying without a lot of hope behind the prayers. The team was getting killed every night, the goaltending was iffy, the D suspect and the forwards couldn't score. Now here we are a week later, after three solid efforts from everyone in uniform, better goaltending, timely scoring and reeling in five points out of six.
The temptation is to believe the team has turned the corner. I really like the fact that the players are skating hard, hitting and potting timely goals (even if they couldn't get one in six chances in the SO against Buffalo...grrr). The PK has been fantastic and the PP, with the Koivu line controlling things, has been better. A month ago, if the Habs had been down by two goals against the Sabres, (wait...weren't they?) they would have folded and given up the third one in short order. Now we're seeing a team with a gameplan, with players who know their roles, that can fight back when down.
Still, though the temptation to buy into the dream that the Habs have turned things around is strong, the jury must be out until they win a game against a serious team with the new kind of effort they've been showing. The Hawks game tomorrow is going to be a big indicator of how strong this Canadiens squad really is. If they win...I'll officially give into the temptation and believe the team is making a serious stretch drive and improving as it heads into the playoffs.
The fear behind the temptation though, is what if it's not enough? What if the Canadiens really try and they look good, and even manage a few wins in the last eight games, but they still fall short of the post-season? I don't think I can stand to get my hopes up only to see them dashed in the last week of the season. I'd been resigned to missing the playoffs a month ago. Now expectations are rising again, in what could be the cruelest blow of a weird Centennial.
In the end though, I'll probably be a typical Habs fan and expect big things. Every two points will raise my hopes. I'll be a believer. But if the crash comes, it'll be a long, long summer of gathering up the pieces of broken fan heart in time for next October.