NHL Playoffs 2013: Why the Montreal Canadiens Are Still in Big Trouble
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After allowing three goals go unanswered in the third period of play against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night, Montreal came back and was solid in Game 2.
Doubts lingered with the Habs having suffered a home defeat and not even having a day off to erase the sting of losing the opener in front of their home crowd. Not to mention, they were missing not only Lars Eller, who was out after that vicious hit from Eric Gryba, but Max Pacioretty and Brian Gionta as well.
The fact that they were able to tame Ottawa's attack for just about the entire game, while sending a message with physical play, is an encouraging sign for the Bleu, Blanc et Rouge.
Montreal, however, isn't out of the woods just yet.
Keep in mind, despite that clutch victory in Game 2 at the Bell Centre, Montreal has still relinquished home-ice advantage to the Sens.
That is fairly significant.
Home-ice advantage is key in hockey (as it is in most sports), and the Habs should still be aware that they now must win at least one game away from home in order to advance to the second round.
While they may have the momentum for now, Ottawa emerges from the first two games the clear winner, having done their job as an underdog by winning one game away from home. Doing so at the raucous and hostile Bell Centre only makes that feat even more impressive.
What's worse for Montreal, it hasn't just surrendered home-ice advantage to any random team. The Ottawa Senators were incredible at Scotiabank Place this season, posting a record of 15-6-3.
Furthermore, the team that has affectionately been labelled the "pesky Sens" by their adoring fans won both their regular-season contests at home against the Canadiens, taking the first game by a score of 5-1 and the second 2-1 in a shootout.
To make matters worse for the Habs, they are currently without two of their best forwards in Brian Gionta and Max Pacioretty. The pair of Canadiens forwards missed Game 2 with undisclosed injuries and the Habs have not indicated whether or not the two attackers will be available for Game 3 (per cbc.ca).
Granted, Montreal was able to overcome the loss of two of their best attackers and win on Friday night, but one has to wonder whether they can continue to win, especially away from the friendly confines of the Bell Centre without them.
Even if they return for Game 3, there is the chance that the injuries that kept them out in the second installment of their postseason matchup with the Sens could linger and affect their game.
Either way, it's a cause for concern for Montreal and its supporters.
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