Show of hands; who saw the Montreal Canadiens atop the Eastern Conference at season’s
After a spectacular turn around season, Les Bleu Blanc Rouge are not only back in the playoffs,
but rocketed to the top of the Eastern Conference. Even Vegas odds makers had Les Glorieux
slated as 40-1 odds to win the cup pre-season and are now at 7-1.
Despite much criticism from fans and media alike for not landing the big name free agent or
making that block buster deal at the deadline, General Manager Bob Gainey looks like a
By signing in some under the radar veterans, relying on his existing talent and bringing up
some key rookies, Gainey has shown the league that you can build a competitive team
without tossing out the big bucks.
Many felt this would be a two to three year process to get to the level this team achieved in
one season. Even team owner George Gillett was quoted as saying “Frankly the kids came
along faster than perhaps any of us had realized”
Now the task at hand:
After a conference with the media on Monday, Gainey pointed out, “Now that we are in the
playoffs our goal is to win the Stanley Cup.”
The Canadiens will take that initiative along with the number one offence and number one
power play into the Bell Centre tomorrow night against the Boston Bruins.
The regular season series was a sweep and stems back to 11 consecutive wins over their
original six rivals.
The Habs do have some injuries of concern.
Captain Saku Koivu is out for likely another week with a bone fracture in his foot. He has yet
to skate in practice.
Winger Michael Ryder will play Thursday.
Blue liners Francis Bouillon and Mike Komisarek did skate today and while the small but
gritty Bouillon is still doubtful, the physical Komisarek is likely a game time decision and
was scheduled to meet the team doctor before tonight’s team meal.
"I feel pretty good," Komisarek said. "Feel strong, feel confident."
The Habs could use Komisarek’s physical presence as soon as possible as the Bruins will need to slow down or rough up the fastest team in the league without putting themselves at the mercy of the Canadiens power play to have any real chance of being competitive in this series.
Patrice Bergeron skated his first full contact practice and Marc Savard skated as a red jersey non-contact player with the Bruins on Monday. Savard was cleared for contact for today’s practice and is hopeful to start game one. Bergeron is still declared out for game one and will be decided on for the rest of the series.
When asked about the Bruins injuries today, Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau said; “You have to expect everything in the playoffs cause it’s the playoffs. I’ve never counted anybody out. It doesn’t matter if they’ve been in a wheel chair last week, there’s a chance for those guys to play.”
Most eyes in Montreal however will be on 20 year old rookie goalie Carey Price.
After taking over the number one job at the trade deadline, Price finished the season with Rookie of the Month honors for March and the league’s First Star for the final week of the season.
With comparisons to HOFers Ken Dryden and Patrick Roy since almost day one this season, the time has now come for the young netminder to show the talent he demonstrated in last year’s World Junior Championships and Calder Cup championship.
Although likely very excited on the inside the reserved Price spoke Monday on the sell out crowds of the Bell Centre. “I’ve seen the way the fans are during the regular season. I imagine they’re going to be even more intense during the playoffs.”
And while little is being said about Bruins netminder Tim Thomas, who struggled against the Canadiens this year, keep in mind this is the playoffs where anything can happen.
Bruins fans will hope for their squad to battle for an upset, while Habs fans will look to continue flying on with their team’s incredible season...
Round one...game one....Enjoy!