Farewell to the 2007-2008 Montreal Canadiens
It may in fact be an extremely saddening moment for all Canadiens fans, but we have to realize there is no need for total despair.
We have to remember the reasons why we, and all other hockey fans, should be proud of the beloved Habs.
Though the Canadiens did not make it as far into the playoffs as expected—even the Stanley Cup was a suggested possibility—none of the professionals of the National Hockey League thought they would make the post-season at all.
Most presumed they would falter from under-developed rookies, poor trades, and failing veterans, and would end the season in the thirteenth or fourteenth position in the Eastern Conference.
They could not have been more wrong.
Montreal, instead, won both the Northeast Division and the Eastern Conference title—something they had not done in 15 years.
One of the greatest moments still remains "The Comeback." Even for those just tuning in on the NHL.com radio, you could feel the tension. I expect it will be spoken about for many years to come. It was worth mentioning again in here:
Montreal, playing at home, was down 5-0 in the second period against the New York Rangers. It was at the point where everyone was prepared for a major blowout.
But slowly, the Habs started scoring.
By the end of the third period it was a 5-5 tie and the crowd was the loudest a person has ever heard.
Nobody scored in overtime, meaning this game was going to a shootout.
To make this game even more spectacular, it came down to the last shooter, and Alex Kovalev was the hero.
It was something the Canadiens did for the first time in their 99-year history, and it will never be forgotten.
Then there was the most surprising trade of the season—Cristobal Huet to the Washington Capitals. This meant Carey Price was now the No. 1 goaltender, and Jaroslav Halak became the full-time back-up.
That sent a lot into panic, with the thought that who in their right mind would let their franchise be carried by a 20-year-old and a 22-year-old?
Though Price struggled in the playoffs, we cannot forget just how amazing he did. These two kids will in fact lead this team for a long time to come.
Of course, there were other players who were a big surprise, some for the good and some for the bad.
The good surprises were Alexei Kovalev and Mark Streit.
Kovalev had a career year in many ways—a huge improvement from last season where he played his worst. He was even among the leaders for his power play accomplishments.
Streit, the forward and/or defenseman, set career high numbers and became the most successful Swiss-born player.
As for the bad surprises, those were Michael Ryder and Christopher Higgins.
Ryder completely vanished off the scoreboard and came nowhere close to his 30-goal seasons prior to 2007-08.
Higgins, while still productive, went on several game stretches without a goal or even a point.
The Kostitsyn brothers gave the modern Canadiens fans a taste of what it is like to see a brother duo play on the same team—including moments of them being on the ice at the same time.
There was more than one occasion where Andrei assisted Sergei, and vice versa. Hopefully both will continue to play for the Habs since they clearly sync well together.
With everything that has happened this year to Montreal, I cannot remember a more exciting season than this one. I will be counting down the approximate 135 days until the 2008-09 season begins.
Until then…thank you.
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