I'll bet I'm not the only one whose first thought upon waking (early) this morning was "GAME SEVEN!!!" This is so exciting, but now that I've totally bought into this magical run, it's going to be awfully hard to accept if it ends tonight. Random Habs-related thoughts on Game Seven Day:
-History will be made. Yes, NHL, it will be made, and it was a really nice idea to do the ad campaign featuring some of the league's greatest playoff moments. Roy's fabulous OT in his rookie year that led to a Cup win, Bobby Orr flying through the air, Yzerman starting the Wings' great decade of winning and Messier hoisting his first Cup as captain are all memorable, even historic hockey moments. But, typical of NHL marketers who wouldn't know a dead horse if they kicked it for a week, they've ruined the concept with all the versions of the ads they're making for this year's playoffs. Okay, Jaro Halak's 53 saves in Game Five against Washington probably is one for the ages, but Max Lapierre scoring a goal? Come on! It was a very pretty goal, but it was scored in Game Six of the second round. It's not exactly a Cup winner. If the Habs lose tonight, it will certainly be history because nobody will remember it by October when we're all wondering why the hell Lapierre got a new contract after he's been invisible for ten games. I'm waiting for the one with a ref's arm in the air and the Pens scoring on an undeserved delayed penalty. The caption will be "What if Sidney didn't bitch?"
-If the Habs win this game tonight, they have a very good chance to make the Finals for the first time in seventeen years. I'm afraid to think very far ahead, but you have to think that after the Caps and Pens, Philly or Boston would be tough, but not terrifyingly better-on-paper opposition. Then again, they both play the physical style that seems to really stump the Habs.
-If the Habs lose tonight, I think the worst thing will be that all of this will be forgotten by the critics in a year or so, when they talk about how the Habs have failed to emerge from the second round of the playoffs since '93. It won't matter that this group of players gave everything they had and that they defied the odds for game after game. On paper, it'll be just another second-round loss proving how Gainey failed to build a winner. Nobody will point out the level of opposition the Habs have faced, or the injuries through which they've fought. Nobody will remember the blocked shots, heroic goaltending or clutch scoring. And that's too bad. This year deserves a better fate.
-I wonder if this series will change the public perspective of Sidney Crosby? We all know he started his career as a serious whiner, but the image of the humble champion he portrayed at the Olympics convinced a lot of people the Kid had grown up. This series, though, has attracted a great many viewers who don't necessarily get to watch Crosby for prolonged periods of time. It's also featured countless closeups of him whining to the refs at the ends of periods, taking cheap shots like the one at Plekanec at the end of Game Six, and making childish gestures like breaking his stick on Halak's crossbar. You have to respect the talent and drive the guy possesses, but his behaviour in the series says he's not grown up at all. It proves that he's a great guy when things are going his way, but when facing adversity his bad temper and inner two-year-old emerge.
-Speaking of Crosby, I also wonder what kind of effect the captain's general loss of composure will have on his team in this game? I hear the Habs' "leadership group" talking about the fun they're having, the desire to keep going and the way they're playing for each other. On the other hand, I see Crosby losing his temper on the ice and I hear him talking about "not losing." His comments yesterday included, "We're not losing. We're tied in this series," and "We never took them lightly. They're here for a reason and we're here for a reason. Nobody's talking about losing." Hmmm...I don't hear any Habs talking about the possibility of losing. Just Crosby.
-I think it's great the Bell Centre will show the game on the big HD screen tonight. I hope some of the money taken from the $7.50 tickets goes to charity, and I really, really hope, win or lose tonight, nobody acts stupid and wrecks the downtown this time around. The Habs are getting such positive attention in these playoffs, I dread a few idiots spoiling it all.
-Jaro Halak gave an interview to a Slovak paper yesterday, in which he answered questions about Carey Price (they're buddies with no jealousy between them), the playoff run (he's no saviour; just a goalie doing his best) and his contract negotiations (not on yet). Most interesting was his answer when asked if he's happy in Montreal: "At the moment I am, even before I was. As for the future, everything is open for me. I have to say about Montreal fans they are the best in the world. When we win they are great and tremendous. But it's very tough when we lose, they boo at us. That's the hockey in Montreal, as a player you have to prepare yourself for it." Sound like he'd stay in Montreal for the right deal, but wouldn't cry too long if he got a good deal elsewhere. I hope the organization's treatment of him in his early years as a pro haven't soured him on the Habs.
-I've managed to disassociate from playoff runs in the last few years because I didn't expect the team to do anything and I was right. Disassociating emotionally made sure I didn't spend a month in the doldrums after the playoffs ended for the Canadiens. I can't do that this year. I'm all in, and I really, really need the team to win this one. I'm not ready for it to end.