First off, my apologies to those who saw the title “DOWN TO 1” and clicked on this blog expecting to read about the injury to Sami Salo. Sorry for the bait and switch.
The Montreal Canadiens avoided elimination at the hands of the Penguins and have forced a game 7 against the defending champs. Everyone from fans, to writers to hockey people are asking the same question – “how are they doing this?” How can a #8 seed knock off the #1 team in the entire NHL and force a Pittsburgh team that is as good as it gets to 7 games? This really doesn’t make any sense to even the most passionate fans.
One of the greatest quotes in sports is “the sum of the whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts.” That’s the only way I can explain the success of this hockey team. The Habs may not have Ovechkin and Backstrom, or Crosby and Malkin…
But they have Jaroslav Halak in goal stopping pucks; challenging shooters and refusing to get rattled when opposing teams target him.
And they have Josh Gorges who has been a rock on the blueline, going head to head against the leagues best.
And they have PK Subban, a rookie who is logging huge minutes but is winning almost every battle for each and every loose puck.
And they have Roman Hamrlik, who most fans including myself want to see bought out or traded, but he has elevated his game with all the injuries on D.
And they have Jaroslav Spacek who was exceptional against Ovechkin, injured and returned in game 6 without practicing yet was one of Montreal’s top players.
Oh, and they also have 2 injured assets in Hal Gill (the shot blocking machine), and Andrei Markov (the stud defenseman) who both contributed a lot when healthy.
And what about Cammalleri and his team leading 11 goals?
And what about Brian Gionta who plays in all situations and leads all forwards in ice time per game at 22:29?
And what about Gomez’ team leading 8 assists?
And what about Tomas Plekanec’s ability to put up almost a point per game while taking a beating and facing the toughest macthups?
And what about Maxim Lapierre’s sudden burst of energy, big hits and clutch goals?
And what about Travis Moen leading all forwards with 28 hits?
And what about Tom Pyatt leading all forwards with 13 blocked shots and playing important PK minutes?
And what about Dominic Moore and his knack for winning big faceoffs and leading all forwards in forced turnovers?
This is a group that truly understands the team concept. A team that believes Halak’s goaltending, Cammalleri’s 11 goals, Moen’s 28 hits and all of those Gill blocked shots are equally important. The Canadiens would not be where they are today if they were missing even one of the many components listed above. Now just imagine if Andrei Kostitsyn and Benoit Pouliot actually contributed!
As a Habs fan at heart, I appreciate what this team is achieving; and that appreciation is not a result of the wins and losses. It’s because most of the players are proud to wear the sweater, are willing to do whatever it takes to succeed, show tremendous passion and character and they truly give off the impression that they care.
Game 7 is Wednesday night in Pittsburgh, where hopefully another chapter can be added to this Cinderella story.
GO HABS GO!
About the Author
Written by Corey Krakower
I am the Director of NHL Content & Habs writer for ProSportsBlogging.com; I have spent 8 seasons behind the bench as a minor hockey coach; and I am the future GM of the Montreal Canadiens (according to my mom). I spend my days managing the Harrow Sports brand in my hometown of Montreal and I moonlight as a Hockey Advisor for Pi Athlete Management. Most importantly, I'll throw anyone under the bus for a laugh.