Many Habs fans are quick to point fingers at what went wrong in the playoffs... But what happened to what went right to bring that team in the post-season waltz?
If you order a painting, chances are, you will wait for it to be completely finished to make a judgement. It is easy to criticize the finished product but you have to appreciate the effort that was invested to get to the job done.
At the beginning of the 2007-2008 season, "experts" predicted the Canadiens to be out of the playoffs and not even close to the eighth spot. Well, "experts" have been fooled! Montreal finished champion of not only their division but took the eastern conference title.
The awakening of players like Kovalev, Streit and Plekanec along with the blossoming of the young Kostitsyn brothers not to mention energy line's Bégin, Kostopoulos and Smolinski, were all the right colors used by coach Carbonneau to paint this edition of the Montreal Canadiens masterpiece.
Reaping 104 points in the regular season, most goals scored in the league with 257, combined with the most devastating power play (90 goals) this team has fooled not only the "experts" but also fooled themselves. I don't think, when the season started last October, this team thought they would end it 1st where it counts.
They've done it... and it was a job well done.
The 2nd round playoffs' elimination by the Flyers is just part of the learning process. You have to learn to lose before you learn to win. They just did that in the series against Philadelphia.
Now it is time for GM Bob Gainey and coach Guy Carbonneau to work on a new canvas and perfect their painting skills and most importantly, find some new color mixes to get the perfect masterpiece that would put Leonardo DaVinci to shame and make the Mona Lisa look like a dollar-shop item.
Summer of all summers
This summer will be a busy one for Gainey. We can all say that the team needs a playoff player who will not be afraid to get his hands dirty. The team needs at least 2 excellent forward and needs to buff-up the blue line.
As for the energy lines the players in place right now can easily do the job. Montreal cannot touch Bégin or Kostopoulos. Lapierre is sitting on the fence but he would be a great asset.
Guillaume Latendresse is an enigma. He skates as if he's pulling a grand piano. If he wants to compete in this league, he'll need to take some power skating lessons this summer.
The good news is that the Habs have good young players pushing from the AHL. Carle, D'Agostini, Coté, Ferland and Valentenko to name just a few are rookies that could make the team for the next season.
I give a 9/10 for the overall result of the 2007-2008 season.