Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images
The Ottawa Senators celebrate their Game 4 victory.
Whether it’s a third-period lead or a third-line player, the hardest lesson the Canadiens should have learned in the playoffs so far is not to take anything for granted. That apparently and unfortunately includes referees making the right calls on key plays.
The Habs entered this series with one distinct advantage over the Ottawa Senators: depth up front. Whereas Ottawa has perhaps a single consistently dangerous line, Montreal had played the entire season rolling three and averaging just over the same amount of goals per game.
However, all of a sudden following Game 1, the Habs weren’t just without Lars Eller, but Alexei Emelin, Max Pacioretty and captain Brian Gionta as well.
While the latter two returned for Game 3, Gionta is now out for good with a torn left biceps, as are Prust and Ryan White with undisclosed upper body injuries (via thestar.com).
So, that aforementioned depth? Not all that existent anymore. And it’s kind of hard to develop an us-versus-the-world mentality when the “us” on which the Habs can rely are so few in number.
On the bright side, Price, who has been inconsistent at best in this series, is also doubtful for Game 5.
Thank God for life’s little miracles, eh? It’s times like these that one has to be grateful that the Habs have a great backup like Peter Budaj in the wings who can be trusted in any and all game situa—Oh, right…Never mind.
The fact of the matter is if Price hadn’t have given up the game-tying goal late in Game 4 (on which he got injured and, let’s be honest, looked horrible, flailing about like a fish out of water after having lost track of the puck), Habs fans would be having very different conversations right now and discussing how the Habs now have all the momentum in the series.
No dice, though.
Following the two cruel twists of fate in Game 4 (including the first Ottawa goal that shouldn’t have counted), that simply is not the case, and the Habs are faced with elimination sooner than most could have foreseen.
As a result, it can no longer be considered a matter of taking it one game at a time, but one period at a time, as the ability to play a full 60 minutes has eluded the team up to this point in the series.
Coming back from a 3-1 deficit is possible, however unlikely it may be at this juncture. The Habs are the better team. They just have to play like it the rest of the way. It’s up to them how long that is.