Size does matter. It matters in bank accounts, plates of pasta and watchdogs. I'm not convinced it matters much for hockey players; at least not talented hockey players. Pundits and hockey experts looking for reasons to explain why the Habs are losing the series against the Caps check out the team's vital statistics and comfortably conclude it's because they're too small. It doesn't take much effort to say that. Gionta and Cammalleri are certainly unusually short for NHL forwards, and neither Plekanec nor Gomez tops six feet down the middle, so their lack of stature makes a convenient excuse. But when you look a little more closely, you see Cammalleri leading the team with six points in four games. Plekanec has four in four, including three goals. Gionta has three points, two huge goals among them.
No, the problem with the Habs isn't size. All the commonly-cited reasons why it should be, like smaller players wear down late in games, smaller players don't get scoring chances because they can't get to the net or smaller players can be intimidated more easily are just pure crap in their case. Gionta, Cammalleri and Plekanec scored their goals from a couple of feet in front of the net. On the PP, you'll find Gionta planted firmly in the crease. Plekanec will get dirty in the corners when he has to; so will Cammalleri. Sure, they can have problems when they play a team that thrives on smash-mouth hockey like the Flyers, but so do most teams with skilled players who don't do well in the grinding department. That's not the case in the Capitals series because it's been extremely tame physically, relative to most playoff hockey.
The bigger problem with the Habs (no pun intended...seriously) is that 6'3" Benoit Pouliot has one assist in four games. So does the big PP threat, Marc-Andre Bergeron. Travis Moen, Tom Pyatt, Mathieu Darche, Sergei Kostitsyn and Maxim Lapierre have zero points between them. The little guys are doing their job. Their supporting cast is not. To make matters worse, of the guys who aren't scoring, only Kostitsyn is a plus player, at plus one. Bergeron is a team-leading spectacular minus-eight in four games. When your defence and your bottom-six forwards don't score and don't stop the other team from scoring either, you will lose hockey games. That has nothing to do with size.
The Habs are losing to a team that, yes, is bigger on average than they are. But it's also a team that finishes its chances and features one of the best pure snipers in hockey. The Habs don't finish as many chances because they don't have a superstar or two who can turn it up a notch when the need is upon them. The Caps take advantage of defensive breakdowns and they use their massive amount of scoring ability to cash in. That, again, has nothing to do with size. As we've seen with guys like Georges Laraque, big without talent is useless. Talent without size, however, can help a team win.
Small is a problem when it comes with naivete, slow skating or a lack of hockey sense. It's a problem when it comes without heart or courage. None of the Habs small guys are inexperienced, slow, dumb or afraid. They, and Martin St.Louis, Patrick Kane and Theo Fleury and Mats Naslund before them, can play hockey. They can do the job, and they have been doing it during the playoffs. If the big guys on the team were doing half as well, the Habs would not be losing and size wouldn't be an issue for all the people looking for excuses.
Tolkien said "Even the smallest person can change the course of the future." He's right, even when it comes to hockey players.