Well, you can say this about the Habs: if they make the playoffs and they're finally healthy, they have a chance to surprise someone. I thought it was over last night when the Flyers went up 3-0. The Canadiens were without Cammalleri, Kostitsyn, Pouliot and now Markov. The Flyers were in control and the chances of a comeback were somewhere between slim and none.
But this is a different Habs team than the one we watched bend over for Boston in last year's playoffs. The difference isn't only in the names on the sweaters, but in their grim determination to keep fighting, no matter what. I think this year there have only been a handful of games when it looked like they were completely out of it. On the vast majority of nights, they care. Sometimes they're not good enough to win, but other times the talent remaining in the lineup combined with the heart in the players gets them over the top.
As Dominic Moore said last night, against the Flyers they just ran out of time. There's little doubt that the Habs would have tied it up given a couple more minutes in that third period. They never quit and had the Flyers back on their heels. With any luck, they'll pick up right there again and beat them tonight.
I also hope PK Subban picks up right where he left off. The kid continually gives credit to his coaches in Hamilton and his teammates. About his own ability he only says quietly that he knows what he can do and he has confidence in himself. Last night, we got a chance to see what he can do in the NHL, and it's good. It's going to be REALLY good. Paired with lumbering Hal Gill, Subban saved his veteran partner a couple of times because he was fast enough to get back and cover for the big man. His outlet passing was decisive, quick and accurate. His poise and skill on the breakout was glorious to watch. I remember his draft, with the thousand-watt smile beaming from the TV, and I became a fan of his right at the start. I like him even more now.
Carey Price played a good backup's game. He made some gorgeous saves to hold the game close, but the second goal was his typical deflating softie. We can't blame him for it. Backups are backups for a reason, after all, and he fought back mentally to shake off the bad goal. But the coach can be blamed for playing the backup in a game the team really needed to win. It might not have made a difference, but then again, it might have.
Some Habs will have to pick it up tonight if they want a better result. Ryan O'Byrne was undisciplined when he took that retaliation penalty. He was also careless with his passing. Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta have to put the points up. With so much scoring missing from the lineup, the team depends on the guys who are paid to provide it even more.
I think, though, if the team comes out with the kind of no-quit attitude it showed last night, the Habs can pull off a win tonight. On paper, they shouldn't even be in it. But you can't discount the power of heart.