Ole…ole,ole, ole!!!! Montréal est victorieuse!
Incroyable! Les victoires de Montréal sur le mois passé sont… incroyable! Le Habs a fait l’inconcevable… l’inimainable. Je n’ai pas les mots à…
OK… for the sake of everyone’s sanity, the remainder of this blog post will be in English. Besides, my French sucks!
Now, let me see if I have this straight. Not only will there be a Stanley Cup Finals minus anyone wearing a red winged wheel blazoned upon their chest, but we shall see no Sidney Crosby and his Penguin pals either?
Hmmm…will the leagues officials even allow such a thing?
Regardless, the Montreal Canadiens…the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference… a team that won only 39 games and amassed but 88 points…the team that would not have even been IN the playoffs had the Thrashers won but 3 more games this past season…yes, these Montreal Canadiens have made their way to the Conference Finals after defeating the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Washington Capitals in seven games and the defending Cup Champ Pittsburgh Penguins, also in seven games.
Montreal had to fight an claw it’s way throughout as Pittsburgh held leads in all three of their previous defeats to Montreal during the series.
Conversely, the Habs held a series lead after the game-one OT win in the first round… after that, the only other times was when they were shaking hands with the Caps two weeks ago and the Pens Wednesday on night. That’s it.
The Canadiens wasted no time getting on the scoreboard in game seven. Just ten seconds into the match Sid the Kid was sent to the Bin of Sin due to a boarding call. 22 seconds later, Brian Gionta capitalized to put the Habs up 1-0. Then, after taking a 2-0 lead into the break, Montreal doubled their lead with less than six minutes elapsed in the second. Michael Cammalleri scored his playoff-leading 12th goal of the playoffs at the 3:32 mark and Travis Moen’s shorty 102 seconds later put the Canadiens up 4-0.
Gionta added another goal, this one of the power-play variety, in the third period to put his team up 5-2.
Jaroslav Halak kicked out 37 of 39 shots to help his team cap off their second upset of the post-season…including all 18 he faced in the third period after the Penguins had pulled to within two before the second intermission. After allowing 5 goals on 20 shots in game one against Pittsburgh in a 6-3 loss, Halak only allowed the Pens more than two goals once more time over the last six games. That came during Montreal’s 4-3 game-six win on Monday.
Halak is now 8-5 with a 2.42 GAA and .933 SV% heading into the ECF.
The loss marks the end of Mellon Arena as the Penuins home. They are scheduled to begin play in the newly-constructed Consol Energy Center next fall. CEC will hold it’s first scheduled event on September 5…a Lady Gaga concert.
And just whom will Montreal face in the next round? Well, that’s something that is yet to be determined as the Philadelphia Flyers have come back from a 3-0 deficit to force a game seven against the Boston Bruins. Wednesday evening they continued there improbable run, beating the Bruins 2-1.
Michael Leighton has now stopped 44 of the 45 shots taken against him since he took over for the injured Brian Boucher in the Flyers 4-0 game-five win. He stopped all 14 Monday night, then 30 of 31 in game-six.
Since falling behind three games to zip, Philly has out-scored the Bruins 11-5.
So…can Boston’s fall be contributed solely on the loss of David Krejci, who hasn’t seen action since Mike Richard’s crushing center-ice check in game-three? Or is it more than that?
Regardless of who wins Friday night, I can already tell you who my pick will be in the Eastern Conference Finals…ce sera les Habitants de Montréal dans sept jeux.